If we ever recommend jaw surgery due to a severe overbite or underbite; the surgeon prefers the teeth to be aligned so they can put it in perfect occlusion before they start the treatment. This way, the surgeon puts it in correct occlusion and finishing of the braces is a lot easier.
What You Should Know About Underbites
An underbite is a layman medical term for a dental abnormality where the lower arch of teeth extends further out than the upper arch of teeth. The proper medical definition is a Class III Malocclusion or prognathism.
For those who suffer from this condition, it gives their mouth and face a protruding appearance similar to that of an English bulldog. While many cases of underbites are mild to moderate at best, some can be extremely severe. Those who have a severe case have to deal with teeth that are noticeably protruding far past the top arch. However, many cases are mild and the underbite itself is barely noticeable.?
An underbite can be much more than just a cosmetic problem. While some patients that have a mild underbite may experience only self-esteem or emotional issues?those with extreme underbites often suffer far more serious physical health problems such as:?
- Trouble chewing and biting food
- Speech impediments
- Pain in the face and mouth due to the severe misalignment
What Causes Underbites?
There really is no one dominant cause of underbites. The manner in which your teeth align can actually be determined by several very different factors. Typically teeth line up as they grow in so that the upper teeth extend just slightly over the lower teeth. Molars, the largest teeth in your mouth, located in the back; should fit snugly into one another like puzzle pieces. When teeth are properly aligned, it prevents you from biting your cheeks, lips or tongue when you eat or chew.?
An underbite can develop over your lifetime for several reasons which may include:?
Habits Displayed During Childhood
It is common for specific childhood habits to increase one?s risk for developing an underbite or another dental malocclusion later on. Some of the most common habits are:
- Thumb sucking
- Pushing the teeth with the tongue
- Prolonged pacifier use past age 3
- Long term bottle-feeding into toddler years and beyond
- Constant ?sippy cup? usage
The most often attributed cause of underbites comes down to simple genetics. One is more prone to develop an underbite if at least another family member such as a sibling or parent has one as well. Genetics also play a huge role in a person?s shape of their jaw, teeth, and size of both.
For example, you could be born with your teeth compacted very tightly, impacted, misshapen, or they could be teeth that don?t sit together well. A more severe condition called a cleft palate is another birth defect that can occur at birth. Any of these conditions can also result in a malocclusion.?
If you suffer a severe injury to the face such as blunt force trauma, it can leave you with permanent damage to your jawbone. Typically, jawbones can be repaired, but they don?t always heal back in proper alignment and might not fit together properly. Cases like these can leave a person with a developed underbite.?
Oral And Jawbone Tumors
Oral tumors or tumors that are attached to the jawbone can cause your jaw to protrude out which can also cause an underbite to a varying degree.?
Most people aren?t born with their teeth in perfect alignment, in fact, it rarely happens. Typically, teeth that are just slightly misaligned don?t warrant any medical correction but when correcting a severe underbite, it can come with some great benefits. These benefits can greatly impact one’s physical and emotional health.?
Teeth are easier to clean, which decreases the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. There will be less strain on the jaws, teeth, and muscles in the face. This reduced strain and muscle relief can greatly reduce the risk of breaking a tooth as well as lessen the symptoms of temporomandibular disorders, which can be very painful and is quite common with an underbite condition.?
Thankfully there are many different treatment options for underbites of all levels of severity.
For mild underbites, the biggest problem a patient faces is a higher risk of tooth decay and gingivitis which can cause further damage. Maintaining a vigilant brushing and flossing routine in tandem with regular dental checkups and cleanings is very important.
For those with a mild underbite, be sure to brush teeth at least twice a day for 2-3 minutes with a quality toothpaste containing fluoride. Make sure to pay close attention along the gumline, the inside and outside of your mouth, and the back of the mouth.
Every time you brush, you should be flossing and using mouthwash as well. It may seem like overkill, but with dental health you have only one set of natural teeth, it?s up to you to maintain them for life. Make sure you see your dentist at least twice a year to cover your bases.
The only way to truly fix an underbite is with medical treatment to align the jaw and teeth correctly. Medical treatment can either reverse an underbite or at least improve its appearance so it?s not so pronounced.?
In mild underbite cases, a dental professional may be able to employ the use of braces or other dental devices to gradually shift the teeth into proper alignment. Sometimes removing one or more teeth from the lower jaw may help with overcrowding and improve the appearance of an underbite
In the severe cases of underbites that pose a physical health threat or can cause severe quality of life issues, a dentist may prescribe surgery for the condition.
Underbites In Children
With underbites, the earlier you take care of the problem, the better the odds of getting it reversed. If a child?s underbite is rather mild, it is best to wait until at least the age of 7 to use corrective procedures. Permanent teeth erupt around this age, so any treatment before could be undermined when the new teeth come in.
If seeking a stop-gap solution for children, there are facemask appliances that can gently ease lower front teeth into proper alignment in kids. Later on, in adolescence or young adulthood, they will still need to get a permanent solution though.?
If your child has a rather severe underbite, specifically one caused by birth defects such as a cleft palate, surgery may actually help earlier on. Make sure you consult thoroughly with a dentist and find out what their professional opinion is. Surgery can be risky, so it should only be considered for children if the underbite is seriously altering their day to day life such as breathing, eating and such.
Not just any dentist can perform surgery for underbites, you need a certified oral surgeon who specializes in the treatment of misalignment issues. In many cases, the surgery may include reshaping or lengthening the jaw or use various dental tools to maintain the proper shape of your jaw. ?
Of course, jaw surgery comes with some risks just like any other procedure such as issues with anesthesia, infections, bleeding, and scar tissue. So, you want to make sure you go to an experienced and well-reviewed dental surgeon.?
Surgery typically involves imaging of your jawbone, general anesthetic, cutting of the jawbone, reshaping of the jaw and repositioning and more. The entire recovery process can take as little as one week or as much as three weeks. Often, your dentist will highly recommend you wear braces or some other form of alignment device to help maintain the work just performed.?
Underbites Shouldn?t Be Ignored
While an underbite is not a common dental condition, it can affect your self-esteem as well as your physical health. It is, however, possible to treat or even reverse an underbite depending on the severity.?
Contact Best Dental today to schedule your consultation regarding your underbite issue, we can get you on the road to that perfect smile you?ve been seeking.