An underbite is a type of malocclusion (the word used when teeth aren’t aligned properly) characterized by the protrusion of the lower jaw. It usually looks like the lower part of the jaw is jutting out farther than the top. It may be caused by a skeletal malformation of the jaw, a badalignment of the teeth, or both.


How is an Underbite Formed?


An underbite is less common than an overbite, affecting less than 3% of dental patients. It’s usually a genetic characteristic.

An underbite can also be due to bad habits. When your tonguerepeatedly pushesagainst the lower teeth in childhood, it can cause a change in the lower jaw placement. Also, poor eating habits can contribute to the problem. Children suffering from allergies or nasal congestion tend to breathe through the mouth, forcing the tongue to rest on the lower teeth and increasing the chances of developing this type of malocclusion.


Complications of an Underbite


Aesthetically, an underbite causes an abnormality in the shape of the face characterized by a very pronounced chin. An underbite can cause other problems, including difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking. 

Bite problems caused by an underbite can wear out the tooth enamel, increasing the chances of developing tooth decay or other dental problems.


Treatment of Underbites for Children


The only way to fix an underbite is with professional intervention. The earlier you act, the more options there are to avoid dental surgery in the future. The ideal age to begin treatment is around eight years old. At this age, children’s jaws are still forming, so they are easier to reshape.

If you think your child has an underbite, call us today at 317-745-4400 to be evaluated. Although we don’t perform orthodontics in our office, we can help you come up with a treatment plan. Some things canhelp an underbite problem like an expander of the upper jaw, a face mask, or a chin guard.

Not all treatments will eliminate the need for surgery in adulthood. In cases where the underbite is mild or dental (which affects the position of the teeth instead of the jaw),the Danville Family Dentistry staff may prefer not to perform any treatment during childhood and may advise you to treat it with conventional orthodontics in the future. In any case, orthodontic treatment is usually essential.


Treatment of Underbites for Adults


The treatment of an underbite in adults is quite limited. Once the jaw is fully formed, the jaw expanders or the masks will have no effect. If the problem is due to the skeletal structure, surgery is usually required. With this surgery,both the lower and upper jaw can be moved to achieve a perfect bite. This procedure is performed in a hospital under general anesthesiaby an oral surgeon. Orthodontics may be required both before and after the surgery.

If the underbite is only dental and the jaw is not misaligned, surgery can be avoided. In this case, orthodontics will be the ideal treatment to solve the problem. If there is severe dental crowding, it may be necessary to perform some dental extraction beforehand.

It is never too late to correct an underbite, andour experts can help prepare a plan made especially for you or your family.

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.