5 Causes of Protruding Teeth

Did you know that there are certain things that can cause your child’s teeth to protrude? Protruding teeth, also sometimes called “buck teeth”, occur when your child has an overbite along with teeth that angle forwards out of the mouth. An overbite is when the top jaw extends significantly farther forward than the bottom jaw. Unfortunately, a study by the University of Adelaide in Australia found that children with protruding teeth are more likely to undergo dental trauma, damage to the gums, and problems with eating, breathing, and speaking. 

For these reasons, many pediatric dentists recommend treating protruding teeth with orthodontics. Depending on the severity of the overbite, your child may need to start early orthodontic treatment or they may be able to wait until they are older before starting treatment. In some cases, you may even be able to “treat” protruding teeth by preventing them or decreasing their severity. This is because there are different causes of protruding teeth that you may be able to manage. These include: 

Genetics

Some families simply have a genetic predisposition to overbites and protruding teeth. In these cases, you will likely notice similar overbites in yourself or other close family members. When genetics are the primary cause of an overbite, there is not always much prevention that can be done. However, you may be able to decrease the severity of an overbite by avoiding the other behaviors that have been known to cause overbites or make them worse. 

Tongue Thrust

This is a condition that occurs as a result of poor swallowing habits, swollen adenoids or tonsils, allergies, or tongue-tie. In children with tongue thrust, the tongue sits too far forward in the mouth and places additional pressure on the back side of the front, upper teeth when swallowing. While tongue thrust is primarily associated with causing open bites to form, some cases have also been known to cause overbites. Depending on the cause of tongue thrust, there are a variety of treatments that can be used to encourage your child to swallow properly.

Finger Sucking

young boy sucking his thumb

Sucking on one’s fingers is a self-soothing behavior used by infants. While finger sucking does not usually cause damage during a child’s younger years, it can be detrimental to their facial development if it continues beyond the age of 3 or 4. Specifically, finger sucking places pressure on the upper jaw, as well as the erupting teeth, causing them to extend forward out of the mouth. In some cases, this even causes the teeth to erupt at an angle, rather than straight. 

Sucking on a Pacifier 

Just as finger sucking exerts pressure on the upper jaw and erupting teeth, so does sucking on a pacifier. However, the Journal of the American Dental Association states that children who suck on a pacifier are even more likely to develop an overbite compared to those who suck their fingers. Just as with finger sucking, sucking on a pacifier should not continue beyond the age of 3 or 4 to prevent the development of an overbite. 

Too Many or Too Few Teeth

Having too many or too few teeth is another possible cause of an overbite, however this is not always easy to control. If your child has too many teeth, then this causes overcrowding. Because there is not enough space, overcrowded teeth tend to push each other forward to create more space. Overcrowded teeth can also become partially or fully impacted in the jaw, meaning they are unable to erupt. Conversely, having too few teeth can cause your child’s existing teeth to shift sideways into the gaps. Unfortunately, shifting teeth work like dominos and can change the entire alignment of your child’s bite. In cases where your child has too many or too few teeth, your child’s pediatric dentist can usually advise you on how to proceed to decrease the risk of an overbite. 

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