Understanding Jaw and Facial Malformations

With some patients, braces can correct their orthodontic issues. With others, however, surgery may be required to correct jaw or facial malformations.


In this blog, Howard Spector, DDS, who is an expert orthodontist and maxillofacial surgeon at Millennium Park Orthodontics in Chicago, explains how jaw and facial malformations can affect your orthodontic treatment.

What’s the problem?

Deformities in the face and jaw can cause problems with eating, speaking, chewing, sleeping, and even breathing. They can also cause serious teeth alignment issues.

Incorrect jaw alignment

Deformities often involve cases where the upper or lower jaws have grown too much or too little. When this happens, the teeth will not line up correctly. Furthermore, if your jaws don’t line up correctly ― for example, your bottom jaw sticks out too far (underbite), or your upper jaw sticks out too far (overbite) ― your face may not look like it’s in proportion. These kinds of deformities often can’t be fixed with braces. The only way to correct these issues is with surgery.

Oral health issues

Along with the visible signs of improperly aligned jaws, malformations can put stress on your temporomandibular joint and facial muscles, causing pain and, sometimes, jaw degeneration. This stress can bring about long-term problems with the health of your teeth and gums. If the joint is not functioning correctly, it can result in teeth grinding and misaligned chewing, which can cause tooth pain. Receding gums can also be made worse by an incorrect bite.

How are malformations treated?

When Dr. Spector evaluates your face and jaw for malformations, he will examine the proportions of your face and check for any functional problems you have with your jaws, teeth, airways, and dental hygiene. He may also use imaging tests, such as X-rays, to learn more about your condition.


If your deformity is caused by unequal jaw growth, Dr. Spector can perform surgery to move your jaws into their correct positions. Depending on your situation, he may move one or both of your jaws forward, backward, up, or down to line them up correctly and make them proportional to the rest of your face.


The best candidates for corrective jaw surgery are people who have finished growing, so if your child has a malformation, they may need to undergo orthodontic treatment first and wait for the corrective surgery. If you have finished growing and have not had orthodontic treatment, you will likely need to get orthodontic treatment before you get corrective surgery.

If you have a malformation or want to see if you do, Dr. Spector can give you a thorough examination and provide treatment if needed. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Millennium Park Orthodontics today.

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