Tales of Woe

braces gone bad

Sunken Face, Bad Bite from Extractions
by Christine in New York

My treatment turned out disastrous because the orthodontist pulled too many teeth and now my mouth is too small. I bite the outside of my tongue when I chew, and my face has collapsed.

I believe the reason this happened is because I chose a very formulaic orthodontist who followed a treatment plan instead of treating me like an individual.

Be very very careful of tooth extraction and lobby hard for one tooth vs. two teeth. Better yet, ask your ortho if they can do the procedure in where they shave bulk off adjoining teeth instead of extractions. It's a newer process, but I have heard it works very well. Also, explore cosmetic fixes thoroughly before you go into braces. Many problems can be solved that way.

Also, do not believe your ortho if they tell you that your face will not change. Everyone I talked to who had braces told me that in fact their face did change, especially their smile, and not always for the better due to the relationship between the teeth and the muscles of the face. Smiles are about more than teeth.


I agree with Christine, and I'm sorry to hear that she had such an unfortunate outcome. Braces can change the way your face looks (usually for the better). But when it comes to extractions, you must be careful. Your facial aesthetics must be carefully taken into consideration when you are extracting or having any type of jaw surgery. Christine is right -- smiles are about more than just teeth. Your teeth are part of the infrastructure that supports your facial tissues.

I have heard many stories about "sunken faces" after extractions. It is best to always get several opinions before proceeding with any irreversible procedure. Sometimes extraction is the only way to correct a problem, and it does not always result in a sunken face or bad facial aesthetics. But those outcomes can be possibilities when you are changing the underlying structure of your face. In many cases, other methods can be explored first.

Regarding children: As I state in our web page about extractions, you should get several opinions before extracting teeth in children. Their faces are still growing, and aggressive extraction can cause their faces to grow "flatter" than normal.

-Lynn S., Editor ArchWired.com

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