How We Identify & Treat Jaw Misalignments In Children

For more than 30 years, York families have trusted their smiles to Andrew Pedersen Orthodontics! As a family-focused practice, we treat patients of all ages, including children. Our doctors have had years of training and experience in identifying the common issues younger patients face, including misaligned bites. These malocclusions can cause jaw pain and other problems for children, but there’s good news—we can often catch these during early childhood evaluations! 

These visits are so important that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child has one by the time they’re about seven years old. When you schedule a complimentary consultation for your child, they’ll receive a painless but thorough oral examination. Our doctors will assess their smile and determine if their bite is developing as it should be. They’ll also check for several common orthodontic issues that can show up during this exam. We’ll outline some of these below, so keep reading to learn more.  

Crowded teeth

A good dental hygiene routine is essential for maintaining oral health, but crowded teeth can interfere by making brushing and flossing more difficult. This increases the risk of developing tooth decay, cavities, and other dental issues.  

Gapped teeth

Gaps in the teeth are quite common in childhood and occur for various reasons. These may include genetics, thumb sucking, and extended use of a bottle or pacifier. When a child has too much space between their teeth, it is important to identify any underlying causes and address them if necessary.

Missing teeth

Some children have a gapped smile because of congenitally missing teeth. Others may lose permanent teeth through injury or disease. Whatever the cause, children with missing teeth will often benefit from orthodontic appliances like braces. These appliances can move the existing teeth into the proper positions, at which point a dentist can place a bonded bridge or implant to fill the gap.

Open bite

With an open bite, the upper and lower rows of the front teeth do not touch or close when a child is 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.

Deep overbite

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

How We Identify & Treat Jaw Misalignments In Children


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain in the jaw joint. The angled pressure may also wear down some of the front teeth, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful for a child.


Overjets, also known as “buck teeth,” occur when a child’s top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. Overjets are most effectively treated when diagnosed early, as this allows an experienced orthodontist to guide the eruption of their permanent teeth.

What treatments are available to correct a child’s misaligned jaw?

Your child’s smile is as special as they are! They have unique needs and that’s why we’ll build a customized treatment plan around their specific case. This plan may include one or more orthodontic appliances. If our doctors believe treatment is indicated for your child, this will be discussed with you in detail during their evaluation. Our practice offers the following treatment options.

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces are the most popular orthodontic appliance, and with good reason! They can be an extremely effective option, particularly for cases that are more severe or complicated. Modern braces use high-quality stainless steel, but innovations in the design mean they’re much more comfortable than previous versions—and much more attractive, too! The total treatment time also tends to be shorter than it used to be.

Clear braces

These braces work the same way traditional braces do but benefit from using clear, white, or tooth-colored brackets. For an almost invisible treatment option, we can use them with matching elastics or ties! This makes them popular with our more image-conscious patients. Clear brackets are more delicate than metal braces, so we generally recommend them only for older teen and adult patients.

Invisalign clear aligner therapy

The Invisalign system uses a series of clear removable aligners to move the teeth instead of brackets and wires. These are made of a soft but strong thermoplastic resin material and customized to fit snugly but comfortably over your teeth. Patients must wear the aligners for 20-22 hours each day to move the teeth into the desired positions. Each aligner must also be switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the shifting teeth.

While these are all excellent solutions for orthodontic issues, not every treatment option will be a good fit for every patient. That’s why it’s so important to work with a qualified orthodontist! During your child’s evaluation, one of our doctors will assess their bite, then provide a diagnosis with a personalized treatment plan. This ensures they receive the best treatment at the most optimal time, setting them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles!

How We Identify & Treat Jaw Misalignments In Children

Find your child’s best smile with Andrew Pedersen Orthodontics

Correcting a child’s misaligned bite can be beneficial in many ways. It can help prevent or eliminate jaw pain, reduce the risk of developing tooth decay and cavities, and improve speech. Treatment can also make eating, sleeping, and breathing easier, and gives kids a boost in self-confidence! 

If our doctors feel that it’s in your child’s best interest to wait for treatment, you’ll be invited to bring them in for regular evaluations as they grow. We’ll monitor how their smile develops and let you know when they’re ready for the next step in their orthodontic journey. These visits are provided at no charge to you. 

To learn more about how our expert team can identify and treat misalignments, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation for your child!

Be sure to visit us at our York office for a free consult