What Is an Underbite? Causes, Complications, and Treatments to Correct Your Class III Malocclusion

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Underbites are a fairly common dental condition that occur in about 5-10% of the North American population. Despite its commonality however, it’s still important to seek out proper underbite treatment to prevent the condition from causing you pain, discomfort or other related symptoms later on in life. Even the most minor underbites have the potential to lead to severe dental conditions down the road. If you have an underbite and are considering having it corrected, keep reading to learn everything you need to know for proper treatment.

What Is an Underbite?

An underbite is a dental condition that occurs when the lower teeth extend forward and either slightly or profusely overlap the upper teeth, pushing them further back into the mouth. This condition is also classified as a Class III Malocclusion or prognathism.

Underbites can vary in severity. Some are more serious conditions than others and should be corrected as soon as possible, whereas others are milder in nature. Most people mistakenly believe that underbites are simply a cosmetic dental issue, but actually they’re more than that. If left untreated for too long, a severe underbite can actually cause serious dental and medical repercussions such as pain and discomfort due to jaw misalignment.

As a result, an underbite can also lower your quality of life by making biting and chewing food extremely difficult and it can also inhibit your speaking patterns and capability. The abnormal position of the lower teeth can cause noticeable speech impediments like a lisp.

What Can Cause an Underbite?

There are a number of underbite causes. Underbites can be hereditary, meaning that if even one person in your family tree—even if it’s a distant relative—has an underbite, then there’s a chance that you or someone else in your family can also develop one.

Certain habits such as sucking your thumb as a child or constantly pressing your tongue against your bottom teeth can slowly push your lower teeth forward over time.

Suffering a direct injury to the face can also temporarily or permanently damage your jaw, misaligning it. Even developing an oral tumor can alter the placement of your lower jawbone and force it to move forward.

Complications Associated with Underbites

There are many underbite complications that can be caused by not treating this condition. Some complications are indirectly associated with underbites, while others occur as a direct result of the malocclusion.

Chewing and biting down on foods may be painful, uncomfortable and become more difficult as time goes on. Adults and children who suffer from allergies—particularly nasal congestion—are more likely to develop an underbite and suffer these consequences. Nasal congestion blocks the airways in your nose. When this happens, you’re forced to breathe through your mouth. Breathing through your mouth forces the tongue to naturally rest against the lower jaw and the bottom teeth. Over time, this tongue position can place a great deal of pressure on the lower teeth and cause them to shift forward. Also, breathing through your mouth makes the lower jaw drop down and it may grow longer moving the teeth forward with that growth.

It’s recommended that adults get the problem corrected as soon as possible. However, if your child has an underbite, dentists recommend that you wait until they’re at least seven years of age before allowing them to undergo treatment. By that point, children should have lost the anterior baby teeth and their front adult teeth should be in.

A severe underbite can also alter the shape and appearance of your face, making your chin look a lot bigger than it actually is. For this reason, people with severe underbites often battle self-esteem issues regarding their appearances.

In addition to being dissatisfied with your appearance, having an underbite can seriously deteriorate your quality of life due to the considerable pain, discomfort and difficulty chewing that you’ll inevitably experience. The pronounced look of the bottom half of your face can also prematurely age you by pulling the skin forward and causing wrinkles, marionette lines, and jowls to form around your mouth and chin.

Underbite Treatment Options

Luckily, there are a number of helpful treatment options available that can effectively correct your underbite regardless of how severe it is. These include the following:

Invisalign

Adults typically prefer Invisalign as a viable treatment option when it comes to correcting misalignment in their teeth because it’s a subtle and virtually unnoticeable solution. Unlike braces or corrective dental headgear, no one will ever know that you’re wearing a dental appliance.

Braces

Braces are the more traditional option and are typically worn by children and teenagers. Modern dental technological advancements have called for vast improvements on braces so that they look more discreet and treatment timelines are shorter depending on the severity of the malocclusion.

Oral Surgery

Also referred to as dental or jaw realignment surgery, this is typically used on the most severe cases or as the last resort in the unlikely event that the other treatment options are completely unsuccessful. Oral surgery can be quite intrusive, and the recovery times can be lengthy and often uncomfortable for patients, which is why a lot of dentists don’t like performing them unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Using Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic appliances like positioners, external headgear, and dental rubber bands aren’t exactly conspicuous, which explains why they’re not a very popular choice for a lot of patients. However, they’re highly effective at correcting underbites in a short amount of time if worn correctly and for the recommended timeframe.

Underbite Correction Cosmetic Dentistry in Toronto

Princeview Dental Group is committed to helping our patients in Toronto and the GTA achieve all their dental and oral health goals. Contact us today to book a consultation!

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