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Signs of Skeletal Jaw Problems in Children

You take your young 7-year old daughter to a routine visit to a dentist and mention that she grinds in her sleep. You also mention that the permanent incisors, which are erupting by now, are coming in slightly crowded. You are reassured that the “grinding is probably due to stress”, and “at age 13 we will evaluate the need for braces.” The child may be prescribed medication if there is a concurrent hyperactivity syndrome.

I disagree. Both conditions are signs of an impending problem. The grinding is usually a manifestation of childhood airway distress at night. Childhood sleep apnea is also one of the factors of hyperactivity in children.

As for the waiting, if we wait till age 13, we will miss the window of opportunity to modify the jaw growth pattern. 90% of the facial skeletal growth occurs before the age of 8.  How logical is it, to wait until the growth phase passes, before intervening with jaw orthopedics? Function influences the growth of the jaws and the skeleton, especially in the early formative years of life. Just when they are within the potential for rapid change and growth, with bone and teeth dynamically remodeling, it is reasonable that simple orthopedic intervention will modify the growth of the developing facial and jaw bones in a young child. Thus, even if they DO need braces for crooked teeth, its duration will be less than a year, rather than the customary 2-3 years, but most importantly, the preceding  jaw orthopedics will (in most cases) make sure that healthy teeth are NOT extracted to make room, the jaw-joint is in a proper position, the dental arches are large and healthy, the jawbone foundations are right, and the child grows up with a wide smile and a healthy profile.

Following are some points of observation for parents and physicians:

Early treatment in a growing child with functional orthopedics and jaw development helps in: 

  1. Non-extraction orthodontics
  2. Creating a convex, attractive profile with proper lip support
  3. A broad, attractive and spectacular smile
  4. Proper space and function for the tongue.


  1. No SPACES between the baby teeth – A sure indication that there will be crowding in the permanent dentition.
  2. AN OPEN BITE – An opening between the top and bottom incisors, could mean that your child has a wrong swallowing pattern, or “tongue thrust,” which in turn is related to a small jaw size.
  3. WORN-DOWN BABY INCISORS in children of ages under 7 are a sure sign that the child has a jaw anomaly and subsequently grinds.
  4. GRINDING of the teeth at night has been associated with an airway deficiency during sleep, mainly due to the lower jaw being retruded (positioned backwards), or enlarged tonsils.
  5. BUCK-TEETH in 8-10-year-olds is rarely the result of the upper teeth being too far forward, but rather the lower jaw lagging behind. Sometimes it is compounded by the habit of wedging of the lower lip between the upper and lower teeth.
  6. SNORING at night is not normal in children and is usually the result of constricted airways due to adenoids and tonsils and/or a retruded lower jaw.
  7. Recurrent EARACHES and excessive earwax in a child have been attributed to the lower jaw being positioned too far backward (retruded) and placing pressure on the jaw-joint and ear.

For more information on childhood jaw issues and orthopedics, please refer to

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The information provided in this site is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice and is not intended to provide complete medical information. KidsMisdiagnosed, Inc does not offer personalized medical diagnosis of patient-specific treatment advice. All medical information presented should be discussed with your healthcare professional. Remember, the failure to seek timely medical advice can have serious ramifications. KidsMisdiagnosed, Inc urges you to discuss any current health related problems you or your child are experiencing with a healthcare professional immediately.