What exactly is an underbite? Well, an underbite is misalignment when the bottom teeth and lower jaw extend beyond the top jaw. This misalignment affects 5-10% of the global population and it’s not specific to any specific age group.
Underbite is usually described with the following symptoms:
- Visible protrusion of the lower jaw beyond the upper jaw
- Speech difficulties
- Teeth grinding
- Sleep disruption
- Mouth pain
In some cases, (moderate to severe) the face can have a bulldog-like look because of the protrusion. Underbite is not only a cosmetic concern, but it can also heave negative impact on your dental health. If left untreated, it can cause serious problems. So correcting it promptly is important.
What can cause underbite?
Aside from the genetic factors, underbite can be caused by various other reasons:
- The upper jaw is aligned too far forward
- The lower jaw is aligned too far back
- Upper teeth are tilted backwards, while lower teeth are tilted forward
- Overuse of pacifiers at a young age, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting
- Improperly healed broken jaw
- Inherited conditions
Nowadays, underbite can be easily spotted usually at a younger age. If you or your child experiences any of the symptoms described above, contact your dentist and schedule a consultation.
Based on the symptoms, the dentist will determine the level of severity of the malocclusion.
People that suffer from underbite have several treatment options at their disposal. The cost of treatment will greatly vary, depending on your insurance. The necessity of the procedure i.e. whether it’s only a cosmetic procedure or a real necessity, will in the end determine who much of the procedure will the insurance cover.
The treatment for underbite, mainly depends on what is the CAUSE of the underbite. For example, if your lower teeth are only ahead of the upper teeth, then this issue will be resolved by wearing braces or Invisalign. But if the undertbite is caused by a skeletal issue (maybe your lower jaw is ‘longer’ than the upper jaw) surgery will be the only option. But what other options are there?
Well we mentioned braces or Invisalign which are used in the mildest forms of underbite when only the upper and lower teeth need to be ‘put in place’. This option is extremely effective with children since their teeth didn’t fully form.
Undertbite can also be caused by overcrowding in the mouth. If your underbite is caused by this, tooth extraction can be the solution. By extracting a few upper or lower teeth, the excess pressure created by ‘overcrowding’ will subside, the jaw will relax and should return to its natural position. In some cases, tooth extraction will do the trick. But others, might require you to wear braces as well.
When your teeth are not able to fit in the mouth properly, that can also cause underbite. In cases like this, dentist will mostly recommend that they reshape your teeth. Dentists will ‘shave down’ your lower teeth, reshape them and veneers will be fitted on your upper teeth.
For sever cases of underbite, where the cause is not only the misalignment of the upper / lower teeth, surgery will be required. Surgeries like this aim to realign the position of your upper and lower jaws and thus create proper bite patterns.
So there you have it. You now know what underbite is, what causes it, what are the symptoms and how it can be corrected. If you suspect that your child might develop underbite, contact us today and schedule an appointment. It’s best to tackle these issues as soon as possible.