When you look in the mirror sideways does your lower jaw seem to be pushed forward? Do your lower teeth overlap your upper teeth when you bite? You may have an underbite!
What is an underbite? The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) defines an underbite as a Class III malocclusion. Sounds serious, right? Underbites are serious orthodontic conditions! But not to worry—our experienced orthodontists in Millbrook, Montgomery and Wetumpka, Alabama are highly-trained in correcting your bite to reveal your true smile through underbite correction.
[h2] What causes an underbite?
What gives you blue eyes? The same factor is responsible for an underbite smile. Genetics are the boss when it comes to your appearance. But there are other contributing factors to the cause of underbite teeth, such as:
- Tongue thrusting
- Prolonged thumb-sucking or overuse of a pacifier (past the age of 3)
- Drinking from a bottle past infant years
- Trauma to the face or jaw
- Jaw tumors
Complications from Underbite
Whether you have a slight underbite or severe underbite, your quality of life can be improved! You may not even be aware of these symptoms or maybe you’ve just accepted them as normal. Here are some of the complications that may arise if you forgo necessary underbite correction:
1. Increased Risk of Cavities
When your lower and upper teeth overlap, it can make brushing and flossing more challenging and time consuming. The underbite teeth make it easy for food particles to hide and fester, causing tooth decay and bad breath.
2. Development of Sleep Apnea
Another serious side effect of untreated underbite is sleep apnea, commonly characterized by mouth breathing or loud snoring. With an underbite, the lower teeth protrude forward, causing undue stress on your jaw and neck. This creates a blockage in the upperway airway, restricting airflow. Sleep apnea causes random lapses in breathing while you sleep, and when left untreated, can lead to high blood pressure and stroke.
3. Emotional Distress
Untreated underbite can lead to more than just physical health problems. An underbite is notorious for giving a “bulldog” appearance to your facial structure. Children with this orthodontic condition may unfortunately experience bullying and suffer from low self-esteem. Adults with an underbite can also experience emotional distress due to lack of confidence in their smile!
4. TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)
People with an underbite can experience chronic jaw pain, or TMJ. This underbite side effect gives you the feeling of locked jaw, causing popping noises and bursts of severe jaw pain.
Types of Underbite
There are two types of underbite; both types can be the cause of an underbite smile.
With a healthy bite alignment, your upper teeth will slightly overlap the lower teeth. An underbite where the bottom teeth stick out but the lower jaw remains in place is called a “dental underbite”. This type of underbite is caused by teeth misalignment.
If you snap a pic of the side of your face, does your lower jaw seem to stick out? Do you look at your child and see theirs does too? A skeletal underbite is a severe underbite where your lower jaw protrudes. It’s hereditary and congenital (present at birth). The shape and size of your jaw and teeth are determined by genetics.
Can you treat underbite?
Yes! The good news is our orthodontists have years of experience optimizing our patients’ health by treating mild underbites or severe underbites. Depending on your specific condition, your orthodontist (Dr. Dunn or Dr. Schreiber) may suggest any of the following treatment options:
Traditional braces are extremely effective for underbite correction. In cases of slight underbite in children or adults, our orthodontists will evaluate the severity of underbite teeth and create a treatment plan customized 100% for you. We know how serious an underbite is and the effect it can have on your quality of life and we want to help our patients on their journey to a healthy, confident smile with Same Day Braces!
For adults and teens suffering from underbite teeth, Invisalign® clear aligners are a discreet treatment option. Each set of aligners will apply gentle pressure to correct your underbite and help reveal your true smile!
At your first visit, our highly-trained orthodontists may recommend palatal expansion for your child’s underbite treatment. Dr. Dunn and Dr. Schreiber offer this specialized orthodontic treatment to correct bad bites like underbite early on, before they progress! This device fits snugly in your child’s upper jaw and applies gentle pressure to expand their palate. Don’t worry— the procedure is as painless as braces. Palatal expansion will help create more room for your child’s teeth to grow in so they can grin from ear to ear.
Adults with a skeletal underbite may have to undergo corrective jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery. At your complimentary consultation, our orthodontists will use state-of-the-art technology to assess whether your condition requires jaw surgery. If so, we’ll connect you with a surgeon to treat the malformation of your upper and lower jaw bones, allowing your lower jaw to sit back in its proper position.
Still have questions about types of underbite or underbite treatment?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We love to hear from you. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.