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Updated on July 18, 2022

Buck Teeth

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What are Buck Teeth (Protruding Teeth)?

Buck teeth, medically known as protruding teeth, are top front teeth that stick out over the lower teeth. They refer to a type of malocclusion.

Some people choose to live with their protruding teeth without treatment. Other people decide to fix them for cosmetic reasons. For some, treatment is necessary to prevent damage to other teeth and oral health complications.

close up of young girls smile

Clear aligners can save you thousands of dollars compared to braces. Learn about clear aligners.

6 Possible Causes of Buck (Protruding) Teeth

There are several possible causes of buck teeth:

1. Thumb sucking or pacifier use as a child

Childhood habits like sucking on your thumb or using a pacifier can cause buck teeth. This is especially true for children who do not outgrow the habit by ages 2 to 4.6

2. Extra or Missing Teeth 

Having extra teeth can overcrowd the mouth. When overcrowding happens, it might force some teeth to stick out, making them look bucked.

Missing teeth can also be a cause of protruding teeth. If you have missing teeth, other teeth shift out of place. When the alignment of your teeth changes in any way, it can result in protruding teeth.

3. Tongue Thrusting

Tongue thrusting can also cause damage to your teeth.

Tongue thrusting refers to the habit of pressing your tongue against your upper and lower teeth when you swallow.

If you do this for a short time while drinking or eating, it shouldn’t change the position of your teeth. But if your tongue is always pushing on your teeth, it can cause buck (protruding) teeth.6

4. Tumors or Cysts

Whether malignant or benign, tumors can cause complications. Cysts in the mouth can also change the appearance of your smile.

A tumor or cyst that sits close to your teeth could push them forward.

5. Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can happen as a result of poor oral hygiene. If the gums become inflamed and infected, you can develop periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease happens in stages:

  1. Gingivitis — the gum tissue becomes red and inflamed.
  2. Initial periodontitis — the gum tissue is inflamed and the jaw bone becomes infected.
  3. Mild periodontitis — the gum tissue and jaw bone are both infected, and the teeth may become loose.
  4. Progressive periodontitis — this is the final stage of gum disease. Both the tissue and bone are infected, and chewing may feel painful. You experience bone loss, which could lead to tooth loss.

When gum disease reaches the final stages, loose teeth can change position. If they do, they may jet out, giving the appearance of buck teeth. 

6. Genetics

Teeth alignment can also be connected to genetics. Protruding teeth may be hereditary. Overbites and underbites, as well as many other dental abnormalities, can be passed down over generations.6

Health Concerns of Buck Teeth

Not all buck or protruding teeth pose a problem for people. If the upper front teeth only protrude slightly, they may not be a cause for concern.

However, some severe cases (and even moderate cases) of buck teeth can lead to health concerns down the line.

Not only can protruding teeth cause someone to feel self-conscious, but they can also cause the following problems:

  • Accidental tongue biting
  • Crowding of the upper teeth
  • General mouth and jaw pain
  • Difficulty cleaning the teeth
  • Speech impediment

We recommend at-home clear aligners if you have mild teeth misalignment. View our top recommendations.

Should You Fix Buck Teeth?

Some people opt to keep their buck teeth. Their teeth may not cause them any complications.

Other people do not like the look of buck teeth, or they may experience oral health issues.

Deciding whether or not to fix your buck teeth depends on your:

  • Aesthetic preferences
  • The severity of your buck teeth
  • Access to dental care
  • Budget
  • Dental insurance coverage

Treating Buck Teeth 

Buck teeth are a common dental concern. If you do decide to treat them, there are several options:

Braces

Braces straighten teeth, included protruding, or buck, teeth. They include a string of brackets and wires that attach to the teeth. Over time, they slowly shift them into the correct positions.3

There are several different types of braces:

  • Metal braces
  • Ceramic braces (clear for cosmetic purposes)
  • Lingual braces (with the brackets on the inside)

How long you need to wear braces depends on the severity of your teeth misalignment. Some people wear braces for a few years. 

Aligners

Aligners work like braces by straightening the teeth over time. They are clear, plastic aligners that fit over your teeth like retainers. 

For aligners to work, you need to wear them for about 20 to 22 hours a day for the entire treatment period.2

As your teeth shift, you will need new aligners. Invisalign is a popular aligner brand.2

Expanders 

Palate expanders are one way to help prevent and fix buck teeth in children. They’re custom-made orthodontic devices that create more space in a child’s mouth.

A palate expander widens the upper jaw over time.4 Children typically wear palate expanders for 3 to 6 months.

Back Tooth Extractions

A tooth extraction may be necessary to prevent or treat buck teeth. If there is overcrowding in the mouth, removing some teeth can help.

Dental health professionals may extract the back teeth if there is little space. For example, wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are not always necessary.5

Wisdom tooth removal surgery is common. Most people have their wisdom teeth removed in their late teens or early 20s.

Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, can also treat buck teeth. If you have any irregularities in your jaw misalignment, surgery may be able to correct it.1

Typically, jaw surgery is the last option. Doctors will first try to treat buck teeth and other dental concerns with non-surgical orthodontic treatments.

Not everyone is a good candidate for jaw surgery. It’s necessary to wait for your jaw to stop growing before surgery becomes a viable option. For females, this is around ages 14 to 16. For males, it’s around ages 17 to 21.

If you have buck teeth, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about what treatment option is best for you.

What’s Next?

The most popular at-home clear aligner kits can be found right here:

Learn about the different brands and what they offer.

6 Sources Cited
Last updated on July 18, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Jaw Surgery.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Jan. 2018.
  2. Join the 12 Million Smiles.” Invisalign Treatment | Invisalign Clear Aligners.
  3. Organization. “Types of Braces.” Oral, Oral-B.com.
  4. Palatal Expanders.” Orthodontic Associates | Bloomington IL.
  5. Tooth Extractions: What You Need to Know: Colgate®.” Tooth Extractions: What You Need To Know | Colgate®.
  6. What Causes Buck Teeth?Colgate®: Toothpaste, Toothbrushes & Oral Care Resources
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