You probably know that orthodontic treatment can straighten your teeth and create an ideal bite. But how can Invisalign and braces change your face shape too? The answer is they can, though whether or not they do, and to what extent, will depend on the type of malocclusion (improper bite) you have and the severity of the issue.
When our Omaha orthodontist Dr. Hawley creates a treatment plan for you, he bases it on your unique facial features and profile, while also keeping in mind how your face will change as you get older. This ensures you get your best smile.
In this post, we’ll cover:
How braces change your face shape
The role of early intervention for creating facial symmetry
Examples of the ways Invisalign and braces can change your jawline and the shape of your face
Why face changes after braces or Invisalign highlight the importance of seeing a certified specialist in orthodontics
How Braces Change Your Face Shape
It’s pretty rare that a person has a perfectly symmetrical face. Usually, it’s not something most people even notice. However, in cases where the upper or lower jaw grow at different rates, or there is an issue with the positioning of the jaw, such as often seen with an underbite, overbite or crossbite, facial asymmetry can be more pronounced. The good news is, Invisalign and braces can fix an asymmetrical face by aligning the jaws and bringing the facial features into balance.
All About Angles
Patients sometimes ask us things like: Do braces change your nose? Will orthodontic treatment make my face look longer? No, orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign and braces, does not directly impact your nose or lengthen your face. The reason people occasionally think their nose looks different after braces or their face seems to have lengthened is about the angles. When we shift the teeth and jaws into position, it alters the angles between your lips and nose and, sometimes, between the lips and chin, potentially causing your nose or other features to look a tiny bit different.
As for exactly how braces change your face shape, the appliance exerts steady, gentle pressure, which stimulates a natural process in the body known as bone remodeling. The bone and tissue break down (don’t worry, this is painless and happens throughout your life even without an appliance!), allowing the teeth to shift in the direction your aligners or braces wires are guiding them. As the teeth move into their ideal positions, your lips and, as a result, profile will shift along with the teeth. In many cases, it happens almost imperceptibly.
For jaw discrepancies, we’ll often pair braces or Invisalign with auxiliaries such as rubber bands.Things like rubber bands give us more leverage and help move the upper and lower jaw so that the top and bottom arches come together properly. Shifting the jaw will lead to a more noticeable difference.
Everyone is Unique
Changes to your face before and after braces or Invisalign are always more dramatic for skeletal concerns and issues that are moderate to severe. On the other hand, changes will be very minor, if at all, if, for example, you have slightly crooked teeth but your bite is normal. For some patients, there is little to no change in the face and for others, facial enhancements are actually a key part of their treatment plan.
The Role of Early Intervention When Correcting Facial Asymmetry
When discussing face changes after braces or Invisalign, it’s important to keep in mind that early intervention can be key if facial enhancements are part of the goal. For certain skeletal irregularities, such as a severe overbite or underbite, we can much more easily manipulate the jaw, guide its growth and fix the jawline with braces or appliances if we intervene when a patient is still developing. In fact, fixing facial asymmetry is a common aim of phase 1 orthodontic treatment.
The Purpose of Phase 1 Treatment
In phase 1 treatment, Dr. Hawley focuses on orthopedic correction, which is when we guide jaw growth while a patient still has baby teeth. By altering the size, positioning or even shape of the jaw, appliances or braces can fix an asymmetrical face more effectively. It also creates space for the permanent teeth to erupt properly. Treatment will have a dramatic impact on the patient’s facial appearance that can last a lifetime.
What if You’re Done Growing?
Though early intervention is effective for certain cases, if you’re an adult, that doesn’t mean we can’t use Invisalign or braces to fix the jawline or make your face look more symmetrical. It’s never too late to get a smile you love. Since you’re done growing, in severe cases of malocclusion that are skeletal in nature, surgical orthodontics could be necessary, which is when we pair braces or Invisalign with corrective jaw surgery.
