Do Braces Change Your Face Shape? What You Need to Know

Do Braces Change Your Face Shape? What You Need to Know
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Do Braces Change Your Face Shape? What You Need to KnowClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Braces & Facial Structure
  2. Periodontal Ligament
  3. Age, Braces & Changing Face Shape
  4. Braces & Face Shape FAQs
  5. References
Braces can change the shape of your face due to the major orthodontic issues that they are used for, such as malocclusion, when the upper and lower teeth don’t align as you close your mouth.

Braces & Facial Structure

In the process of addressing an underbite, an overbite, or an open bite, the braces can apply pressure on your oral structures that, over time, lead to small to moderate changes in your facial structure.1

If you have an underbite, for example, your lower jaw protrudes ahead of your front teeth, so your bottom teeth are in front of your top teeth. After braces correct this imbalance, you will notice that your lower jaw is properly aligned with the rest of your face. People who have gotten braces for underbites note that their facial structure looks and feels more natural after braces.

An overbite is functionally the opposite of an underbite in that the upper jaw protrudes ahead of the lower jaw, giving a sunken appearance to the cheeks. As with an underbite, braces not only help reform the jaw so it is more in line with the lower jaw, but they also help create a more symmetrical facial balance. Overbites can weaken the chin and jawlines, and as braces help the arches come together correctly, they also strengthen the chin and jaw.

An open bite is a situation where the teeth cannot come together when the mouth is closed. Braces can easily address an open bite by pulling the teeth together so they are more vertically aligned. This means that your mouth can close properly and fully (like when you want to smile), which it cannot do if an open bite is left untreated.

Periodontal Ligament

Braces change the shape of your face due to how your face reacts to the work of the braces. They work by applying pressure to the periodontal ligament, which is the fibrous connective tissue structure that attaches your teeth to the respective surrounding bones.2

What we refer to as braces actually consists of wires, brackets, and bands. As they apply constant (but light) pressure to your teeth, your body responds by producing cells that either grow or destroy the bones attached to the teeth, depending on the orientation of the braces to push or pull the teeth in the desired direction.

With the production of these cells, the bones in your face are gradually remodeled, which changes the shape of your face.3

Your orthodontist will closely monitor and tweak the pressure levels that the braces are applying to your teeth.

The goal is to fix whatever dental concerns the braces were installed to treat and also to make sure that any changes to your facial structure are ultimately beneficial. Such tweaks to the pressure levels exerted by the braces can include the addition or removal of bands, or changing the wires in your braces.

However your orthodontist does it, the pressure applied to the periodontal ligaments for the duration of the treatment affects the development of your jaw. This, in turn, will change the symmetry of your face. These changes are often taken into consideration when your orthodontist is mapping out your treatment plan since they will know that whatever happens with the braces on your teeth will also impact your overall facial structure.

Age, Braces & Changing Face Shape

One of the factors that determine how much braces will reshape your face is your age. In the case of growing children and adolescents, the teeth, gums, jaw bones, chins, and dental muscles are more flexible and likely to change because of how much the body is overall growing and developing at that age.

The younger the patient, the greater the impact braces will have on changing the shape of their face. This is why orthodontic treatment is typically recommended for preteens and teenagers.

For older patients, braces will still move teeth into their desired positions, but the overall process will be slower, and any changes to the shape of the face will not be as noticeable. However, some older patients may note that with the new jaw alignment brought about by their braces, the skin under their chins appears tighter. This can, in turn, soften the appearance of wrinkles and give the whole face a younger look.

Aligners do not cause changes that are as pronounced or noticeable as those of orthodontic braces, primarily because aligners are designed to correct only mild to moderate bite problems. If your orthodontist prescribes aligners, you might notice that there is a slight change in the shape of your mouth, especially if your lips were being forced outward because of the degree of protrusion of your teeth.

But overall, any changes that aligners cause to the shape of your face will be subtle.

Braces & Face Shape FAQs

Can braces change your face shape?
Yes, braces can change your jawline, your chin, the shape of your mouth, and even your lips. However, these effects are secondary to the actual reforming of your teeth and bite. Braces can tighten your jawline and your teeth, but this happens over time and imperceptibly.
Do braces change your cheekbones?

It’s possible. Braces can fix spacing and overbite problems. For example, when the upper teeth are positioned more forward or backward than they should be, the cheekbones can look sunken.

Braces can shift the upper jaw to a better position and reintroduce symmetry by closing uneven spacings between the teeth. This can improve the definition of your cheekbones.

Will braces make me look younger?
They can to a degree. Depending on the type of braces being used and for what purpose, the work of the braces can smooth wrinkles and make your chin skin tighter, which can make your face look younger. However, this should not be the primary reason you get braces.
Will braces make my face look worse?

This is very unlikely. Your orthodontist will know what changes the braces they are prescribing for you will have on your face, and they will not give you braces that will cause asymmetrical changes to your face.

Braces aren’t just prescribed to correct your malocclusion. They are also prescribed with an eye on the overall impact they will have on your face. It is very unlikely that you will get braces that make your face look worse.

Will braces change the shape of my nose?
Not exactly. When you get braces that reposition your upper teeth, this changes the shape of your jawbone, which in turn changes the space between your nose and your upper lip. This can make your nose look more proportional to the rest of your face, but braces cannot (and will not) change how your nose actually looks.

General References

Frequently Asked Questions. American Association of Orthodontists. Date fetched: May 21, 2022.

Are You Too Old for Braces? Harvard Medical School. Date fetched: May 21, 2022.

Medical References

1 Thickness Change of Masseter Muscles and the Surrounding Soft Tissues in Female Patients During Orthodontic Treatment: A Retrospective Study. BMC Oral Health. Date fetched: May 21, 2022. 

2 Review of Common Conditions Associated With Periodontal Ligament Widening. Imaging Science in Dentistry. Date fetched: May 21, 2022.

3 Cellular Response Within the Periodontal Ligament on Application of Orthodontic Forces. Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology. Date fetched: May 21, 2022.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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