Photo of patient smiling after corrective cosmetic dental surgery to repair a severe bite problem or severe malocclusion.

After

I was listening to the news the other day and heard a report that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, chin implants are the fastest-growing plastic surgery trend among men and women nationwide, with a reported whopping 71% increase between 2010 and 2011.  Presumably because more people are seeing themselves webcams and don’t like what they see.

As a cosmetic dentist that provides orthodontic treatment, this caught my attention because it seems like an extreme –and in some cases a possibly misguided – fix that might be better addressed by first exploring whether or not repositioning one’s bite could achieve the same esthetic effect and improve a person’s dental health at the same time.

Why is it important to correct a bad bite? Severe malocclusion (bad bite) can cause many functional problems including inability to chew food properly (which compromises digestion); speech problems; facial dysfunction characterized by headaches, joint pain, and periodontal trauma.  It can even in some cases be part of treatment to help alleviate sleep apnea.  Treating moderate or severe malocclusion can make teeth easier to clean (and thereby decrease the risk of tooth decay and periodontal diseases). Treatment can also reduce or eliminate strain on the teeth, jaws, and muscles, which lessens the risk of breaking a tooth and may help reduce symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). In addition, having a beautiful smile can help one’s self-confidence.

Very few people have perfect teeth alignment.  According to a study done by the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, only 35% of the US population have well-aligned front teeth and about 20% of the population have significant deviations from “the ideal bite relationship.”  I can’t help but wonder how many of those seeking chin implants should really be consulting with a good cosmetic dentist first to see if there is a better solution to their esthetic concerns than plastic surgery that might also help improve their dental health as well.

Photo of patient's teeth with severe malocclusion or a bad bite prior to dental correction

Before

Patient's bite after being corrected for severe malocclusion (bad bite).

After

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