That said, for most orthodontic concerns, braces and Invisalign will be effective. Those angles we talked about can give the perception of more balanced facial features. Additionally, aligning the teeth and improving the bite can make the smile look wider, which also acts kind of like a non-surgical facelift, lifting the skin around the mouth and giving you a more youthful appearance.
Face Changes Before and After Braces or Invisalign for Common Cases
Now that you know how braces change the face shape, let’s go over some examples to illustrate these changes in action.
Braces or Invisalign for an Overbite
An overbite is when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth. Nearly everyone has some degree of an overbite, but when the space between the top and bottom teeth is too large, orthodontic treatment may be necessary. Because of how the upper jaw is positioned, an overbite can make the cheeks look sunken in or cause what’s known as a “weak” chin. Invisalign or braces can fix the jawline in a lot of instances. By bringing the arches together properly, your chin and jaw will look stronger and it will create a more harmonious facial profile.
Invisalign or Braces for an Underbite
When a patient has an underbite, the bottom teeth sit in front of the top teeth when the mouth is closed, making the lower jaw stick out. An underbite is a type of malocclusion where the face changes after braces or Invisalign will likely be significant. Fixing the discrepancy between the upper and lower jaw, and ensuring the upper and lower teeth meet correctly will create balance in the lower half of your face. It will also make your facial features look more proportionate and your chin less sharp.
Invisalign or Braces for an Open Bite
A patient is said to have an open bite when the upper and lower teeth don’t meet at all. It usually affects the front teeth. As you can imagine, the lips have to stretch in an effort to cover the teeth when you close your mouth. This can really impact the appearance of your face and may even make it look longer, not to mention the difficulty it creates when chewing or biting into foods. When we use Invisalign or braces for an open bite, we close the space between the upper and lower arch and help the front teeth make contact. This will improve the look of your lips and cheeks and your face won’t appear as long.
Braces or Invisalign for a Crossbite
A crossbite occurs when some of the bottom teeth are in front of some of the top teeth. For certain types of crossbites, particularly if they’re moderate or severe, patients often compensate by shifting the jaw to one side. This creates unwanted changes in the facial structure. Fixing a crossbite will help the jaws shift into their ideal places, making the face more symmetrical and your lips look harmonious with the rest of your face.
Braces or Invisalign for Other Types of Malocclusion
Your face shape can become distorted by any type of bite issues or even just from misalignment of the teeth. Aligning the jaw and teeth with braces or Invisalign will give you a stunning, healthy smile. Since your smile is a major feature on your face, this can change your appearance in a positive way.
Why This Highlights the Importance of Seeing an Orthodontist for Treatment
We know there are ads all over the place for clear aligners you can order online and general dentists offering teeth-straightening services. Any type of treatment, including Invisalign and braces, has the potential to create permanent changes in your dental and facial anatomy. That’s why it’s so important to visit a certified specialist in orthodontics for treatment, even if your smile concerns are mild.
An orthodontist like Dr. Hawley receives two to three years of speciality training after dental school where they learn the intricacies of straightening the teeth and aligning the jaw. They’re specialists in diagnosing, preventing and treating dental and facial irregularities in a way that creates a functional bite, a more beautiful smile and improves your oral health.
Dr. Hawley uses computerized treatment planning, allowing him to see your teeth, jaws and face from every angle. He can visualize different outcomes and move each individual tooth into its ideal place on a virtual, 3D rendering of your smile. He considers how tooth movements will affect your profile and the way your lips come together, even accounting for the natural changes that occur to your face as you age. The end result is a custom smile that complements your facial features.
As you can see, how braces change your face shape is dependent on your diagnosis and your orthodontist’s treatment plan. Whether you’re interested in getting Invisalign or braces to fix your jawline, create facial symmetry or just to correct mildly crooked teeth, we’ve got you covered at Hawley Orthodontics. Dr. Hawley will design a gorgeous smile that’s uniquely you and he can even show you a simulation of what your new smile will look like before you begin treatment. To get started, schedule a free consultation at our Papillion orthodontics practice today!