A complete guide to underbite correction
Teeth can have an extremely large impact on how we perceive ourselves and others. For most people, having “bad” teeth can lead to a lack of confidence, which can even lead to anxiety and depression in some cases. However, having healthy teeth is not always easy, especially if you have to deal with malocclusions. An underbite is one such malocclusion, classified as a “type 3” teeth malocclusion. There are numerous ways that you can use to correct it, from braces to surgery. If you are looking into the former, make sure to read a few invisible aligners reviews before you proceed any further. But even before you do so, you may want to read this guide to underbite correction, where we will walk you through what an underbite actually is and what you can do about it.
What is an underbite?
An underbite is a dental condition where your lower teeth extend farther than your upper teeth.
This mostly happens due to the misalignment of the jaw but it may manifest itself due to various other reasons as well. Furthermore, there are different kinds of underbites. Some cannot even be detected from the outside, all but requiring a visit to an orthodontist to diagnose. Severe underbite cases are much more visible, as the jaw may protrude significantly and therefore be hard to miss. But one of the qualities of a good orthodontist is that they do not need overly visible signs to spot an underbite. The best professionals will be able to spot an underbite forming even before there are any visible signs of it.
Some people may think that underbite does not need to be fixed, as they believe it is only an aesthetic issue. But that is definitely not the case. By not correcting an underbite, you are risking wear and tear on your front teeth, making them susceptible to excessive chipping or even breakage. Furthermore, an overbite can cause numerous problems with the jaw and teeth alike. If left unchecked, it can even cause speech impairment. Not to mention that chewing can be very difficult due to misalignment of the jaw. Lastly, an underbite may cause significant mental issues, a lack of self-confidence being the most benign one.
What can happen if underbite is not corrected?
One of the first things that we would like to mention in our guide to underbite correction is that failing to correct this particular malocclusion can have numerous consequences. Here is a couple of them:
- Halitosis – An underbite that is not corrected can cause bacteria to gather inside your mouth. This can easily develop into chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis.
- Sleep apnea – Due to the misalignment of the jaw, people with an underbite may stop breathing at some points while they sleep, preventing the body from getting enough rest. If you are feeling fatigued during the day, despite getting enough sleep, this may be the cause.
- TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) – TMD is a hinge that connects your skull to the jaw and underbite can cause various issues with it. If you happen to hear popping sounds as you try to move it, or if you feel like it is locked into one position, this may be due to an underbite.
- Mouth breathing – Many people with an underbite also develop the habit to breathe through their mouth. This usually leads to heavy snoring and similar issues.
What causes underbite?
The main causes of underbite are:
- Injuries – For most people, suffering a jaw injury or a trauma is how they get their underbite. If your jaw was broken at any point and has not healed correctly, it may lead to you developing an underbite. There are treatments that can fix this issue but they are not 100% effective.
- Tumors – Another common cause of an underbite is the growth of a tumor. If a tumor grows in an unfortunate location, it may misalign or shift the jaw and cause an underbite.
- Genetics – As with many other things, we inherit the shape and size of our teeth from our parents (for the most part). In fact, one of the most common causes of an underbite has a genetic basis. If your family has a medical history of underbites, there are good chances that you may develop one as well.
- Bad habits – Last, but definitely not least, a person can develop an underbite purely through bad habits. This is most prevalent in our childhood years, due to excessive usage of dummy nipples, pacifiers, or excessively sucking our thumbs. One thing to note is that none of these things are dangerous if in moderation. To be perfectly safe, however, it is smart to avoid forming any such habits in the first place.
How can you correct an underbite?
Underbite correction is usually accomplished through the following methods:
- Reverse-pull face masks
- Jaw expanders
- Tooth extraction
However, as almost every underbite is quite unique, it is recommended to talk to your orthodontist before you proceed. There are many different types of braces, for example, and you may want to choose the optimal option for your condition. Your orthodontist will help you choose the best option for your unique situation. With that in mind, let’s explore these methods in a bit more detail.
Guide to underbite correction – Braces
Usually, the first thing that an orthodontist will recommend is for a patient to utilize braces to correct an underbite. Braces gradually alter the position of the teeth and can be utilized in mild to modest underbites. Traditional brace variants utilize steel or ceramic brackets that are connected by flexible wires. There may be other components to braces, such as headgear, rubber bands, metal ties, etc. As you might imagine, the largest “problem” of traditional braces is the visual appeal.
However, these days, there are numerous options on the market, even invisible braces! The main advantage of using braces is the fact that they work faster than most other options. Still, if you experience any warning signs that you need braces, it may be in your best interest to talk to your orthodontist about them. Never decide on braces on your own, however, as the wrong choice can easily cause soreness of the mouth.
