An underbite occurs when the lower jaw projects beyond the upper. At that point the bottom teeth will sit in front of the upper teeth in a closed mouth. This condition will affect between 5% and 10% of the population. It is the opposite of an overbite where the lower jaw sits too far behind the upper.
As in most conditions, an underbite can range from mild to severe. However, even a slight underbite can cause significant difficulties.
Most common complications will include:
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking and even breathing
- Tooth decay and breakage
- Gum disease and infections
- Altered facial appearance
- Low self esteem
When treatment is initiated as a child, the jaw can be more easily manipulated into proper alignment. There re a number of non-surgical and surgical options available to both children and adults to correct an underbite.
- Upper jaw expander
- Reverse-pull mask
- Chin cap
In adults, it is frequently found that more invasive treatments are required, although braces are still a primary option.
- Tooth extraction
- Oral surgery
Underbites can cause both physical and mental concerns, but it is fortunate that today underbites can be corrected, despite any severity of the condition.