Call Us Today: 575.521.0127
University Family Dental Dental logo
Request an AppointmentRequest an Appointment

Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Understanding Orthognathic Anatomy and ProblemsLa anatom­a ortogn¡tica y sus problemas

Understanding Orthognathic Anatomy and Problems

A jaw that's too small, too large, or crooked can cause problems with chewing, speaking, breathing, and even sleeping. The shape of your jaws also affects the way your face looks. This sheet helps you understand how the teeth and jaws work. It also describes common jaw problems that may need treatment.

How Bones and Teeth Shape the Face

Bones are the framework for the face. The size and position of facial bones determine how well the teeth fit together. Together, the positions of the jaws and teeth affect chewing, speaking, and the working of the jaw joint. The jaws also hold and support soft tissues, such as the muscles, lips, and tongue. And of course the jaws and teeth are factors in the face's shape and appearance.

How the Jaws Work

The lower jaw holds the tongue, which moves freely as you speak and eat. The upper jaw shapes the floor of the nasal cavity, allowing normal airflow. Normally, muscles are evenly developed on both sides of the face.

Common Problems

Some common jaw alignment problems are described below. It's also common to have a combination of these problems.

  • Lower jaw too far back: When the lower jaw is too far back (retrognathia), biting can be difficult. The chin appears weak or receding.

  • Lower jaw too far forward: A lower jaw that is too far forward (prognathia) causes the chin to protrude. Lower teeth may jut outward to overlap the upper teeth.

  • Open bite (teeth don't meet): An open bite is often due to a long upper jaw. This can cause a "gummy smile." Or the problem may be that the rear of the lower jaw is too short. An open bite can make it impossible to close the lips.

  • Asymmetry (jaws are uneven): Uneven jaws are larger or smaller on one side than on the other. Or one side may be too far forward or back. The face may look off-center or crooked.

When Jaws Are Not Aligned

Poorly aligned jaws can result in a variety of problems, including:

  • Chewing problems: You may find it difficult to bite into a sandwich or an apple, or difficult to keep food in your mouth as you chew. The TMJs may be stiff or painful.

  • Speech problems: It may be difficult to make certain sounds or to speak clearly.

  • Breathing problems: If the airway is narrow or blocked, breathing may be noisy or difficult. You may have sleep apnea (breathing that stops during sleep).

  • Problems with appearance: You may be unhappy with the way you look. This can make you self-conscious and may affect your confidence.

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified:

Comprehensive, experienced dentistry care aimed at achieving exceptional outcomes awaits you at University Family Dental. Schedule your visit at 575.521.0127. For your convenience, you can fill out our online Request an Appointment.

University Family Dental

Meet Your Dental Team

Comfortable, relaxed and pampering dental care awaits you at University Family Dental. Since 2006, we have served the Las Cruces, NM area and its nearby communities. Our highly skilled and experienced dental professionals are known for their affable personality and great chairside manners. Look to them for a unique, personalized dental care that promises splendid results.

quotes

Our patients say it best...

  • I was greeted by a friendly face immediately and was seen 2 minutes after I walked through the door. The staff is extremely professional, and always makes sure you're comfortable, including offering hand treatments with every cleaning. I would never go anywhere else for my dental services and surprisingly enough, I look forward to my visits at University Family Dental.

    -Antonio L.

  • I'd like to think Dr Martin and her wonderful staff they were delightful and very warm and the atmosphere was beautiful considering it's Christmas I really appreciate that it was so so spirited thank you guys for being such a great stuff I look forward to seeing you again Happy holidays to all.

    -Rachel S.

  • My experience with them was very pleasant. They were very professional and friendly and honest. They explain everything very well and I would definitely recommend them to all my friends and family.

    -Patsy R.

  • I have had dental and gum problems for years. At last I found a dentist who stopped the pain, gave me a "bite", a smile and great whitening solution for my teeth. Wonderful dentist and staff! Thankful I found Dr. Kim and her crew! Plus, they have a wax treatment for your hands!!!! It's like a dental spa!

    -Karen D.

  • Great staff, awesome service and always with a big smile....

    -Johnny G.

  • Very friendly fun and professional all wrapped up in one

    -Susie C.

Copyright © 2019 Practice Builders and University Family Dental. All rights reserved.