Ever notice how a bulldog has its lower jaw protruding forward? This is an underbite, and it is named as such because the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth, and it also results in a prominent jaw. Underbites can be hereditary, or caused by thumb sucking, poor chewing habits, or an overdeveloped lower jaw and/or an underdeveloped upper jaw. Treatment to correct an underbite depends on the age of the patient. As with most orthodontic issues, it is best to treat it as soon as it is feasible, and it best to correct an underbite at a young age. An underbite can cause speech disorders, chewing problems, poor oral hygiene, and low self-esteem. As with other orthodontic problems, the treatment for children and adults is usually different because the jaw is already developed in adults.
Treatment For Kids Could Potentially Include:
- A palatal expander that is worn on the upper jaw to widen the space. A key is placed into a small “keyhole” and is turned at intervals suggested by Dr. Anthony Lovrovich. This will widen the jaw until it aligns with the lower jaw
- A reverse-pull face mask—this apparatus resembles a catcher’s face mask, and it aids the upper jaw in aligning with the lower jaw by pulling it forward
- Chin cap—this device, as the name implies, is worn on the chin and restricts or redirects the lower jaw during the growth period
The apparatuses above can be used alone or in combination with each other. Braces will most likely be introduced at some point. Dr. Anthony Lovrovich will determine the best course of treatment for your child’s underbite.
In adults, treatment depends on the severity of the underbite. If braces alone cannot fix the problem, then it will require surgery. Surgery options include being sectioning or moving the upper jaw forward, removing a section of the lower jaw to bring the teeth back, or a combination of of the two options. The surgeon may also integrate rubber bands and wires, screws and/or surgical plates to keep the jaw in place during healing. Surgery may sound daunting and is time-consuming, but the outcome will result in a properly aligned jaw, better chewing habits, improved facial symmetry, and better self-esteem.