Common Childhood Jaw Problems

Photo,Of,Youngster,With,His,Mouth,Wide,Open,During,Checkup As children grow, the jaw may not always develop in the proper position. This can lead to speech and language difficulties and orthodontic issues that need surgery to correct. Early treatment can help identify childhood jaw problems and help you correct them early on.

Knowing some of the issues your child might encounter is important. Some of the most common among those are listed below.

Underdeveloped Jaw

Underdevelopment can apply to the upper or lower jaws. When the upper jaw is underdeveloped, the top teeth lag behind the bottom teeth, and you get an underbite.

When the lower jaw is underdeveloped, the inverse applies, and the child has an overbite.

In either case, the underdevelopment causes stress on jaw joints. This can lead to pain, but many cases are also painless. Even when pain does not occur, overbites and underbites increase tooth wear.

This raises the prevalence of cavities, tooth decay, and enamel erosion. To correct this, orthodontics enables the growth of the underdeveloped jaw while discouraging growth in the overdeveloped jaw. Headgear is a common example.

Crowding or Spacing

Crowding and spacing are among the most common problems that make people think of orthodontics.

When crowding occurs, the jaw does not provide enough room for the teeth. As a result, teeth twist and grow out of alignment. This makes it harder to clean teeth and amplifies the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Meanwhile, spacing occurs when the jaw gives more space than the teeth can fill, and you get gaps between teeth. This can make eating painful and more difficult, and it also increases the risk of cavities and gum disease.

These issues are often treated with realignment (think braces), but when jaw development presents the underlying issue, that also must be addressed. Devices like palate expanders can help address jaw issues. From there, alignment techniques can correct the teeth and improve oral health.


TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint. This joint flexes when you eat or talk, and during childhood, it can become stressed or inflamed. This often causes head, face, neck, and/or jaw pain. It can make eating more difficult, and TMJ dysfunction might also come with clicking or popping sounds.

In extreme cases, a jaw can also lock. To help your child avoid TMJ disorder (TMD), it is important to work with an orthodontist who can detect issues early and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Corrective orthodontics addresses the root causes of TMJ. Mouth guards can prevent clenching or other issues that lead to TMJ, lessening symptoms or even preventing the issue altogether. In some cases, orthognathic surgery may be an ideal solution.

Get Help from Advanced Orthodontic Care

Dr. Robert Rudman and Dr. Jeff Birg are here to support your child’s oral health. You can contact our Denver, CO, office by calling 303-332-0222. You can also fill out the online form to get started.

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