Can an appliance really prevent jaw surgery?

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Yes! Our appliances, which are made out of acrylic or stainless steel, are used on growing children in order to help the growth of their upper or lower jaws. We can take advantage of bones that are still forming by guiding how the jawbone forms and stabilizes.

There are several indicators that your child may need an appliance.


An overbite

Similarly, if the upper jaw has grown more than the lower jaw, your child will often have the experience of “buck teeth.” We call this an overbite, where the front teeth stick out much farther than they should.

There are several appliances we use to stimulate the growth of lower jaw bone to shift it forward into the correct relationship with the upper. This also allows us to prevent jaw surgery in adults, where an oral surgeon surgically shifts the lower jaw forward.





An underbite

If the lower jaw has grown more significantly than the upper, this can cause an underbite, where the upper teeth rest behind the lower teeth. This can cause problems chewing, eating, and eventually wear down permanent teeth and enamel, causing major dental problems in the future.

We can use an appliance to stimulate the upper jaw bone’s growth forward, moving the entire upper jaw to the correct position and into the proper relationship with the lower jaw. Doing this in young, growing patients allows us to avoid jaw surgery in adult patients.





No room for permanent teeth

Even before the permanent teeth come in, you may have a good idea based on how the baby teeth sit. Ideal baby teeth should look like a white-picket fence: gaps between each tooth. This is because permanent teeth are much larger and need space to grow in.

If your child’s teeth already look crowded, they may need a growth modification appliance.

A palatal expander will widen the upper jaw when it is too narrow to create the space necessary for the permanent teeth to move in. The pressure of the appliance pushing outwards stimulates the jaw to grow additional bone. This expands the jaw and creates the room.




Overall, treatment with an appliance takes 6-9 months of growth and stabilization. The growth is gradual over this period of time, but the results are incredible.

Our doctors avoid recommending surgery as much as possible, instead opting for an appliance that can help move the growth of the jaw along slowly. A colorful acrylic appliance is much more fun than a visit to the oral surgeon, we promise!



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