Symmetry involves a line. It occurs when the things on one side of the line are equal to those on the other side. Think of it this way: imagine a regular 8” x 11” piece of notebook paper. Now fold it in half horizontally. Next, unfold it. The crease in the middle of the page creates symmetry between the top and bottom halves. If the two sides on either side of the line are unequal, we refer to this as asymmetry. Orthodontists deal with facial asymmetry, i.e. situations in which the sides of a person’s face are unequal. But can orthodontics fix facial asymmetry?
Depending on where the asymmetry occurs, the answer is yes. If facial asymmetry develops in the lower part of the face (i.e. the teeth, mouth, or jaw) then orthodontics can help. When teeth grow out of alignment, it will often affect the face. For those local to Tuscaloosa and Demopolis, Riverview Orthodontics wants to let you know all about repairing facial asymmetry.
What Exactly Is Facial Asymmetry?
Imagine the nose as the center of the face. Now, think of a vertical line going down through the nose. This line separates the face into left and right halves. When you see this in your mind, do the two halves match? Are the left and right halves of the face identical?
No one’s face will have pristine symmetry. Every human face will have tiny details and imperfections. These aspects of our faces give character to our appearance. They make us unique. But sometimes, if the structures of our faces become too irregular, they can make our lives more difficult.
Why Do People Have Asymmetry in their Faces?
Like any physical condition, facial asymmetry has a variety of causes and contributing factors. First and foremost, genetics play a predominant role in determining your facial features. For example, cleft lip and palate are genetically influenced. Our faces also change over time, as we age.
Accidents and injuries that result in damage to the face can cause it to become asymmetrical. Medical traumas like stroke, Bell’s palsy, and Torticollis can change the structure of the face. Bell’s palsy happens when nerves in the face become paralyzed. Consequently, the face will hang and droop. Torticollis, also known as weak neck (or wryneck), is an abnormal tilting of the head. It arises from neck muscles twisting beyond their natural limits.
Lifestyle and behavioral factors like smoking, too much sun exposure, and poor posture further impart asymmetry. People suffering from substance use disorders, especially those struggling with addiction to stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine, are highly susceptible to facial asymmetry.
Malocclusions and the Teeth
Consider the teeth. You might not think that a single tooth out of position could lead to facial asymmetry. In many cases, that might be true. Misaligned teeth can cause complications with your bite. You might hear Dr. Upton refer to problems like these as “malocclusions.” She will use this word to describe how your teeth set when your mouth is closed.
Some examples of malocclusion include:
- Open bite: when you close your mouth, your teeth remain open
- Crowded teeth: the teeth don’t have enough space between them, or don’t have room to erupt
- Overbite: the top teeth reach too far beneath the bottom teeth
- Underbite: when you close your mouth, the lower teeth sets in front of the upper teeth
- Crossbite: parts of the upper and lower teeth intersect and/or overlap
So, Teeth Can Cause Facial Asymmetry?
Improper bites can distort the bones and skin around the mouth and jaw. Consequently, someone with a bad bite might develop a “weak” or receding chin. Other asymmetries might include sunken cheeks or a double chin. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (sometimes referred to as “TMJ” or “lockjaw”), if left untreated, might lead to facial asymmetry as well.
How Does an Orthodontist Help?
Facial asymmetry isn’t just physically uncomfortable. It often causes people psychological distress. Those suffering from facial asymmetry are also likely afflicted by mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. They may express discouragement and a lack of self-confidence. It’s no secret that orthodontics can improve dental health and hygiene. But did you know that implements like braces can enhance a person’s mental health too? That’s right! Strengthening your smile can strengthen your mental well-being.
Options for Success
Demopolis and Tuscaloosa residents can consult Dr. Upton at Riverview Orthodontics for anything regarding facial asymmetry. After the doctor evaluates your circumstance, she will suggest one of the following possibilities.
Invisalign is likely the most convenient way to ease facial asymmetry. Instead of braces, Invisalign is a removable retainer. You can take it out as needed. It’s shaped specifically for your teeth. Better still, it’s clear! No one will know you’re wearing it unless you tell them. As another advantage, you can maintain your brushing and flossing habits.
As their name implies, these braces are transparent. They provide a discreet solution, without drawing as much attention as their metal variants. You might also hear Dr. Upton call these “ceramic,” “tooth-colored,” or “aesthetic.” They’re designed to blend in with your teeth, and thus conform to your special smile. To really make your clear braces pop, you might select some neon-colored ligature ties.
The old-school, original orthodontic appliance. Our team still uses them because they work. And they work well! If the doctor suggests metal braces, realize that you’re probably getting the fastest treatment option we offer. Yes, that’s correct. Metal braces tend to offer the shortest treatment time. Also, modern metal braces are much smaller and more comfortable than the metal braces of the past. Still not sold? How about this – metal braces might be the most budget-conscious choice too. You’ll likely find them more affordable than other choices.
Dr. Upton will fit you with a TAD (temporary anchorage device) in lieu of conventional headgear. Like its name suggests, the TADis designed to “anchor” your teeth while aiding their movement. Just like with braces, our team tailors your TAD to fit you. Both its application and removal happen in a flash.
Beam Like a Beacon At Riverview Orthodontics
If you’re local to either Tuscaloosa or Demopolis, Dr. Upton, and the Riverview Orthodontics team want to help you light up rooms with your smile. Click here to schedule your free consultation!