An underbite is a type of malocclusion or “bad bite” in which the bottom teeth sit in front of the top teeth when the patient’s jaws are closed. The condition is sometimes also called “prognathism,” because the patient’s lower jaw is abnormally prominent.
Underbites often have a genetic cause and thus run in families. They can also be caused or worsened by bad habits like sucking the thumb. Underbites can also develop in patients who have allergies or adenoid problems that force them to breathe through the mouth. Thankfully, there is a way to treat your underbite with orthodontics.
What is the Growth Guidance Program?
Professionals now recommend that children start seeing an orthodontist by the time they are seven years old. By that age, they will have started losing their baby teeth and growing in their permanent teeth. The orthodontist will thus be able to spot potential problems like an underbite.
In addition, a child’s jaws are far more flexible than those of an adult. Orthodontic therapies can be used to treat conditions that would require surgery in an adult patient.
A child in the Growth Guidance Program would see their orthodontist twice a year. The orthodontist would check their teeth for problems and then recommend the best time for any needed treatments.
How is an underbite treated?
There are several ways to treat an underbite. The most common way to treat an overbite is with braces. Unique Orthodontics offers the Damon System braces that come with “tieless” brackets that allow the wire to move back and forth. Damon System braces also don’t need elastic bands to hold the wire in place, so it is easier for the patient to clean their teeth. The wire, unlike conventional wires, doesn’t need periodic tightening, so the patient doesn’t have to visit the orthodontist quite as often.
In many cases, the orthodontist will prescribe a retainer after the braces are taken off to ensure the teeth remain in their new and correct positions.
Invisalign can be used to treat some cases of underbite. Invisalign is a series of clear plastic aligners or trays that the patient wears over their teeth. The patient will change aligners every two weeks. Over time, the aligners will move the teeth into their correct position.
Unlike conventional braces, the aligners are removable. While the patient still needs to wear them for at least 22 hours a day, they can take them out while cleaning their teeth or eating. A patient using Invisalign thus won’t have the difficulties with oral hygiene or the food restrictions that patients with traditional braces do.
If the patient’s underbite is extremely severe or doesn’t respond to the more conservative methods described, they may need jaw surgery. Unique Orthodontics will work with oral surgeons to correct the patient’s jaws.