Why Treat An Underbite?

Normally, when you close your jaws, your upper teeth should land in front of your lower teeth. In an underbite, the reverse happens. An underbite should be fixed because the side effects can be, at best, highly uncomfortable. At worst, they can interfere with the ability to eat and may also damage teeth. If your child has an underbite, or if you've had one and just never took care of it, now's the time.

Why You Don't Want to Ignore an Underbite

Side effects of an underbite range from continually chipping teeth when you bite down or wearing through the enamel, to being unable to chew properly. Severe underbites, in which the jaw is visibly set forward, can also lead to miscommunication as people misinterpret facial expressions. A lower jaw sitting forward is often a sign of anger or defiance, and you can imagine the social problems that can lead to.

What Non-Surgical Options Exist

For the most part, underbite treatments start off as non-surgical. If the underbite is mild, non-surgical correction should work well, but if the procedure does not seem to improve the condition enough, then surgery is an option.

While many underbites are helped with braces, a very mild underbite can benefit from cosmetic procedures that don't actually get rid of the underbite in terms of jaw position, but that instead modify the teeth themselves to change their positions. In the cosmetic procedure, lower teeth are reshaped, while veneers are placed on the upper teeth. The result is lower teeth that sit behind the upper teeth when you close your mouth. However, the teeth have not changed position, and the jaws haven't been modified.

Serious underbites in children may benefit from dental appliances that gradually move the teeth and jaws. These appliances are not the same as braces; one type is essentially headgear that manipulates the jaws, while another acts as an upper-jaw expander that pushes the upper jaw forward and out gradually.

If the underbite does not appear to be causing a problem, that actually doesn't mean you can leave it alone without evaluation. It's possible you or your child have just learned to compensate for any effects. Your dentist can determine whether or not the underbite really is affecting how you eat, talk, and generally appear. The severity of the condition will influence whether surgery or orthodontics is best. Before anything else, you should speak to your dentist about which way to go first.

For more information about underbites and dentistry, contact a local dental office, or check out a website like https://valleyoakdentalgroup.com/.