Recognizing And Treating Your Child’s Misaligned Jaw

As parents, we know that you want nothing but the best for your children, but how can you tell when your child needs orthodontic treatment? Recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw and other orthodontic issues is a common point of concern for parents, and your friends at Buttram Orthodontics are here to help.

Your child’s treatment will depend on many factors, including their age, their particular oral alignment, and the results you’re hoping to achieve. This complexity is one reason why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should see an orthodontist by the age of 7! Most children around this age will have enough dental “landmarks” in place that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed to ensure everything is developing normally, while also allowing for ample time to address orthodontic issues as (or before) they arise. 

Dr. Buttram will check for a number of common orthodontic issues during your child’s free examination, most of which have to do with a misaligned bite. The technical term for this is malocclusion, and the good news is, it can be corrected! The expert team here at Buttram Orthodontics can identify and treat your child’s jaw pain, leaving them with an aligned bite and healthy smile! Keep reading to learn more. 

How does a misaligned bite cause jaw pain?

Most kids have a pretty big appetite and love to chow down on their favorite foods. To do so, they use their extremely strong jaw muscles, which can generate up to several hundred pounds of force per square inch! If a child has a misalignment, those powerful jaw muscles won’t be able to bite down evenly, and can create an imbalance or place significant pressure on certain teeth. 

In an attempt to correct this, the jaw muscles will often overcompensate, leading to soreness and imbalances in the child’s jaw. Severe jaw pain can not only make eating uncomfortable, but it can also interfere with the child’s speech, breathing, and sleeping. The joint where the upper and lower jaw meets is complex, so improper functioning can lead to chronic pain in some children, even when their jaw isn’t moving. 

What causes a misaligned bite? How can it be treated?

There are several reasons your child might develop a malocclusion. Bad bites or crooked teeth are often the result of genetics, but this can also occur with:

  • mouths that are too small for their teeth
  • upper jaw and lower jaws that are different sizes
  • the early loss of baby teeth
  • jaw injuries
  • extended thumb sucking or pacifier use 
  • prolonged use of a bottle 
  • tongue thrusting

While you may not always be able to prevent a misaligned bite, there are steps you can take to correct it! Because every child’s smile is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. When you schedule an evaluation for your child with our Panama City office, one of our doctors will perform an oral examination and assess your child’s teeth and jaw. 

If treatment is required, we’ll create a customized treatment plan based on your child’s specific needs. This may include the use of one or more orthodontic appliances, something we’ll discuss with you in detail during their visit. Some of the most common treatment options include the following.

Recognizing And Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw


Braces tend to be the most common way to correct a malocclusion. With braces treatment, brackets are affixed to the front or back of the teeth and connected with a flexible wire. The wire is regularly tightened throughout the treatment process, slowly moving the teeth and jaw into more optimal positions. 

We may also use elastic bands to apply pressure that will achieve better alignment. Once treatment is complete, we’ll provide the patient with a retainer that will help keep their new smile in place.   

Upper jaw expander

Upper jaw expanders are an orthodontic appliance we can use to correct an underbite. The wire-frame device fits across the upper palate, and a special key is used to widen the expander a very small amount each night. Over time, this will widen the upper jaw and bring the bite into alignment.  

Jaw surgery

In rare instances, jaw surgery may be required to correct a misaligned bite, although this is typically reserved for patients who are struggling to perform everyday functions like eating, sleeping, and speaking. 

Thankfully, we can usually correct alignment issues in children before they get serious enough to need surgery. 

How will my child benefit from a corrected bite?

Correcting a misaligned bite can relieve jaw pain, but there are other benefits to consider as well! Your child’s teeth will be easier to clean, which reduces their risk of tooth decay and cavities. They’ll be less likely to chip their teeth or lose them prematurely, and they’ll be able to speak with more clarity. Appropriate treatment will help increase your child’s self-confidence and give them a smile they’ll be proud to share with everyone around them! 

Recognizing And Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Find your child’s best smile at Buttram Orthodontics

Buttram Orthodontics 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! 

If you’re in or near Panama City 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!