Braces have become a part of life for many of us. In the past, braces were generally thought of as a treatment for kids. Now, with changes in the appearance of orthodontic appliances, and speed of movement, Orthodontics are being utilized frequently by teens and adults. The days of being too old for braces are long gone. There are a myriad of options for orthodontic treatment today to make them as esthetic as possible with shorter treatment lengths. While teeth are being moved, inevitably the mouth, lips, chin, and cheeks are effected. The question is…..Can Orthodontic treatment change a person’s facial appearance?

Upon completion of orthodontic treatment, many patients will notice a slight change in their facial appearance. The bigger change will occur when smiling fully, as this will show off the new found symmetry of your smile. The change will be more noticeable if the original issue was more severe.

 Corrections That Can Change Facial Appearance

-Overbite Correction.  Prior to tooth movement, an overbite causes the upper lip to protrude. In extreme cases the upper lip is so far advanced that the lips do not fully cover and close the mouth at rest. In profile the upper lip flares and the convexity of the mid face is pronounced. After movement, the area from nose down to chin flattens and the appearance softens.

-Underbite Correction. Prior to tooth movement, an underbite causes the chin to protrude and lower lip to retrude, giving your profile the “Moon Shape”. After movement, the face loses much of the concavity. This helps to flatten and soften the features, bringing the lips together more harmoniously. Underbite correction may or may not require surgical assisstance.

-Open Bite Correction. Prior to correction, the mouth and lips may seem a bit overstretched. In more severe cases the lips do not touch at rest. After movement, The mid face appears more relaxed and the lips come together at rest. Severe open bite may require surgery to be fully corrected.

-Jaw Expansion. There are times where a patient is born with too little space in one or both arches.  The middle of the face may be narrow, and cheeks a bit hollow. If space needs to be opened, a device is custom fabricated called an expander. If it is used on top it is called a palatal expander and if used on bottom it is called a mandibular expander. Expanders are used more often on children but they can also be used on adults in coordination with surgery. The expansion is usually done in very small increments and usually will go unnoticed by many. A more symmetrical smile and wider midface results at the end.

Orthodontic Treatment Conclusion

Orthodontic treatment can change a person in many dramatic ways. These changes include a fuller smile, straighter teeth, and balancing out one’s face. The changes to a person’s face are usually slight unless surgery is involved.  The profile is what changes the most. When teeth are in proper alignment, the profile of a person will be more in line with the rest of their facial features creating a more balanced look.

The facial changes can usually be predicted. Ask your dentist what changes you can expect.