Underbites are characterized by the lower jaw protruding out past the upper jaw. This then causes the lower teeth to hang over the upper teeth, making people self-conscious about their appearance.
Born This Way
Here’s what’s interesting about underbites: Most are hereditary. Underbites affect only between 5-10% of the population, and in most cases, it’s a trait they’re born with.
Some ethnic groups, like people of Asian decent, are actually more prone to developing underbites than the rest of the population. The Habsburgs, a European royal family, were also known for their protruding jaws.
While you can’t fight your genes, there are some environmental factors that can cause a protruding jaw. They include:
- Tongue thrusting – this occurs when the tongue is constantly pressed against the bottom teeth.
- Mouth breathing, which can actually push the jaw forward while the jaw is being developed.
- Poor lip and mouth posture
If you realize your child suffers from an underbite, early intervention is key to correcting it. The earlier you can catch it, the better the chances are that you’ll avoid more invasive treatment such as surgery in the future.
Correcting an Underbite
If one of our patients needs an underbite correction, I normally refer them to an orthodontic specialist, who’ll utilize one of several types of procedures.
An upper jaw expander is used to widen the jaw. The expander is placed in the roof of the mouth and a key is turned each day to expand the jaw until the desired expansion has been reached and the width of the upper jaw matches the lower jaw. Once the proper expansion has been reached, the patient will wear a reverse pull headgear which is also called a face mask. This appliance is attached to the expander by rubber bands and It pulls the upper jaw forwards into a more proper location.
In cases of severe underbites, surgery may be required to adequately correct the jaw. While these treatments can help correct the jaw, braces will typically still be needed to correct the patient’s bite.
Get Underbite Treatment Early
It’s crucial that treatment begin as early as possible. Once the jaw is fully formed, there are less treatment options and surgery is typically the only solution to correct the underbites. Again, braces will probably be used in addition to surgery to provide the most desirable result.
It’s important that you do not leave an underbite untreated. Mis-aligned bites don’t just look unsightly, they affect how your mouth works, how your jaw grows and can lead to a host of other dental problems in the future.
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