A dento-facial deformity is an imbalance of the position, size, shape, or orientation of the bones that comprise the upper and lower jaws. Dento-facial deformities that require surgery exist in about 2% of the population.

Dento-facial deformities are common in general population, ranging from mild abnormalities of the teeth and jaw to significant facial deformities associated with syndromes of the face and skull.

Please contact us if you are concerned about your own appearance or are referred by your dentist because of concerns regarding your occlusion or bite.

Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of dento-facial abnormalities are varied and not completely known. Some dentofacial deformities, such as mandibular prognathism (the lower jaw outgrows the upper jaw resulting in an underbite and prominent chin), may be inherited.

Apert syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, and many other genetic conditions have distinctive dentofacial deformities. Cleft lip and palate and craniofacial microsomia are examples of non-genetic congenital dentofacial deformities. Trauma to the facial skeleton can also lead to dento-facial deformities. Habits like digit sucking and mouth breathing can contribute to dento-facial deformities.


Symptoms of dento-facial deformities may include the inability to chew properly, impaired breathing (which may lead to sleep apnea), temporomandibular joint pain, speech impediments and psychosocial challenges resulting from facial imbalance.

Treatment and Care

Correction of a dento-facial deformity is a complex task requiring expertise.

Every patient’s specific treatment is individual but most treatment plans to correct a dento-facial deformity include comprehensive orthodontic treatment and corrective jaw surgery.

Common Deformities

The spectrum of dento-facial deformities is wide and includes:

  • An overbite, also known as excessive overjet or a Class II malocclusion. This condition is caused by excessive maxillary growth (where the upper jaw grows too much) or deficient mandibular growth (where the lower jaw has not grown enough)
  • An underbite, also known as a negative overjet or a Class III malocclusion. This condition is caused by deficient maxillary growth or excessive mandibular growth
  • An open bite, a gap in between the upper and lower teeth
  • Facial asymmetries or occlusal cants (also known as a crooked smile)
  • Excessive vertical growth of the upper jaw (vertical maxillary excess) leading to too much gum exposure, especially when smiling