Recognizing and Treating Your Child’s Misaligned Jaw

There are so many reasons to get orthodontic treatment from Mountain West Dental Specialists. From cosmetic makeovers to functional tune-ups, our team of experts does it all, including offering Braces Las Vegas and Invisalign Las Vegas. One of the most common reasons for treatment, however, is a misaligned jaw. The problem? Without a trained orthodontist, you may not even know your child has one! Keep reading to learn how to recognize and treat your child’s misaligned jaw.

Recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw is our specialty, extending to comprehensive services like Las Vegas Pediatric Dentistry and managing Pediatric Dental Emergencies. We can’t wait to see your smile. Keep reading to learn more about this orthodontic issue and how we can help.

Misaligned Jaws: What are they?

In an ideal world, your child’s upper and lower teeth meet comfortably when they close their mouth. Unfortunately for many kids, this isn’t the case. When your child’s teeth don’t meet the way they’re meant to, they’ve got a misaligned jaw. The orthodontic term? Malocclusion

There are several types of malocclusion. Each is named depending on how your teeth fit together, but they can be hard to spot if you aren’t a trained orthodontist. The best way to know if your child has a malocclusion is if an orthodontist assesses their smile. They could have one of the following bite patterns:


Overbites are arguably the most common bite pattern. If your child’s top teeth overlap their bottom teeth when their mouth is closed, they may have an overbite. Not every overbite requires correction, but more severe overbites may cause their chin to have a receding appearance known as a “weak” chin. 


You can easily recognize an underbite by a protruding lower jaw that causes the bottom teeth to rest in front of the top teeth when your child’s mouth is closed. Kids with underbites may see the most significant change in facial symmetry by implementing an orthodontic treatment plan. 

Open Bite

You can identify your child’s open bite by the distinctive gap between the top and bottom teeth – they don’t meet in the middle. While this bite pattern can pose various issues, including difficulty chewing, it can also cause the face to appear longer. People with this bite pattern may also see significant results with orthodontic treatment. 


Crossbites consist of what looks like a mix of the above two malocclusions so that in this pattern, some of the front teeth overlap the bottom teeth and some rest behind the bottom teeth. 

Effects of a Misaligned Jaw

When your child’s jaws don’t meet the way they should, it can cause a lot of stress and strain on the muscles and bones around the area. This strain can lead to discomfort in many different places, including their face, shoulders, neck, and back. They may even experience headaches, facial discomfort, tender jaw, and earaches. 

Malocclusions can also lead to crooked smiles, receding jawlines or “weak chin,” or even temporomandibular joint disorder. Each of these issues can make your child feel self-conscious about their smile. Fortunately, orthodontic treatment can help. 

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

How Mountain West Dental Specialists Can Help

You may not always be able to prevent your child’s misaligned bite, but there are definitely steps you can take to correct it! Orthodontic treatment is the most common method for addressing problems caused by malocclusions, and we offer several treatment plans that can help!

Metal Braces

This treatment method is excellent for patients with moderate to severe orthodontic issues. With a system of brackets and wires, these braces straighten your teeth by applying constant, gentle pressure. They’re a durable and reliable option that ensures your treatment runs smoothly and effectively.  

Metal braces are great at fixing complex tooth issues. They work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than other treatments, potentially shortening treatment time. Treatment time depends on the severity of your condition but typically ranges from 12-36 months. 

Clear Braces

Clear braces are also called ceramic braces or aesthetic braces, and they work in the same way as metal braces. Designed to provide patients with a more subtle treatment option, clear braces use white brackets that blend in with your teeth for a less noticeable effect. 

Many of our patients choose clear braces over traditional metal braces because they provide the best of both worlds. Clear braces are both a durable treatment plan that works for all orthodontic conditions and a more aesthetic option. For older teens or adults, clear braces are an excellent choice to meet all your orthodontic needs. 


Straightening your teen’s teeth with Invisalign can be a great option if they want the least noticeable treatment. Using a series of customized clear aligner trays, Invisalign straightens your smile without the bulky brackets and wires of traditional metal or clear braces. 

As our most flexible treatment option, Invisalign allows us to straighten your loved one’s teeth without changing their diet or oral hygiene routine.

Other Treatments 

We recommend trying orthodontics before any other method of treatment, but braces don’t work for everyone. If orthodontic treatment doesn’t work, there are several other options that could fix your child’s misaligned jaw. 

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. This is usually reserved for patients who are struggling to eat, sleep, or speak properly. The sooner we treat alignment issues, the better the chance of avoiding jaw surgery! If your child is showing any signs of a misaligned jaw, we encourage you to schedule them for an orthodontic evaluation with us as soon as possible. We can usually correct a child’s problems with alignment before they get serious enough to need surgery.

Benefits of Treatment

Correcting a misaligned bite will help relieve jaw pain, but treatment comes with other benefits, too! Straight teeth are easier to clean effectively, reducing the risk of tooth decay and cavities. They’re also less likely to chip or become loose. Eating will be pain-free again, and many patients find it easier to sleep and speak properly after treatment. Our customized treatments will give you a smile that feels good, looks great, and functions perfectly!

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Our Family Serving Your Family

When you visit our office for treatment, our number one goal is to make you smile. Whether you’re looking for your child’s new pediatric dentist or an orthodontist to straighten your own smile, our team is here for you. Schedule your consultation in Las Vegas to get started today!