An underbite is a dental condition that occurs when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw. Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments for underbites on our website.
What is Underbite?
An underbite is a dental condition where the lower teeth protrude further than the upper teeth when biting down. This can be a result of genetics, childhood habits like thumb-sucking, or skeletal abnormalities. It can not only affect the appearance of a person’s smile, but also their ability to chew and speak properly.
The Causes of Underbite
As mentioned, underbite can occur due to a variety of reasons:
- Genetics: This is the most common factor, where an underbite can be hereditary and passed down from parents to their children.
- Childhood habits: Prolonged thumb-sucking, pacifier use, and tongue-thrusting can cause the jaw to develop abnormally, leading to an underbite.
- Skeletal abnormalities: Certain conditions like acromegaly and hemifacial microsomia can cause an underbite.
The Effects of Underbite
Underbite not only affects the appearance of a person’s smile but can also lead to some functional problems like:
- Difficulty in biting and chewing
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw
- Speech problems like lisping or difficulty enunciating words
- In some cases, underbite can lead to sleep apnea and breathing problems.
Treatment for Underbite
Fortunately, underbite can be treated, but the treatment option will depend on the severity and cause of the condition. Treatment options include:
- Jaw surgery: In severe cases, orthognathic surgery may be required, which involves repositioning the upper jaw to align it with the lower jaw.
- Braces or Invisalign: Mild to moderate underbite can be treated with braces or clear aligners like Invisalign. These treatments can gradually shift the teeth over time to correct the underbite.
- In some cases, a combination of surgery and orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct the underbite.
Prevention of underbite starts from childhood. It is essential to encourage children to stop thumb-sucking and pacifier use. Early orthodontic intervention can also help detect and correct underbite at an early age. Regular dental checkups can also help identify any developing issues with the jaw or teeth.
It is important to address underbite early to prevent any further complications or functional problems. A consultation with an orthodontist or a dentist can help determine the best treatment plan for underbite.