An underbite is a common condition with children and adults. It occurs when the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw, causing the lower front teeth to overlap the teeth above them. While underbites may be far less common than overbites, they affect about 10% of all Americans. The leading cause of an underbite is genetics, in which the patient inherits the problem from their parents. Malformed teeth or overcrowding can also contribute to an underbite.
Now that we understand what an underbite is, now let’s look into how to fix it. Here are four treatments that dentists and oral surgeons employ to correct this condition.
Traditional braces have been dealing with underbites for decades. Paired with headgear and elastics, they are efficient in achieving jaw realignment. Their downside is that they are highly visible and not the most aesthetic when the patient is wearing them. Most traditional braces must be worn for 18-36 months to be effective.
A viable treatment option for an underbite, especially in adults, is the removable teeth aligner, Invisalign. This alignment therapy produces similar results as the traditional braces. It can also be paired with features like elastics to help correct overlapping teeth.
The treatment involves a series of transparent aligner trays, customized for each patient to move their teeth into the desired alignment. A 3D image of the teeth is necessary to produce the tailored aligner trays. This treatment takes about one year.
3. Home Teeth Aligners
There are other treatment options available for adults who want straighter teeth. They are similar to Invisalign in that they are removable, clear, and customized. But the big difference is they are done through remote purchases without the advantages of seeing a dentist or oral surgeon in person. As such, these home aligners are limited in their ability to fix an underbite condition.
4. Oral Jaw Surgery
When the underbite is severe, it may require oral jaw surgery. This is when the lower teeth are extended well beyond the upper, causing a problem with facial appearance. This correction is necessary when cosmetic adjustments of the teeth are not sufficient.
Oral surgery is an underbite option when the underbite is due to disproportionate jaw growth. Some patients require corrective jaw surgery and orthodontics to fix one or both jaws, followed by dental arches.