Non-surgical Treatment of Underbites
Enjoying all the delicacies of yummy food can be difficult when you have a dysfunctional bite, or a malocclusion. Malocclusions such as underbites don’t only affect the cosmetics of a smile, but they can also create functional and health issues. Underbites are defined as lower teeth biting in front of the upper teeth, creating a reverse relationship of incisors. Many patients assume that underbites always require a major jaw surgery and delay treatment, but proper diagnosis of underbites, as well as early intervention if appropriate, can often lead to a non-surgical correction of underbites and significantly improve the outcome. It is therefore very important that patients and parents seek out orthodontic evaluation as soon as they notice an underbite developing.
What Is an Underbite?
Anterior crossbite, or more commonly referred to as an underbite, is a malocclusion that occurs when the lower teeth bite in front of the top teeth. A mild underbite is present when the top and bottom incisors almost meet, while a severe underbite occurs when the teeth cannot meet because the gap is so wide. An underbite can also cause self-consciousness and health issues, such as chewing difficulties, speech impairments, headaches, muscle pain, or TMD-like symptoms. Luckily, most underbites can be corrected with orthodontic treatment.
Underbite Causes and Complications
An underbite can be caused by either an underdeveloped upper jaw or an overdeveloped lower jaw, or a combination of the two. It can create several problems, depending on the severity, including:
Underbite Correction Methods
Non-surgical treatment for orthodontic conditions such as underbites requires the use of certain appliances. Another tool at our disposal is starting treatment at a young age. Ideally, a patient will begin visiting an orthodontist before their final permanent teeth erupt, meaning there is sufficient time to help with their dental and jaw development.
We can avoid surgery if we properly guide your child’s dental development from a young age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends parents take their children to an orthodontist by age seven. However, if you know there is a history of abnormal jaw growth or underbites in your family, take your child to a specialist even sooner.
Sad that you missed the train on this one? Even in adults, mild to moderate underbites can often be successfully corrected with carefully-planned and well-executed orthodontic treatment alone, so be sure to discuss all your treatment options with your orthodontic specialist.
In very severe cases, orthognathic jaw surgery may be the best option. Talk to Dr. Leemin during your complimentary consultation to devise the best plan for tackling your or your child’s underbite.