8 Keys to Lower Facial Harmony & Proper Bite


8 Keys to Lower Facial Harmony & Proper Bite
Posted on 30. Jun, 2010 by Aurora Orthodontics & TMJ in Blog

Key # 1 Upper Jaw (Maxilla)

The upper jaw holds the key in many ways to facial beauty and proper function of the lower face and teeth. It should be wide and full to accommodate all normal 14 teeth in proper alignment, provide proper lip support and when the patient is giving a full smile not expose ‘dark triangles’ between the teeth and the cheeks or show an excessively ‘gummy’ smile.

Key # 2 Nasal Passageway

The ability to properly breath (without obstruction) through their nose is critical in many ways to a person’s health and vitality. Obstructions for whatever reason need be evaluated and eliminated. Without elimination of the obstruction, mouth breathing can result and lead to many unnecessary problems including poor facial and dental development.

Key # 3 Lower Jaw (Mandible)

The lower jaw should be in balance with the upper jaw. The most common imbalance is retrusion of the lower jaw created by a trapping of it by an overbite or a narrow upper jaw. With balance, teeth can be positioned ideally and facial harmony can be established.

Key # 4 TMJ Function

The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint on each side of the face in front of the ears. It is used for speaking and eating and is the most complex joint in the human body. The TMJ’s becomes dysfunctional when they become strained because the positions of the teeth are forcing the lower jaw out of alignment and into a pathologic position. The TMJ’s are the cornerstone of a proper bite and must be corrected if dysfunctional. If not, a myriad of symptoms, such as headaches, facial pain, clicking jaw joints and problems with the eyes and ears will appear and worsen over time.

Key # 5 Head Posture

Proper head posture is very important concerning a person’s neck and back health. Teeth and jaw positions profoundly influence head posture. If proper balance is achieved with the first four keys above, then head posture can be positively influenced. Further care from a neck and back doctor or therapist also can be made much more effective.

Key # 6 Elimination of Adverse Habits

Youthful habits such as thumb or finger sucking, nail or pencil biting or anything putting adverse pressures in the mouth need to be eliminated. These can not only lead to adverse tooth movements requiring orthodontic treatment, but can have other health consequences.

Key # 7 Avoidance of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious medical problem affecting as much as 20% of the population. It can lead to heart disease and even to premature death do to strokes, heart attacks or choking in the night. OSA is a cutting off of airflow while a person is sleeping. This causes a person to stop breathing during an Apnea event. The most common reason for OSA is for the lower jaw to be too far back (retruded). Another common contributor to this problem is a narrow upper jaw. By properly following the first 6 Keys listed, in all likelihood OSA can be avoided.

Key # 8 Proper teeth positioning

Crowding or spacing of front teeth is the most obvious that untrained eye can easily see. However, for the trained orthodontist or dentist, problems that are less obvious also need to be addressed. These can be things like crossbites, overbites, underbites, in addition to the crowding or spacing previously mentioned. Proper positioning of the teeth and jaws, through orthodontic/orthopedic treatment, if necessary, can assure that the first 7 keys are achieved and maintained. Decades ago Andrew’s 6 Keys to Normal Occlusion” established a guideline for dental specialists to use regarding this key.

Dr. Kent Lauson


Article by
Denver Orthodontist