Prominent teeth also referred to as “buck teeth” are usually as a result of malocclusion which can be caused by tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, or can occur naturally. Protruding front teeth can also be as a result of bone loss from gum disease. Whether it is as a result of an accident or it runs in the family or the consequence of a lifestyle habit, prominent teeth can be quite distressing for some people. Is it something that needs to be corrected or is it ok to leave them?
Why Are Prominent Teeth a Problem?
Protruding teeth can make one to be too self-conscious about their smile and they are not only a cosmetic concern, but they can actually bring about health implications. If left untreated, buck teeth can cause:
- Airway concerns: When teeth are too big or the jaw bone is too small, this can lead to overcrowding of teeth. This is a common cause for buck teeth. Crowding often also means a small airway and leads to problems like sleep apnea, sleep-disordered breathing, and snoring. All these conditions affect the quality of life.
- Speech impediments: When it comes to speech, the relationship between the lips and the upper front teeth does have a great impact. If a person has an open bite or a large overbite, they may have trouble saying words with the letters B, M, P, TH, V, SH, F, and S.
- Chewing deficiencies: When the lower and upper teeth do not come together in a proper bite, chewing food becomes hard. This means that food does not break down properly, which affects digestion. If protruding teeth are so prominent, one is not able to properly grab and bite through some foods which can be quite frustrating.
How Can Prominent Teeth Be Fixed?
The type of treatment for protruding teeth depends of the severity of the case. Some of the treatment options include:
- Buck teeth braces: Buck teeth start to develop early in children and can be treated successfully with early intervention. The best treatment requires comprehensive orthodontic treatment with wires and brackets. More complex open bites and overbites may require the movement of the jaws and back teeth which require a patient to wear braces specially designed to correct buck teeth.
- Invisible aligners: Invisible aligners can be used to correct minor crowding that causes the appearance of prominent front teeth.
- Orthognathic surgery: This term is used to refer to jaw surgery. This procedure is applied to patients who have stopped growing or have severe cases of buck teeth. The surgery is done to produce an appropriate relationship between the lower and upper jaws. It is a complex procedure and requires a team effort involving an oral surgeon, orthodontist and a dentist, all working together to coordinate the care.
- Palate expansion: This treatment option is usually used to treat adolescents and younger children whose upper jaws are too small to accommodate adult teeth. The treatment involves using a special appliance known as a palatal expander which is attached to the upper molars. The expansion screws in the appliance slowly widens that palate to allow more room for teeth to grow.