Underbite is a non-medical term for the dental condition of the lower teeth projecting beyond the upper teeth. The clinical name for underbite is prognathism. It is considered a bad bite or malocclusion and has several levels of severity. The least severe is mild and means the upper and lower teeth almost meet. Severe underbite means the teeth do not meet at all and overlap. The facial expression of someone with underbite often looks aggressive when it is not the case. It is, therefore, an issue that many people want to correct permanently with braces.
The most common cause of underbite is the misalignment of the lower jaw. This is often present at birth, but may also be caused by a hereditary condition. If the underbite gap is wide, it may cause certain problems. Generally speaking, correcting an underbite with braces may be necessary when there is:
• Difficulty chewing and eating
• Difficulty speaking clearly
• Chronic jaw pain such as TMJ as well as earaches and headaches
• Tooth decay because of the uneven wear of tooth enamel
• Chronic breathing through the mouth that may cause bacterial infections and halitosis
• Snoring, sleep apnea and other difficulties breathing at night
Underbite is especially difficult for children because they may be teased about their appearance. This is why it is recommended to get orthodontic help as soon as possible, while the jaw is still developing. There are several methods for correcting underbite such as jaw surgery and a range of orthodontic appliances. During a consultation with our orthodontist, you child’s jaw and teeth may be examined and the right treatment recommended. It is more likely that braces may be the best option for younger children.
The two most common orthodontic appliances that we may recommend are an upper jaw expander that gradually makes the upper widen until the lower jaw stops overlapping and a reverse-pull facemask. However, it all depends on the situation.
Correcting an underbite with braces may not always be the best solution because they do not solve the problem of jaw size. However, for mild underbite, braces may work. Teeth may be extracted in order for the remaining teeth to fit better in the jaw, but braces may not give the best cosmetic solution.
The cause of the underbite should also be taken into consideration when choosing a treatment. Underbites can be caused by a small upper jaw or a large lower jaw. If the cause is by the overgrowth of the lower jaw, it is recommended to wait until the jaw stops growing, which is usually sometime in the teenage years. This is because any treatment will be ruined if the jaw continues to grow after treatment.
Braces or another orthodontic appliance may be the best solution for your child’s underbite problem. This may be determined by our orthodontist at Pack Orthodontics in Murfreesboro or Shelbyville. In some cases, early treatment is the right way, and in other cases, it is better to wait until the jaw has stopped growing. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our office in Shelbyville or Murfreesboro to learn more about fixing an underbite with braces.