Underbites, or prognathism, are a common orthodontic malocclusion that occurs when the lower teeth overlap the top teeth.
Orthodontic issues can make it difficult to maintain a healthy smile. These issues don’t only affect the aesthetics of a smile, but can also lead to oral health issues if not taken care of. But orthodontic treatment can help all patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles.
Underbites, or prognathism, are a common orthodontic malocclusion that occurs when the lower teeth overlap the top teeth. For most patients, this happens because of a misaligned lower jaw. It should not be overlooked because it can cause several problems, including:
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- TMJ pain, as well as earaches and headaches
- Tooth decay caused by excessive and abnormal wear
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Bacterial infections
- Snoring and sleep apnea
There are a variety of treatments available for underbites, ranging from surgery to orthodontic treatment. If orthodontic treatment begins when the patient is young and the jaw is still growing, surgery can often be avoided and orthodontic appliances can adequately correct the underbite.
Children should visit an orthodontist for the first time around the age of seven to ensure that any necessary treatment can begin at precisely the right time to have the most impact and more involved treatments, such as surgery, can be avoided.
We typically use one of two different corrective appliances for our younger patients:
- Palatal expanders are wire frame devices that fit across the palate and utilize a special “key” to widen the palate over time. Every night the key will be turned until the desired expansion has been reached. Palatal expanders can be worn for about a year.
- A reverse pull face mask is similar to headgear. The facemask will wrap around the head and work to pull the upper jaw into the correct position. It utilizes metal bands fastened to the upper back teeth.
In very severe cases or in patients whose jaws have stopped growing, orthognathic jaw surgery may be required to correct the underbite.