What to do about teeth that stick out?


Correcting sticking out teeth is something we do a lot of in orthodontics. It is one of the commonest reasons that people come to see us.

And it’s easy to see why.

Confidence building

Many people don’t like the look. For young children having “sticky out teeth”  can cause name-calling ( studies have shown that dental appearance is a common cause of teasing ID-100107906and bullying at school).

Providing treatment in these situations is important from a “psychosociological” point of view. We all want our children to have confidence as they grow into their teenage years and to interact with their peers in a positive way.

And often adults feel the same. It is quite common for people in their 20s, 30s…even 60s!…to have missed the boat when they were younger but have eventually gotten around to seeing an orthodontist for treatment about their prominent teeth ( and we all know the celebs who could probably could do with a referral!).

 Keep your smile in a safe place

Protruding teeth tend to get damaged more….so pulling them back with braces keeps them safer.

The measurement that orthodontists make is called the “overjet”: this is the horizontal distance between your lower and upper front teeth in millimetres.

If your measurement is 6mm or less the teeth are probably in a safe enough position (although accidents can still happen!) and they probably don’t look too prominent either.

If your overjet is more than this research suggests that you are more likely to damage your teeth on the rugby field, on the playground concrete, on the edge of the swimming pool…or quite possibly all the above! You are twice as likely to damage your teeth if your overjet is 9mm or more.

How can we fix it?

There a few ways that orthodontists can correct teeth that stick out. And which we choose depends on how old you are and how far forward your teeth are.

Twin Block braces

These are removable plastic braces that used for young children…they don’t work so well for adults. They are a type of “functional” brace…and there are many other varieties.

Twin Blocks

Twin Blocks

Twin Blocks are the most commonly used functional brace in the UK.

As the name suggests, they are actually two braces worn together…one for the upper, one for the lower. If they are worn well ( and that means 24/7) they are fantastic at pulling teeth back.

We particularly like to use these if the teeth are sticking forwards a long way…say 8mm and over.

Usually worn for 9-12 months, they work by simultaneously pulling back on the upper teeth and forwards on the lower teeth. They may encourage your lower jaw to grow forwards a little more which also helps.

Most people then move onto fixed braces…to get that perfect result!

They don’t always work though. Older teenagers may not respond as well to the treatment…and they certainly won’t work if they are not worn full time. In which case it may be the best thing to move onto fixed braces.

 Fixed braces

For older teenagers and adults, it may be better to start straight away with a fixed brace…usually worn for 12-18 months.

This may also be better approach if your teeth are sticking out only little way…say between 6 and 8mm.

Fixed braces are available in metal, white or a combination of the two.

Fixed metal braces

Fixed metal braces

If you qualify for treatment under the NHS we use metal braces with colours.

The main question is…would you need teeth taken out?

If you already have gaps between your teeth, maybe not. The braces can pull the front teeth gently backwards, closing up the gaps as we go.

If you don’t have gaps, we need to create them….by having upper teeth taken out, usually one each side. We can then pull your teeth gently backwards into the spaces. We will try to close all the spaces up so that you are not left with gaps at the end.

Other options

Some people’s teeth stick out a long way indeed…in which case we have to take a slightly different approach. Either we can plan to pull the teeth back part of the way to make them look a lot nicer but not totally “perfect”.

Or rarely we can consider a combination of braces and jaw surgery. Needless to say, most people do not want to go through that so the first option is usually the one we go for.

Some orthodontists use functional braces for adults too which are fixed onto the teeth during the treatment.

So in summary….

There are a number of reasons to correct teeth that stick out…and there are a number of options open to us. Orthodontists have the specialist training to be able to plan the best treatment for you so that we can make your smile better and keep your teeth safer.

Your dentist will advise you on when your child may need a referral to an orthodontic specialist.

For more information:

British Orthodontic Society

Kidscape : preventing bullying, protecting children

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees , Billingham and Redcar.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available…you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.


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