Treating Underbites Using Braces and Other Options
By Kellyn Hodges on March 25, 2013
Having teeth that are straight and properly aligned is not only great for dental aesthetics: it's also important for optimal dental health and general well-being. That why's many people seek the help of a Philadelphia orthodontist when they are dealing with serious cases of malocclusion. One particular issue that many patients face is an underbite. Our team would like to take a few moments right now to look at what underbites are and how they can be effectively treated.
What is an underbite?
An underbite refers to a situation in which a person's lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw, causing the lower arch of teeth to be positioned in front of the upper arch of teeth. Ideally the upper arch should be in front of the lower arch. It's estimated that underbites affect between 5% to 10% of the world's population, and generally people of Asian decent. Our orthodontic specialists serving Philadelphia are well-equipped to address these matters when they arise.
Some of the most common causes of underbites include:
- Jaw bone problems and abnormalities
- Bad habits when chewing or biting
Problems Associated with Underbites
Some of the most common problems associated with underbites include:
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw pain
- TMJ disorders
- Increased wear on teeth
- Increased chance of tooth decay and gum disease
- Speech impediments
- Altered facial aesthetics
- Poor tooth alignment
How are underbites treated?
The best treatment for underbites will be determined by a number of factors related to the severity of the underbite and the age of the patient. Generally the use of Philadelphia braces is not always effective since the issue is more related to lower jaw position rather than the teeth in the lower dental arch. In cases where the teeth alone are the cause of the underbite, braces will be able to address the issue.
Underbites are best addressed at an early age when a child is still growing, usually between the ages of 5 to 10. The most ideal treatments for underbites for children include:
- Chin caps - A chin cap is a device worn around the lower jaw area to prevent further growth, movement, and protrusion of the lower jaw.
- Upper jaw expanders - The upper jaw expander is used in cases where the lower jaw is outgrowing the upper jaw. The expander fits in the roof of the patient's mouth and helps increase the size of the upper dental arch so that the lower jaw and upper jaw are properly positioned.
- Reverse-pull face masks - The reverse-pull face mask uses rubber bands and a mouthpiece for the upper jaw. The gradual pressure/tension is meant to promote forward projection of the upper jaw so that it's positioned ahead of the lower jaw.
More invasive treatments such as jaw surgery will be required to treat an underbite in older patients, particularly adults.
What option is right for me or my child?
As you can see, there are different ways that underbites can be addressed. The best way to find out how your needs can be met is to meet with our orthodontists serving Philadelphia. We'd be more than happy to go over all of these options during your consultation.
Learn More About State-of-the-Art Orthodontic Care
For more information about braces and other options for effective orthodontic care, be sure to contact our orthodontic treatment centers serving Philadelphia today. The entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you make the best possible choices regarding your overall dental health.