Underbite Explained

What is an underbite?

Simply put, an underbite happens when the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth. This can be caused by several factors. Keep reading to discover why underbites are a problem, the difference in Overbites vs Underbites and how to fix underbite. Learn more about how they develop and get the scoop on underbite surgery.

underbite underbite surgery overbite vs underbite

Why is an underbite a problem?

If you don’t have an underbite, stick your bottom teeth out past your top teeth and hold them there. Look at yourself in the mirror and try talking. Imagine having to live like that all the time. Not surprisingly, people with underbites usually hate how it affects their appearance and face shape. Not only do underbites cause cosmetic issues, but they also suffer from difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking. The misaligned jaws create an imbalanced bite which causes extra tooth wear and increases their chance of cavities. Not only do these bite problems wear out teeth faster, but they also impact the jaw joint causing joint pain, facial pain and headaches.

    before and after dentures

    Overbite vs Underbite

    Lots of people want me to compare overbite vs underbite. Of course, physically speaking, they are exact opposites. In an overbite, the upper jaw sticks out too far past the lower jaw and collapses the face and jaw line. In an underbite, the lower jaw sticks out too far past the upper jaw creating an extra strong and aggressive looking jaw line. Because both overbite and underbite are misalignments of the jaws, they do cause some of the same problems. Both cause extra wear on teeth, stress on the jaw, headaches, higher cavity risk and higher broken tooth syndrome risk. Cosmetically, overbites create versions of “Old Man Syndrome” by collapsing the face. (Read more about “old man syndrome” on our overbite page) Underbites create an aggressive appearance that often gets younger children tagged as “bullies” or “angry” simply because of their jaw, not because of behavior.



    Underbite: Before & After

    How to Fix Underbite

    Underbites can be corrected in several ways depending on what has caused them and how severe they are. In fact, the EASIEST way to fix an underbite is to treat it early while bone is still growing. Simple, non-invasive orthodontic interventions can work wonders in children!

    In adults, treatment varies depending on the severity of the underbite. Though severe cases often require some degree of surgical intervention, more mild underbites can be improved dramatically using Invisalign and corrective cosmetic dentistry.

    What Causes Underbites?

    Abnormal Bone Growth

    • When an underbite is caused by an abnormal growth pattern, it means that either the lower jaw (the mandible) has grown larger than normal or the upper jaw (the maxilla) has not developed sufficiently.

    Orthodontic Issues

    • When an underbite is caused by orthodontic issues, it means that something has pushed the teeth in the lower jaw forward over time, extending the jaw. Tongue thrusters, mouth breathers, and even allergy sufferers are all at risk of their tongue pushing their lower teeth continually forward.

    Combination of Bone Growth and Orthodontic Issues

    • An underbite caused by a combination of these factors tells us that both genetics and lifestyle play a role. In these cases, a person predisposed to a longer lower jaw or shorter upper jaw also has another issue, such as tongue thrusting. People with multiple factors causing their underbite have complex cases. All treatment should include careful evaluation – no shotgun approach for these cases!

    Underbite Surgery: It’s not the ONLY Option

    Many people with underbites stop seeking help because they’ve been told that they can only correct their jaw with surgery. Thankfully, as dentistry progresses, solutions are becoming available that allow some people to dramatically improve their underbites without surgery. New developments in Invisalign and veneer technology are opening up non-surgical possibilities for people with underbites. Wondering if this solution might work for you? Call and schedule a consultation today. We’ll go over your case together and figure out what would work best for you.

    Beware of Dentists Who Over Promise

    Some dentist’s websites claim that non-surgical techniques correct all underbites. Not true. Although corrective cosmetic dentistry effectively treats some cases of class 3 malocclusion, but it never changes jaw length or size. Those things only change with surgery. If a website promises to fix ALL underbites non-surgically, don’t believe them.

    So how can you, as a patient, know if your dentist is treating you correctly? Ask the dentist what percentage of cases he or she believes he can fix with or without surgery. If they want to fix the majority of cases with one solution, they are probably not treating patients fairly and are getting a mixture of good results and compromised  results. Buyer Beware!

    If you’d like to fix your underbite but are trying to avoid surgery. Come in and meet with me for a consultation. We’ll go over your case and will figure out with you if the non-surgical restorative option is right for you. To schedule, click the Online Booking button in the upper menu or Call Us Today at (210) 600-9881.

    underbite example

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