Underbites Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
What is an underbite?
An underbite (otherwise known as prognathism) occurs when your bottom jaw (mandible) extends ahead of the upper jaw (maxilla). It can affect your smile, your bite, your speech, and how your teeth come together when you chew. This type of malocclusion (misaligned bite) is most often classified as a class III malocclusion.
What causes an underbite?
An underbite could be caused by several factors such as genetics. However, one of the primary causes of an underbite is poor oral posture. Proper oral posture involves nasal breathing, proper swallowing function, and proper tongue position. The tongue is a very strong muscle. In normal jaw development where the upper arch is well developed, the tongue is positioned at the roof of the mouth during swallowing and speaking function. When a person has an underbite, their tongue lay passively on the bottom jaw during swallow and speech. The lack of pressure on the roof of the mouth inhibits the proper development of the upper jaw (the maxilla arch). The bottom jaw grows ahead of the upper jaw resulting in a class III malocclusion known as an underbite.
What type of problems can an underbite cause?
An underbite can cause the bite to be misaligned. Under normal dental development, the upper jaw (maxillary arch) is larger than the lower jaw (mandibular arch). In an underbite patient, the lower jaw is larger than the upper jaw or sometimes the maxillary arch is shorter than the mandibular arch. As a result, there is a heavier bite in certain areas than others causing the teeth to be worn down in certain areas. Other symptoms can including the following:
-excessive wear on the teeth
-uneven wear on the teeth
With underbite patients, there is a lack of the development of the midface (the cheeks, lips, nose area). This can result in making the midface look sunken and the patient appears older than they are. Due to the lack of the development of the maxilla, there is also a lack of support of the upper lip. The collapsed midface will also result in the lips appear thinner since there is a lack of support. Some other effects on facial development may include the following:
-collapsed of the midface
-thin upper lips
-short facial height
Functionally, the patient can develop TMJ symptoms such as jaw lock, jaw clicking, jaw popping, jaw pain, headaches, neck pain, ear or hearing problems, dizziness. Some other symptoms may include the following:
-Chewing and eating imbalance
-Snoring and sleep apnea
What type of treatment is available for an underbite?
You may have had other orthodontic visits where the only underbite treatment choice was surgery. Some attempt to do orthodontic treatment, but result in an underbite still being present after treatment, or the underbite has become worse. Some attempt to correct the underbite by cutting down and placing crowns on all the front teeth. This hides the underbite since the teeth location is still the same but their shape is thicker to simulate a fixed underbite. The teeth will have decreased longevity and also compromise their long-term health since the teeth are shaved down. Here at Manoa Dental, we can treat your underbite without surgery and without extraction. Our unique method will move the teeth to its correct bite which will correct the jaw alignment, developed the midface for facial balance, and correct the underbite.
When we treat your underbite, we can not only correct the underbite itself but can develop the midface, resolve functional issues just as TMJ disorder and airway, but give you not only a straight bite but facial balance and beauty, opened airway and healthy TMJ. Contact us to find out how we can help you!