Only those who have been teased with the nickname “rabbit teeth” know how embarrassing and unpleasant it can be to have to live with protruding teeth … But beyond the aesthetic aspect, protruding teeth can also give rise to various functional problems and contribute to premature tooth wear. This is why it is important to consider treatments such as orthodontic treatment.
Fortunately, today there are various types of treatment that combine different disciplines, such as orthodontics, surgery, and orthophony, which allow you to treat this unpleasant displacement of the jaws, and which allow you to regain a pleasant smile and full functionality of the teeth.
The doctor has prepared this article dedicated to retrognathia to give you a clearer picture of the causes of this bad positioning of the upper teeth and to inform you of the treatments available.
The main causes of rabbit teeth
There are several causes of protruding teeth: heredity, bad habits …
The teeth moved forward are the consequence of a dislocation of the dental arches: in other words, the jaw (upper arch) is in a more advanced position than the mandible (lower arch). This type of malocclusion – caused by the incorrect alignment between the jaw and jaw – is called retrognathia.
The causes behind this displacement can be many, but the most common are the following:
Continued sucking of the thumb or pacifier that causes deformation of the alveolar arch
Incorrect positioning of the tongue that is pressed against the teeth
Heredity, when other family members have the same type of problem
Regardless of the actual origin of the problem, to obtain satisfactory results and to avoid further damage to the teeth and jaws it is essential to diagnose the problem as soon as possible and to undertake treatment quickly. In the presence of protruding teeth due to a bad oral habit, as happens especially in children, before starting the actual treatment it is advisable to first modify these behaviors.
Consequences of retrognathia
As is well known, retrognathia has a rather evident aesthetic impact, but this is certainly not the biggest problem. In fact, the set back chin can give rise to various functional problems, such as:
- Difficulty in phonation
- Joint pains or noises while eating or yawning
- Dental and periodontal disorders
If it is corrected early, the dislocation of the jaws does not cause particular consequences. However, in the absence of adequate treatment, various disorders can arise, such as:
- Premature tooth wear
- Greater predisposition to caries
- Removal of teeth
- If the upper incisors collide with the collar of the lower incisors, it can lead to mucosal lesions
- Increased risk of fracture and tooth loss in the event of bumps and falls, as the lips are unable to protect the front teeth
For these reasons, it is imperative to consult a professional as soon as the first signs of retrognathic or prognathic (protruding chin) appear.
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How to correct protruding teeth?
The dentist can use several solutions, to be chosen according to the age of the patient and the severity of the displacement.
Orthodontics to straighten protruding teeth
There are several types of devices for the treatment of retrognathia
Orthodontics is particularly effective for children. It allows containing the jaw too protruding while stimulating the other. The results are especially promising when treatment is undertaken before the facial bones have reached full development.
We also want to remember that early orthodontics can be suitable for children as early as 5 years old, or even earlier if they are able to manage the discomfort caused by the appliance and are able to ensure proper hygiene.
There are several forms of orthodontic treatments for the displacement of the jaws:
- Growth activators (monobloc or twin block) which are usually worn at night
- The mask of Delaire
- Herbst’s apparatus
- The appliance with brackets and rubber bands
- The Invisalign aligners (you can also perform free tests to find out if it works for your teeth)
In less severe cases these orthodontic treatments may be sufficient to correct the displacement, but it is quite common to arrange a second treatment during adolescence, when all the permanent teeth are in place, in order to consolidate the position of the teeth and jaws.
Orthognathic surgery for the treatment of retrognathia
To correct protruding teeth in adults, and in all those cases where the displacement is caused by skeletal problems and not by bad habits, a protocol that combines orthodontics and surgery is preferred.
Orthodontics deals with restoring the correct alignment of the teeth, allowing the upper and lower teeth to clench in the right position. Mandibular surgery, on the other hand, allows you to change the position of the jaws to restore harmony to the face.
In general, orthognathic surgery is used only after the age of 17-18, when the development of the jaws is finished, in order to avoid the risk of relapses due to late growth. It is practiced under general anesthesia and leaves no scars, as all incisions are made inside the mouth. During the surgery, metal plates are installed that have the function of stabilizing the bone, and that the patient will wear for life without feeling any discomfort.
However, some orthodontists believe that it is preferable to install braces only after the surgery has been performed.
Orthophony to correct muscle problems of the tongue and lips
Usually, before starting a treatment for protruding teeth it is necessary to establish an orthopedic framework to assess the need for functional re-education. In this way, the orthopedist will be able to define the behaviors to be modified, especially in the case of incorrect positioning of the tongue or bad perioral habits (sucking the thumb or pacifier, biting the nails, grinding the teeth, etc.).
In fact, to ensure the stability of the surgical-orthodontic treatment, it is necessary to quickly monitor the post-operative course.
On the other hand, the orthopedic treatment is not very demanding: generally, 3 to 5 re-education sessions of 30 minutes are enough to achieve the set objectives, although in addition to the sessions it is also necessary to rigorously carry out the exercises proposed by the specialist at home.
In the presence of temporomandibular joint disorders, it may be necessary to consult a physiotherapist.