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Facial Changes from Orthodontics

Facial Changes From Orthodontics

by Lance Timmerman DMD

When teeth change position, the overall appearance can be affected. This is normally noticed from subtraction and not addition, or after tooth loss. While the resulting beauty is a matter of opinion, tooth loss CAN have other effects too.  The overall appearance may be minor and barely noticeable, but significance is a matter of personal opinion.

Loss of Space for Tongue

When space is reduced, tongues can be unpredictable. Often the person will rest their tongue on top of the lower teeth instead of between which can allow the cheek pressure to tilt the teeth inward and affect the bite. This can also lead to snoring and breathing through the mouth during sleep with resulting apnea events and sleepless nights for bed partners. This can be life threatening or decrease a persons life span.

Lateralizing Canines

Another common procedure is to move canines (eye teeth) to the position of the lateral incisors (the teeth immediately adjacent to the large central incisors). In the new position, the outer enamel needs to be shaped to mimic the shape of the lateral, or in some cases veneered. The result can look very similar to a lateral, but not exactly. Even more troubling is the root of the canine/lateral. The root of a canine tooth is very large and prominent, where the horseshoe shaped arch “turns the corner”. If moved to the lateral spot, the arch is narrowed with a result similar to the above issue with the tongue space. This also can give the face a more collapsed look.

End of the world?

Its not the end of the world if teeth were removed. It is often unavoidable or sometimes we are born without a full set of teeth.  People are often better to extract teeth for braces than to do nothing at all or double the amount of time in braces.   Many things CAN be done to overcome this issue if desired, sometimes permanently and sometimes in a management approach. Snoring and sleep apnea can be managed with a CPAP or oral appliance, TMJ issues can be treated. Spaces can be opened to create the ideal shaped arch and return the facial appearance to original. But it will take time.

Lance Timmerman

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