The misalignment of your teeth and jawbone can severely impact your overall oral health by contributing to a number of symptoms including pain, tooth sensitivity, and discomfort. While underbites aren’t nearly as common as overbites, nor are they life-threatening, they can make it difficult for you to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth. If left untreated for too long, underbites can lead to potentially serious oral infections and structural issues within your mouth. Many people seem to mistakenly believe that underbites can only be corrected through oral surgery and therefore forgo treatment altogether. Can underbites be treated without surgery? Keep reading to find out the answer to this question and explore a few non-surgical and minimally invasive treatment options.
What Is an Underbite?
Underbites develop when the bottom half of the jaw extends forward, causing the lower teeth to protrude significantly further than the upper teeth and jaw. The technical term for this type of misalignment is Class III malocclusion or prognathism. As a result, the bottom teeth are forced into an incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes painful position depending on how far out they protrude past the upper teeth. Slight underbites don’t usually present any major dental issues, but they are aesthetically displeasing. Over time, however, even minor underbites can get progressively worse and lead to potentially serious dental issues. That’s why it’s best to seek out underbite treatment as early on as possible.
Types of Malocclusion Classifications
The level of underbite treatment you have depends largely on the severity of the condition. Some underbites are far more serious than others. There are three types of malocclusion classifications that your dentist will most likely tell you about when examining your teeth. These include the following:
Class 1: As the most common type of malocclusion, this applies to both overbites and underbites equally. Characterized by the slight overlapping of the upper or lower teeth, the bite of the jaw is hardly impacted by the misalignment. Regardless, it’s better to get the condition corrected before it gets worse with age.
Class 2: This refers to overbites, which are more common than underbites. Overbites occur when the upper teeth noticeably overlap the bottom teeth and jaw.
Class 3: This refers to underbites, which occur when the bottom teeth noticeably overlap the upper teeth and jaw.
Even when they’re barely noticeably, it’s important to seek dental treatment for malocclusions because they can impact various aspects of your life. Particularly, underbites can cause speech impediments and alter your facial expressions.
Common Underbite Treatments
When it comes to successfully correcting an underbite, dentists might suggest getting jaw surgery. Several surgical underbite treatment methods exist, including reshaping the upper or lower jaw and extracting two teeth from the lower jaw. Although these are fairly common and standard procedures, it’s understandable that some patients might not be comfortable going under the knife, even if it’s for medical reasons.
Can Underbites Be Treated without Surgery or Braces?
The short answer is yes, underbite correction without surgery is possible. If you’ve been diagnosed with a severe underbite that needs immediate treatment, but prefer not to have surgery, you can discuss your concerns with your dentist. Alternatively, non-surgical underbite treatment options include:
Many clients who require underbite treatment are adults. Generally speaking, many of them are embarrassed to get braces past their teenage years, so they prefer to undergo Invisalign treatment instead. If your underbite is caused by misaligned bottom teeth and not a misaligned jaw, then Invisalign is a very effective non-surgical treatment option.
It’s a step-by-step treatment method that starts with your dentist creating a mould of your teeth. The mould is then either sent to their onsite or offsite dental lab where aligners are created according to the bite and shape of your bottom teeth. These dental aligners are completely clear so no one will ever know you’re wearing them!
The only caveat is that you’ll have to schedule dental appointments once every four to five weeks to have them updated as your teeth are straightened over time. Since the dental aligners are formulated to fit your teeth perfectly, they can easily be removed and replaced for cleaning. Your dentist will provide detailed care instructions.
Sometimes, underbites form as a result of a skeletal issue in which the size of the jaw is too small to accommodate all of the teeth. This can result in overcrowding of both the upper and lower teeth. A jaw expander is placed on the roof of the mouth to widen the jaw naturally. To be effective, this treatment should be administered at an early age before the jaw is completely set. After a certain age, corrective surgery may be required. Typically, this treatment lasts between six months to one year depending on the severity of the condition. After the jaw expander is removed, your dentist will place a permanent retainer on the back of the lower teeth to prevent them from shifting back to their original positions.
Reverse Pull Headgear
As the name suggests, reverse pull headgear or face masks are the most physically invasive non-surgical treatment methods for correcting underbites. This tool is also best implemented as an early form of treatment to correct and prevent the underbite from getting worse with age. Along with wires and metal plates, reverse pull headgear is placed on the client’s head and actively pulls the lower jaw backward to bring it to the correct position. Reverse pull headgear is usually worn at night.
Non-Surgical Underbite Treatment in Toronto
At Princeview Dental Group, whether you prefer surgical or non-surgical treatment options, our friendly staff will take the time to carefully assess your teeth and jaw alignment so that we can make the right recommendation to suit your needs. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us today!