Study: Aging Jaw May Crowd Teeth

If you're considering major dental work addressing your bite, you may want to be mindful that the size of your jaw decreases with age, or so says a new study that examined the effects of aging on the human jaw over a period of 40 years.

Researchers in Sweden examined plaster jaw molds of dental students made in 1949 when the students were in their 20s, and then again in 1959, and 1989 of updated molds.

“We found that over these 40 years there was less and less room for teeth in the jaw,” says Lars Bondemark, professor of orthodontics, who analyzed the material together with his colleague Maria Nilner, professor of clinical bite physiology at the College of Dentistry, Malmö University. Although it is only a matter of a few millimeters, because the jaw shrinks both in length and width, the front teeth can become crowded. The actual shrinkage varies among patients, but for some, it is significant enough for them to notice that their bite is changing.

At this time, it is unknown why the jaw changes with age, but the researchers suspect that it is probably determined by hereditary and anatomical factors. However, this study should prove interesting to dentists who need to consider the shrinkage of jaws when they plan major dental work on a patient's bite.