croppedSpecialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest relating to dentistry and healthcare. 

A square jaw generally refers to the lower jaw or mandible with the jaw bone jutting out on the side. The lower jaw forms the lower third of our face and with more prominent bones at the side, this gives the appearance of a square face in combination with the upper and middle third of the face.

There are varying opinions about square jaw. Some individuals like it and enjoy the limelight that comes with it. Some individuals with square jaw hate it and desperately want to get rid of it.

Adam Levine, the frontman of Maroon 5, bears the title of People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2013 award. Dr Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University pointed out that Adam Levine has “stereotypically masculine features”, including a square jaw, high cheekbones and thin lips, which both men and women are drawn to. She also felt that men with masculine features and higher testosterone levels tend to have a better immune system and stronger sex drive. This piece of information is interesting and new to me!

While lower square jaws are often considered a positive trait in men, a wide lower jaw in women can distort the natural appearance of the angle between the chin and the neck, and cause significant facial discordance and/or masculinization of the female face.

That being said, there are also females who are confident of their strong facial structure;  Angelina Jolie is one such popular personality who exhibits this strong facial feature and is still regarded as the sexiest woman in Hollywood.

However, before you come to a conclusion and decide what to do with your square jaw, you have to understand that the overall pleasing appearance of a face is not only dependent upon the lower third of the face; the middle thirds and upper thirds are equally important. Besides these facial thirds, other facial features like the hair, eyes, nose, ears and lips all add up to the facial appearance. Last but not least, personal grooming as well as how a person carries himself or herself completes the entire facial outlook.

As mentioned earlier, a square jaw is due to “excess” bone jutting out at the sides of the lower jaw. However, a square jaw appearance may also be contributed by increased thickening or mass (volume) of the masseter muscles. These are muscles wrapped around the side of the lower jaw and help in the opening and closing of the lower jaw when they relax or contract. In general, individuals with square jaws have both excess bone and increased muscle mass. A proper assessement will need to be carried out to determine if bone or muscle is the higher contributory factor to the square jaw.

Treatment of square jaw can be surgical or non-surgical. In certain situations, both surgical and non-surgical management may be required. Surgical treatment will involve removing the excess bone and/or muscles. Non-surgical treatment will involve shrinking or reducing the muscle mass or volume via injection of neuromuscular toxins (commonly known as botox) directly into the masseter muscles. Repeat treatment may be required for non-surgical management as the results are not permanent.

Society tries to place many boundaries on individuals as to what is acceptable and what is not. We must decide for ourselves whether to conform to such a social constraint. We are taught as soon as we are old enough to grasp the idea that it is bad to be unique and to avoid being different. Our strength as a person is proven through what we decide. End of it all, a square jaw may not be that bad. But if it bothers you enough, go ahead and do something about it.

Dr Ho Kok Sen

Dr Ho Kok Sen is an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon with Specialist Dental Group® specializing in dental implant surgery, wisdom tooth surgery, jaw surgery and bone grafting. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and also a lecturer in the Graduate Diploma in Dental Implantology program at NUS.  For more information, visit www.specialistdentalgroup.com.

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