Understanding Underbites: Causes and Effects
An underbite is a dental condition where the lower teeth protrude forward. This can give an appearance of a jaw protruding out of the mouth. Underbites can range from mild to severe, and they should be corrected with orthodontic treatment.
Underbites can also cause health problems like chronic headaches, difficulty speaking and eating, jaw pain, and tooth decay due to excessive enamel wear.
Underbite vs. Overbite: Differences Explained
Understanding the difference between an underbite and an overbite is essential for good dental hygiene. Overbites occur when the upper teeth overlap excessively. An underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw.
Causes of Underbites and Contributing Factors
Underbites are usually caused by genetics, but it can also be caused by trauma or misaligned teeth.
Trauma: Any kind of facial trauma can cause an underbite. An underbite can also occur if the jaw is pushed out of alignment because of a cyst, abscess, or tumour.
Misaligned Teeth: Misaligned teeth or losing baby teeth too early can also result in an underbite. If teeth are not aligned, it can cause a functional shift in the jaw and lead to an underbite.
Treatment Options for Underbites
Orthodontic treatment is effective in correcting underbites, often without the need for surgery (although that is necessary sometimes). Treatment options are determined by the patient's age and the severity of the underbite. Below are some of the most popular methods:
Treating Underbites with Upper Jaw Expanders
Your orthodontist might recommend an upper jaw expander if you have a narrow upper jaw. It gradually expands the upper jaw to make the lower teeth better align with the top teeth.
Underbite Correction with Reverse-Pull Headgear
Patients less than 10 years old can benefit from this kind of treatment. It can be used to bring the upper jaw forward and function more successfully.
Correcting Underbites with Traditional Braces
For decades, traditional braces for underbites have been used to effectively realign the jaw. Sometimes, they can be combined with headgear and elastics. They are, however, noticeable and unappealing, and typically require 18-36 months of wear for optimal results.
Underbite Treatment with Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are a removable teeth aligners designed for adults or teens who have an underbite. It produces similar results to traditional braces and can be combined with elastics to correct overlapping teeth. The patient wears clear aligner trays that were created using a 3D scan of their teeth. The treatment lasts about a year, but that can vary depending on your specific case.
Underbite Correction through Tooth Extraction
In mild to severe cases of underbite, it may be possible to correct the problem by removing a few of the affected teeth from the mouth.
Surgical Correction of Underbite
Surgery is a common procedure used to realign the upper and lower jaws in their optimal positions in patients with severe underbite. It is highly predictable and has a low risk of complications. Patients can be referred to a maxillofacial surgeon for further treatment by a specialized orthodontist. Early detection by a skilled orthodontist is critical for successful treatment.
Surgery for underbites reshapes the jaw, extending the upper jaw or shortening the lower jaw. In some cases, wires, plates, or screws can be used to keep the correct contour of the jawbone.
How Can You Prevent an Underbite?
Early dental exams can aid in the detection of underbite in children who may have inherited it from a parent. Regular dental examinations can detect developing signs of underbite, but genetically predetermined underbites cannot be avoided.
Underbite correction is possible, but it is critical to act quickly to avoid further deterioration. It is critical to discuss treatment options with a dentist or orthodontist in order to find the most effective solution. Proper treatment can alleviate pain and improve the appearance of the smile.