Recognizing and Treating Your Child’s Misaligned Jaw

It’s unfortunately all too common that charmingly lopsided childhood grins develop into uncomfortable misaligned jaws in adulthood. Noticing and knowing when to treat their child’s orthodontic issues is a common point of concern for parents, and the team at Petrunic Orthodontics is here to help you with recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw and any other orthodontic issues they may have.

Though Dr. Chris Petrunic customizes every treatment plan to meet the specific needs of the child that he is treating, there are several common conditions he’ll be looking for during your child’s initial evaluation. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the most common issues related to misaligned jaws we see in young children, and how treating them can set your child up for a lifetime of healthy smiles! 

Crowded teeth

Healthy teeth and gums are obviously a core part of your child’s oral health, but crowded teeth can make it difficult for your child to brush and floss effectively. This can put them at risk of tooth decay and cavities which only leads to more problems down the line. 

If your child has crowded teeth, orthodontic treatment can move them into more optimal positions over time, resulting in an evenly spaced smile that’s easier to clean! Treatment can also lessen general facial tension and relieve chewing or speech difficulties. 

Gapped teeth

Gaps between teeth are very common, and can develop for a variety of reasons: genetics, thumb or finger sucking, extended bottle or pacifier use, and even gum disease. 

If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, our doctors will be able to identify the root cause and create a personalized treatment plan to close any gaps and improve the overall appearance of your child’s smile. 

Missing teeth

Sometimes, gaps between teeth can develop because of congenitally missing teeth that simply never grew in. In other cases, these gaps may be created when permanent teeth are lost due to injury or disease. 

If this is something your child has experienced, we can use braces to move existing teeth into their proper positions, then place bonded bridges where the missing teeth would have been. This approach allows us to create an evenly-spaced smile for your child that looks great and feels great, too!

Open bite

An open bite is where the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close properly when the mouth is closed. Many open bites come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth in the upper jaw to develop in a noticeably rounded formation. 

Whatever the cause, an open bite can generally be treated with a combination of braces and an orthodontic appliance known as a “crib.” This device prevents the tongue from putting pressure against the anterior teeth when swallowing, thus allowing the teeth to be adjusted while also training a better swallowing pattern. 

Once treatment is complete, your child will enjoy an aligned bite that allows them to comfortably close their mouth and enjoy all their favorite foods.

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Deep overbite

When a child has a deep overbite, their lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also overlap the lower front teeth. Out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints, and may even impact their face shape and appearance. 

Treatment for a deep overbite may be achievable with orthodontics alone, or a combination of orthodontics and restorative dentistry, depending on the severity of the case. Correcting deep bite misalignments will not only improve the functionality of your child’s mouth but will also dramatically improve the appearance of their smile.


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain at the jaw joint, and the angled pressure it creates can wear teeth down over time. Children with underbites have quite a few treatment options available to them, including:

• an upper jaw expander, which can be widened nightly until treatment is complete

• a reverse-pull face mask, which wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the back upper teeth to pull the upper jaw forward

• traditional braces to adjust the misaligned teeth

Orthodontic treatment like this will often relieve any pain and discomfort associated with the underbite. It can also make smiling, eating, and even breathing easier for your child!


If a child has an overjet, their top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. This particular malocclusion is often referred to as “buck teeth” and is most effectively treated when diagnosed as early as possible. This gives us the chance to use your child’s growth to our advantage by guiding their tooth eruption towards a more balanced mouth. The child’s age and specific needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but options will usually include:

• bite correction devices

• traditional braces

• removable orthodontic appliances

• tooth removal

• surgery

Once we treat your child’s overjet, they’ll enjoy a beautifully balanced, functional smile. 

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Help your child find their best smile with Petrunic Orthodontics

Most children around the age of 7 will have enough dental landmarks in place that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed by a trained orthodontist to ensure everything is developing normally, which is just one reason why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that you bring your child to see an orthodontist by the age of 7.

Though this initial consultation is only the first step in recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw, it is perhaps the most important one, because catching problems early allows the team at Petrunic Orthodontics to preemptively address orthodontic issues before they become issues.

Dr. Petrunic is proud to provide customized care in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere to every child we treat. If you’ve been wondering if your child would benefit from orthodontic care, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how your child’s smile is developing! Dr. Petrunic has years of experience recognizing and treating misaligned smiles, and can not only make your child’s jaw, teeth, and mouth comfortable and functional, but beautiful, too!

If you’re in Prattville or the surrounding area and would like to know more about the benefits of orthodontics, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation. Whatever your child needs, we’ll provide them with the best orthodontic experience possible!