Identifying and Treating a Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Hall & Koppel Orthodontics has been creating beautiful smiles for patients of all ages for over 50 years. We’re passionate about what we do and our team is proud to support oral health for families throughout Hot Springs! While we treat many teens and adults, we see our fair share of young children, too. Many of their parents come to us with the same question: “How will I know if my child needs orthodontic treatment?” We’re here to help you with identifying and treating your child’s misaligned jaw. 

The truth is, there’s no real “one size fits all” answer to that! There are several factors we have to take into consideration when determining if a child is likely to require braces, clear aligners, or other orthodontic treatment. We’ll look at how old they are, the way their teeth and jaws are developing, and the results we’re hoping to achieve, among other things. 

One way we’re able to cover all these bases is with an early orthodontic evaluation! These are recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists for every child around 7 years old and with good reason—by this age, most kids have enough dental “landmarks” in place that an experienced orthodontist can ensure their teeth, jaw, and bite are developing as they should be. 

While parents can always count on our doctors to create a customized treatment plan for their child, there are several common conditions they’ll be looking for during an initial consultation. It can be helpful to understand what these issues are and how we can correct them as you consider treatment for your own child. Keep reading below to learn more! 

Identifying and Treating a Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Crowded teeth

Brushing and flossing regularly are an essential part of maintaining a healthy mouth. Unfortunately, crowded teeth can make this more difficult to accomplish.  Children who have trouble with dental hygiene are more likely to develop tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems. If your child has crowded teeth that are hard to keep clean, orthodontic treatment can gradually move them into better positions over time. This will give them a more evenly spaced smile! Treatment can also lessen facial tension and relieve some chewing and speech difficulties.

Gapped teeth

Gaps in teeth are very common in childhood. They can occur for a variety of reasons, including genetics, thumb or finger sucking, and extended use of a bottle or pacifier. If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, our doctors will be able to identify the underlying cause and address it. This can be accomplished with a customized treatment plan designed to close the gaps and improve the function and appearance of their smile. 

Missing teeth

Some children have a noticeable gap because of congenitally missing teeth that never grew in. This type of gap can also be created when permanent teeth are lost due to injury or disease. If this is something your child is dealing with, we can use braces to move the existing teeth into the proper positions. Your family dentist can then place a bonded bridge or implant to fill the gap formed from the missing tooth. 

Sometimes we can use braces to completely close the spaces that are left from missing teeth. This means no restorations are needed once the orthodontic process is complete! While this approach may take a little longer, it may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for future dental treatment.

Open bite

With an open bite, the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close when smiling or chewing. Many open bite cases come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a noticeably rounded formation.

Whatever the underlying cause, we’ll generally treat an open bite with a combination of orthodontic appliances. In many cases, we can pair braces or clear aligners with something known as a “Bluegrass” appliance. This device prevents the tongue from putting pressure against the anterior teeth when swallowing, training it to swallow correctly in the process.

Once open bite treatment is complete, your child will enjoy a beautifully aligned smile that allows them to close their teeth properly and eat all their favorite foods with ease.

Deep overbite

When a child has a deep overbite, the lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also overlap the lower front teeth. Out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints. It can also have an impact on the shape and appearance of a patient’s face.

Depending on how complex the case is, treatment for a deep overbite may require orthodontics and restorative dentistry together, or orthodontics alone may be able to correct it. This will not only improve the functionality of your child’s teeth but will also dramatically improve the appearance of their smile.


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain at the jaw joint and the angled pressure can wear down some of the front teeth. Children with underbites have quite a few treatment options available to them, including:

  • an upper jaw expander, which can be widened nightly until treatment is complete
  • a reverse-pull face mask, which wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the back upper teeth to pull the upper jaw forward
  • traditional braces to adjust the misaligned teeth

Treating an underbite successfully will help relieve any pain and discomfort your child is experiencing. This will make smiling, eating, and even breathing easier for them!


Overjets are often referred to as “buck teeth” and occur when the top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. It’s most effectively treated when diagnosed early, as this allows us to use the child’s growth to our advantage and guide the eruption of the teeth. The child’s age and specific needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but options generally include:

  • bite correction devices
  • traditional braces
  • removable orthodontic appliances
  • tooth removal
  • surgery

Once a child’s overjet issues have been treated and corrected, they’ll be left with a healthy, balanced smile that looks great and feels good, too! 

Identifying and Treating a Child’s Misaligned Jaw

Find your child’s best smile at Hall & Koppel Orthodontics

Have you been wondering if your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment? If so, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how their smile is developing so far! Our expert team is proud to provide personalized care for every child we treat and we work hard to offer a stress-free process from start to finish. If you’re in the Hot Springs area and would like to learn more about how we can help your child accomplish their best smile, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Hall or Dr. Koppel!