An alternative to braces, dental aligners are practically invisible. They can also be easily removed, allowing for intake of food and drink without any worries. Basically, aligners are custom-molded clear trays that fit very tightly over your teeth. They work much the same as braces do, by applying constant pressure on your teeth.
This pressure, over time, will push your teeth into their proper (or desired) place. Dental trays are also one of the most effective ways to whiten teeth, as well. One thing to note is that not everyone can fit aligners easily. Your orthodontist may even need to remove a few of the teeth from the lower jaw before aligners can be put into place.
Reverse-pull face masks
Another method of underbite correction is a reverse-pull face mask. However, this method is only applicable to younger patients, usually under the age of 10. The way these masks work is by pulling the kid’s upper jaw forward. It is an extremely effective method, but it does have some drawbacks. Namely, most children find these masks to be quite unpleasant and parents have difficulties making their kids wear them for 15 hours each day.
But if you want to ensure that your kid does not develop a serious underbite, following this suggestion from our guide to underbite correction and having your child wear a reverse-pull face mask is a small concession to make.
Jaw (palate) expanders
Jaw expanders are a great option when your upper jaw does not develop fully. They are basically metal devices that go over your back teeth. Jaw expanders push the teeth out, allowing for the expansion of the palate and the upper jaw. Some expanders function similarly to aligners, meaning that you can remove them. In some cases, however, your orthodontist may need to fix them on the palate itself. This particular method is most effective with patients younger than twelve, but it can be used with adults as well.
Jaw expanders are less noticeable than braces and they work quicker. But they do tend to cause soreness and are not applicable to most adults.
The fastest, and usually the most effective, way of underbite correction is through jaw surgery. The way this surgery works is by moving the lower jaw back or moving the upper teeth forward. Thus, lower teeth end up behind the upper teeth, as is their natural position. Jaw surgery takes far less time to correct an underbite than any other orthodontic device. That being said, it is still a surgery, meaning there might be complications. Furthermore, the surgery itself can be very expensive as well as uncomfortable. And last but not the least, most patients report that the recovery period is very difficult.
But despite all of the drawbacks, most patients state that they would do it all over again if they had to, despite the recovery period being a very challenging experience.
Invisalign is a very popular option, as it is virtually invisible. Most people dislike the way braces and other devices look, and look to “invisible” options. In most cases, Invisalign will be a part of the treatment and not the treatment itself. While some underbites can be corrected with Invisalign alone, chances are that further treatment is necessary. Before you follow this recommendation from our guide to underbite correction, it is best to talk to your orthodontist and see if you qualify for this solution, first. It does not take more than a couple of minutes to connect to a dentist and get your results.
If the cause of an underbite is too many teeth in the lower jaw, tooth extraction might be your best option. In most cases, these teeth will interfere with any other method, such as braces. The good news is that tooth extraction is a painless process, done under a local anesthetic. It is quick and simple, and it has the potential to solve your underbite all on its own.
Guide to underbite correction – Frequently Asked Questions
Is it normal to have an underbite?
Yes. While it may not be as common as an overbite (70%), an underbite occurs in 5-10% of the U.S. population. That means that almost one in ten people develop an underbite. It is quite common, indeed.
Does my insurance cover jaw surgery?
Jaw surgery is in a “weird” spot, as many people consider it to be a cosmetic procedure. However, orthognathic (corrective) jaw surgery is covered by most health insurance policies. You may want to check with your insurance provider before you make any further decisions.
How long does it take to correct an underbite?
The correction time largely depends on the underbite severity. Moderate to severe cases usually require up to 12 months, with mild cases requiring a much shorter time period. It is all individual, however, and the exact time varies on a case-by-case basis. It is always ideal to consult your orthodontist for a precise estimate.
Does underbite get worse with age?
Yes, it does. Most notably, if an underbite is not corrected before the “growth spurt”, it can develop into a serious medical issue.
Can an underbite be corrected on its own?
While this may, indeed, be possible, it is quite rare. So rare, in fact, that it is almost always better to seek treatment. Also, while an underbite has the potential to correct itself, it has a much greater chance to cause even more serious issues.
Can underbite damage my teeth?
Again, yes. In fact, this is why having an underbite is very dangerous in the first place. When your teeth are misaligned, you may have trouble chewing your food, making you chew longer. This causes more than normal “wear and tear”, and will damage your teeth in the long run. As the underbite gets worse, you may find yourself having more and more trouble swallowing and chewing your food.
This would not be the ultimate guide to underbite correction if we did not tell you how to go about finding the perfect solution for your underbite. Simply browse and explore the rest of the Consumer Opinion Guide and you will find all the best dental products and the best companies that offer them! Correcting an underbite may seem like a huge deal but you may find it is much simpler than you’ve thought.