An uneven jaw can contribute to issues with eating, sleeping, talking, and breathing. There are a range of causes of an uneven jaw. Some cases can be treated and improved with physical therapy. Others may require corrective surgery.

Read on to learn more about uneven jaw causes, treatments, and more.

Symptoms of an uneven jaw are often similar to those of other conditions. They may include:

Jaw function requires tendons, bones, and muscles to work together. An imbalance in any of these structures can lead to the entire jaw becoming uneven.

There are several reasons why your jaw may be uneven, including:

Trauma or broken jaw

Trauma can occur during an accident, fall, assault, or a sports-related injury. Trauma can result in your jaw being broken, fractured, or dislocated.

A slight fracture will usually heal on its own. A major break in the jaw could require surgery to help the jaw heal properly. A dislocated jaw may need to be surgically stabilized.

TMJ disorders

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) are very common. Trauma or arthritis may be the cause of TMJ. Sometimes the symptoms can occur without an obvious cause, though.

You can treat TMJ by doing the following:

  • Apply ice to your jaw to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Avoid strenuous jaw movements.
  • Wear an orthopedic dental appliance to raise your bite and reposition the jaw.
  • Practice TMJ exercises to reduce pain and improve your jaw’s movement.
  • Manage and reduce stress to help relax your jaw.

Birth defects

You may have been born with a jaw condition. For example, you may have a naturally crooked jaw. This is also referred to as a “faulty jaw.” A faulty jaw may be corrected with surgery or can be managed with supportive care and lifestyle changes.

Teeth alignment

An uneven jaw may be due to teeth misalignment. Your teeth may not be allowing your jaw to settle in its correct position. Braces or retainers can help correct this. It may take a period of 6 to 18 months for results to show. In severe cases, it may take longer.

Correcting your jaw position sometimes requires surgery. The type of surgery chosen will depend on the underlying cause of your uneven jaw. Your doctor may choose:

  • Maxillary osteotomy. This is a surgery performed on the upper jaw to correct open bites or cross bites. The upper jaw and teeth are moved forward so they align with the lower jaw and teeth.
  • Mandibular osteotomy. This surgery corrects issues such as overbite and protruding lower jaw. Your surgeon cuts in the back of your mouth to move the lower jaw forward or backward.
  • Genioplasty. Genioplasty will fix a small or crooked chin. The jaw and chin are restructured by cutting the chin bone in the front of the jaw.
  • Jaw wiring. Jaw wiring is used to position the jaw in a certain place or provide support in the case of a fracture or break.

Braces or dental appliances can often treat an uneven jaw. More serious cases often need surgery.

If your jaw is causing you extreme pain, whether chronic or after an injury, see your doctor. They can assess the underlying cause of the pain and work with you to find relief.