toddler with buck teeth smiling

What Causes Buck Teeth?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

What causes buck teeth? As a parent, is there anything you can do to help prevent your child from developing them? Gum disease, affected chewing and speech, jaw problems and even tooth loss may result from an overbite.

Protruding front teeth are usually a result of malocclusion (also known as an overbite), which can be naturally occurring or it may be caused by thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, according to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), or bone loss from gum disease. Identifying the reason for the overbite will enable you to prevent it from worsening, and help to reduce the progression of the condition.

Buck Teeth Causes

Tongue Thrusting

The AAPD describes tongue thrusting as "an abnormal tongue position and deviation from the normal swallowing pattern." If the tongue is thrust against the teeth for short spurts at a time it probably won't affect the teeth's positioning. However, if the tongue consistently rests against the front teeth, the habit may result in an open bite or protruding incisors.

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is another cause of buck teeth, says the American Dental Association. The force of the sucking may affect the mouth, teeth and palate alignment. Sometimes children grow out of the habit around the age of 2 to 4 years old. If they don't, parents may be able to deter the behavior. For example, parents can praise their little one if they go awhile without sucking. Thumb sucking may also be a response to anxiety, so parents can try their best to soothe their child to eliminate the child's need to put their thumb in their mouth.

Natural Alignment

Sometimes, protruding teeth happen naturally and that's what causes buck teeth. An overbite may be hereditary. In this case, there's nothing parents can do to prevent buck teeth. But what they can do is schedule a visit with an orthodontist if it looks like your child's jaw and permanent teeth are crooked. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that kids visit the orthodontist by the time they're 7 years old. An orthodontist will most likely be able to determine what your child's bite will look like. After this first consultation appointment, the orthodontist can formulate a treatment plan to correct the bite and get ready for braces that would be applied between age 8 and 14.

Maintain Great Oral Hygiene

No matter someone's age or bite, great oral care habits are essential. It's best to start a great oral hygiene routine at a young age. Brushing twice daily with a toothpaste that's extra gentle on tooth enamel and fights cavities with clinically proven fluoride formula for kids is a great place to start.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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