A question that some patients have is, “Can braces change your face or profile?” Orthodontic treatment can change your face but only in certain areas of the face. Braces can change your face in two areas, around your lips and your lower jaw. Your lips are supported by your teeth and they can effect greatly the position of your lips. I know you have seen the sunken in face of an edentulous (ie no teeth) patient. When they put their dentures in their mouth, their profile immediately changes for the better because the dentures support their lip just like natural teeth would.
Some patient expectations about facial changes are unrealistic. Some patients think moving their teeth can make their cheek bones more prominent or make their cheeks flatter or sunken in. This type of facial changes cannot be done by orthodontic treatment and moving your teeth. Here are some areas that orthodontic treatment can effect your facial profile.
Upper Incisor Protrusion
If your upper incisors are protruding, it will cause your upper lip to be too far forward compared to normal. By using a headgear, extractions and/or elastics, upper incisor protrusion can be corrected resulting in the upper lip being brought back into a better position and your profile improves. Upper incisor protrusion can occur just by the natural positions of the tooth buds and the eruption of the teeth. Also, this protrusion can be created in a young child that sucks their thumb.
In a child that sucks their thumb, the thumb pressure will push the upper incisors forward and slow the growth down of the lower jaw causing an excessive overjet. If your child sucks their thumb full time or part time, their habit should be stopped as soon as possible. Once the habit is stopped, natural growth and forces will start to get rid of the mandibular protrusion and incisor protrusion. See your orthodontist for an evaluation if you know your child has a thumb sucking habit.
A lot of patients have a retrusive mandible which results in an excessive overjet. An excessive overjet is a distance between the upper and lower incisors of more than 2 to 3 mm in a horizontal plane. A patient that has a retrusive mandible, can be treated with orthodontic treatment to move the lower jaw forward and produce a better profile. Some of the devices that are used to treat this problem are braces, elastics, a bionator, twin blocks, forsus, jasper jumper or a herbst appliance. These devices apply pressure to the mandible to make it grow in a forward direction. Better profiles are obtained in treating during a child’s growth periods. Once the patient becomes a young adult (ie. 16+ years old), it is harder to produce mandibular growth.
So as you can see, orthodontic treatment can change your facial profile.