There are a number of reasons why someone may look into reshaping their jawline — for a more defined profile, stronger chin, or to correct an overbite — but what patients often don’t realize is that going under the knife (or needle!) isn’t the only way to do so. Cosmetic dentistry treatments, specifically, clear aligners like Invisalign®, can improve the alignment of the jawline for both functional and aesthetic benefits.
Clear Aligners for Jaw Correction
We often think of clear aligners as an alternative to traditional metal braces for patients who are looking to straighten out their smile, but the teeth alignment system can also be used to correct the shape of the chin and jaw. “As a dentist, I’m often concerned by jaw pain, soreness, and open or closed locking in the jaw,” says Stacy Spizuoco, DDS, a New York City-based cosmetic dentist with Onsite Dental and clinical instructor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
As we’ve discussed, orthognathic surgery (a.k.a. jaw surgery) is a highly involved procedure that is often combined with several years of orthodontic treatments to correct pronounced underbites and overbites and improve facial symmetry. For patients with less severe alignment concerns, surgery can be avoided in favor of a clear alignment protocol, like Invisalign®, for jawline fixes.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about dentistry for jaw correction:
1. Orthodontics Can Correct Malocclusions
Abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth (a.k.a. malocclusions) can cause jaw pain and unevenness. Clear aligners can correct a collapsed bite, cross bite, open bite, and even some minor jaw unevenness.
2. Not Everyone Is a Good Candidate
“The ideal candidate for jaw correction procedures is someone who has one jaw that has developed the opposite way it should have,” Dr. Spizuoco explains. For example, patients may have a lower jaw that overlaps the upper jaw, when it should be the other way around. “Some people can live comfortably like that, but others will have constant pain and tooth issues,” she says.
3. Results Vary
Much like traditional braces, clear aligner treatment protocols can take up to two years for full results, but most people need about 10 to 15 months of full-time wear to see the benefits. It’s worth noting that committing to a long-term aligner plan requires diligence. Check out the 15 things one of our writers wishes she knew before starting Invisalign®.
4. Dentistry Is Part of Jaw Surgery Treatment Plans
Advanced and severe jaw conditions will likely need to be corrected with surgery, but anyone getting jaw surgery will usually have some form of orthodontics before and/or after the procedure to ensure the proper alignment of the jaw.
5. Clear Aligners Aren’t The Only Non-Surgical Solution
If aligners aren’t an option, Dr. Spizuoco recommends patients try a night guard “that can be worn to protect pressure on the teeth and jaws.” Another therapy gaining off-label popularity for easing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain? Botox®. “[It is used for] pain relief and to relax the muscles of the face,” she says. In addition to treating TMJ disorders, injecting the neurotoxin into the masseter muscles also slims the jawline.
A misaligned upper or lower jaw can cause pain, discomfort, and aesthetic abnormalities. With or without surgery, clear aligners can be used to help reshape the jawline and stabilize the results of previous procedures. To better understand your treatment options, consult with your dentist.
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