A receding chin is also known as retrogenia or a weak chin. Instead of jutting out or lying flat, a receding chin slopes back toward the neck. It happens when the lower jaw – or mandible – is out of alignment with the upper jaw. It’s most often a cosmetic issue, but it can be related to more serious health concerns.
What Causes a Receding Chin?
Some people are born with a receding chin, and children often grow out of it as their bones grow. But other people develop a weak chin over time. A pronounced overbite may lead to a weak chin and a weak jawline. Age might, too. Over time, your jawline tends to become less pronounced and may even start to recede.
A receding chin can also happen as part of a condition that’s present from birth (called congenital). These things can be dangerous if they affect the ability to breathe or eat. Examples include:
To avoid malnutrition, it’s sometimes enough to adjust the child’s posture while they eat, lying them on their stomach and putting a pillow under their chest. Headgear may also help correct the alignment of the jaw.
More serious cases, such as those involving Treacher Collins syndrome, may need surgery.
Chin Surgery or Implants
Your receding chin may be a cosmetic issue, or it may be related to a jaw disorder that affects your speech, breathing, and chewing. None of these treatments should be done until you have reached physical maturity and the bones are done growing.
Chin surgery. This is also known as mentoplasty or genioplasty. There are two main kinds, and they’re both cosmetic procedures done by plastic surgeons.
- Chin implants (alloplastic genioplasty). The doctor makes a cut on the inside of the mouth, where the lower lip meets the gum, or on the face just under the chin. They stretch the tissue enough to place a synthetic implant. Chin implants are available in various shapes and sizes. This procedure also needs less recovery time than other kinds of chin surgery.
- Horizontal sliding genioplasty. The doctor cuts into the bony part of the chin and slides the segment forward in order to make a more pronounced chin. This method may let the doctor combine advancing – horizontally sliding – the chin with lengthening the chin. It may be a good option for people who have a chin that is both short and recessed.
Jaw surgery. Jaw surgery may be done along with chin surgery or separately. You might have it if the receding chin is linked to significant health concerns such as:
- Sleep apnea
- Trouble swallowing
- Speech impediment
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ, TMD)
- Trouble chewing
- Difficulty closing the lips or jaw
- Difficulty breathing
You may need upper jaw surgery (maxillary osteotomy), lower jaw surgery (mandibular osteotomy), or both. These procedures require the surgeon to separate the jaw, move it, and fasten it in place while it heals.
Other Treatment Options for a Weak Chin
Treatment depends on the cause of the receding chin. Some websites advertise exercises or over-the-counter remedies for a weak chin, but they don’t work.
However, if your receding chin is linked to orthodontic issues, such as an open bite or overbite, you may be able to treat it with a retainer or braces.
Your orthodontist will have to determine whether the issue is dental, originating in your teeth, or whether it's skeletal, originating in your bones. If the issue is dental, it can probably be fixed with orthodontics. Skeletal issues will probably require orthodontics in combination with surgery.