A beautiful smile can go a long way in providing you with confidence. When your teeth are misaligned, you may find yourself hiding your smile, which can leave a negative impression on those around you.
One such dental issue that can impact the appearance of your mouth is an underbite.
WHAT IS AN UNDERBITE?
With a normal jaw, your upper teeth slightly overlap your lower teeth. An underbite is a malocclusion, or bad bite, in which your lower teeth overlap those on top. Underbites range in severity, from mild (teeth barely out of alignment) to severe (a wide gap between your two sets of teeth).
Typically, an underbite is caused by a misalignment of the lower jaw, which is present at birth. It can also develop as a result of gigantism or acromegaly. It can also simply be the result of genetics.
COMPLICATIONS CAUSED BY AN UNDERBITE
Even if your underbite is mild, it can still cause complications. These include:
• Trouble eating and speaking.
• TMJ disorder.
• Excessive tooth wear.
• Tooth decay.
• Mouth breathing (which can lead to dry mouth).
• Sleep apnea.
CORRECTING AN UNDERBITE
No matter how mild your underbite, it should be treated. The severity, however, affects your treatment plan. For younger patients, especially, orthodontic appliances are often the treatment method of choice. Two of the most common appliances are an upper jaw expander and a “reverse-pull” face mask. The upper jaw expander is placed across the palate.
A key is used every day to gradually widen the upper jaw. The reverse-pull face mask resembles headgear, and works to pull the upper jaw back into the correct position.
In more severe underbite cases, oral surgery may be required. During this procedure, the oral surgeon separates bone in the back of the jaw from bone in the front and alters it, allowing the lower jaw to be repositioned.
If an underbite is affecting your smile, your quality of life and your confidence, contact our office about which treatment options are right for you.