An underbite is a relatively simple, yet equally complex condition. Simply put, it is where the bottom jaw protrudes to a point where your bottom teeth actually overlap your top teeth. There are a wide variety of issues that can stem from this seemingly simple characteristic. Fortunately, though, there are also a variety of ways to solve it as well.
When it comes to determining the source of your underbite, there are a lot of different areas to consider. This type of condition is far less common than an overbite, which is the exact opposite (top teeth over bottom). For starters, one big reason for an underbite is actually genetics. If one or both of your parents ever had an underbite, there is a much higher chance for you to develop one as well. If neither of your parents suffered from this condition, then there are a plethora of other reasons that you may be stuck with an underbite.
For example, you may have developed this issue from infancy. Sucking your thumb can lead to an underbite. However, you may also get it from the repeated motion of your tongue pressing against your teeth or jaw as a baby using a bottle or pacifier. Your race may predispose you to an underbite as well. For example, people of Asian descent tend to have a higher risk. If you suffered from allergies or chronic congestion as a child, you may have spent more time breathing out of your mouth. This can also lead to this condition.
An underbite causes a lot of problems. So, dentists recommend that you take care of the problem as soon as possible. First and foremost, it can cause excessive strain in all areas of your mouth. This is an irregular bite pattern so your teeth care constantly strained which can cause severe damage over time. Your jaw muscles were also not designed to be used in this fashion and can become warped and damaged as well, causing chronic pain. An underbite can also give your face an extremely abnormal appearance depending on the severity of your condition.
Many people find this cosmetically unappealing and it may affect a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Another reason that an underbite needs to be treated as soon as possible is that it can rapidly wear down on your tooth enamel, as your teeth do not sit as they should. This means a larger chance for tooth decay and damage over time. Outside of your teeth, you can develop TMJ, which is another oral disorder that causes chronic pain in your jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint.
There are different treatments and solutions that can help us repair any severity of underbite. It is important to remember that the earlier an underbite can be repaired, the more effective it will be. Ideally, eight years of age or younger is when treatment should be started. However, that is not always possible. If you go to an orthodontist, they can help you to discover the extent to which your underbite is damaging.
If your underbite is only based on your tooth development rather than your jaw alignment, you should be ok to merely have braces as a teen. This will straighten everything out and will result in a beautiful smile. If it is a jaw problem, though, more treatment becomes necessary
For kids, there are three main treatments. The first is an upper jaw expander. This device is custom made for each patient made from plastic and wires. This appliance then goes in the roof of your mouth. Every night, patients use a small key to widen the expander slightly. This goes on for about a year before removal. Then you receive a retainer in order to maintain this desired width.
Another option is a reverse-pull face mask. This is a mask that wraps around the patient’s head, which attaches to metal bands in the back teeth. Newer versions sit comfortably on the from top the patient’s face. This appliance is used to pull the upper jaw into its proper place with perfect alignment. It is very effective in eliminating underbite. Finally, there is also a chin cap, which stops the growth of the lower jaw.
Treating underbite in adults can be more difficult since your bones are all set in place already. If braces will not work, you may need a surgery in order to realign everything properly. However, no matter what you are dealing with, there is absolutely a way around the oral trauma that an underbite can bring with it.