But what about those patients whose “overbite” is due to a small lower jaw? Does it make sense to adapt a good upper jaw to a faulty lower one? The answer is no. Limiting the growth of a good upper jaw or moving well-positioned upper front teeth to “fit” a small lower jaw may produce an acceptable bite. It will not, however, produce an attractive face.
Considering the aforementioned, what is the proper way of addressing an “overbite” due to a small lower jaw? The short answer is to encourage the lower jaw to grow and “catch up” with the upper jaw on pre-teen and early-teen patients. This concept gained popularity in Europe in the 50’s and arrived in America in the 70’s.
Although many times orthodontists accomplish corrections that are worthy of “wows,” there’s hardly any magic in what we do. We can’t “grow” a lower jaw or make it grow to pre-determined standards. When it comes to growth, orthodontic treatment is limited to the individual genetic growth potential each person has. What we can do, however, is try to create a treatment environment conducive to taking advantage of the maximum growth potential each person has during the growing years.
When it comes to treating the “overbite” of someone with a small lower jaw, there are many different appliances that once in place in the mouth can encourage the lower jaw to accomplish its maximum genetic growth potential. My appliance of choice is the HERBST APPLIANCE, which I will write more about in my next posting.