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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.
There are several possible causes of buck teeth:
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
Clear aligners can save you thousands of dollars compared to braces. Learn about clear aligners.
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:
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:
We recommend at-home clear aligners if you have mild teeth misalignment. View our top recommendations.
Buck teeth are a common dental concern. If you do decide to treat them, there are several options:
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:
How long you need to wear braces depends on the severity of your teeth misalignment. Some people wear braces for a few years.
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
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.
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, 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.