What is an underbite and how to fix an underbite

If you have an underbite, there's plenty you can do to bring out a better smile while improving your overall health. Some underbites don't cause problems. But if your case is more severe, underbite correction with a treatment process such as Invisalign clear aligners could help you move forward with confidence.

So, what is an underbite, what causes an underbite and what are the complications of having one? We take a closer look at this orthodontic problem so you can find out how to fix an underbite with the right treatment for you.

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What is an underbite?

An underbite is when you close your mouth and the lower jaw protrudes forward. This causes the lower jaw and teeth to sit in front of the upper teeth. An underbite is a type of malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth). Other types of malocclusions include overbites, crossbites, gap teeth (diastema), crooked teeth, teeth crowding and overlapping teeth.

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What can cause an underbite?

Genetics

Have you ever heard of the Habsburg jaw? Generations of the Habsburgs, a European royal family, were known for their protruding underbite jaws. That's because people with underbites generally inherit them from their parents.

Nature and nurture

Environmental factors and preventable habits can lead to underbite symptoms. Some of the cases outlined below cause the tongue to rest against the lower jaw and front teeth, making the jaw move forward over time:

  • the constant thrusting of the tongue against teeth
  • mouth breathing due to allergies, nasal congestion or habit
  • poor eating and chewing habits.

 

Ethnicity

Some ethnic groups are more prone to developing an underbite than others. According to the UCSF School of Dentistry's Department of Orofacial Sciences, Chinese and Malaysian populations show a relatively higher prevalence of an underbite while Indian populations show a relatively lower prevalence compared to other races.

Underbite Complications

Underbite complications may affect both your physical and mental wellbeing. Even if you don't have underbite symptoms, you should consider how to fix an underbite to prevent issues.

Common underbite symptoms and complications

  • Misaligned teeth caused by protruding bite pressure.
  • Tooth decay and breakage where the misaligned bite erodes the enamel.
  • Chronic mouth breathing and bad breath (halitosis).
  • Chewing and swallowing difficulties. Underbite speech problems such as lisping and slurring.
  • Change to the appearance of face structure, presenting as a jutting-out chin, resulting in possible low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.

Different types of underbites

  • Slight or mild underbite – the two rows of teeth almost meet edge-to-edge.
  • Severe or extreme underbite – the front teeth don't meet at all because the gap is so wide.
  • Dental underbite – which relates to placement of teeth in dental arches.
  • Skeletal underbite – misalignment of the underlying jaw structure.

See what's causing your underbite for more information.

How to fix an Underbite

Regardless of type or severity, underbites don’t reverse on their own, so you will need to consider how to fix an underbite by seeking professional treatment. There are many underbite correction treatment options available for children, teens and adults. We recommend you find a doctor who can examine your case and explain the underbite correction options and treatment process to you.

If you've identified an underbite in your child and you're concerned about symptoms, consider early orthodontic screening to discuss how to fix an underbite in the least evasive way.

Available underbite correction treatment methods for younger children

Reverse-pull face mask: this underbite headgear wraps around the head and pulls the upper jaw forward using metal bands fixed to the back upper teeth. Chin cap: wraps from the chin to the crown of the head and restrains the growth of the lower jaw.

How to fix an underbite without surgery

A majority of the underbite correction treatments outlined above are non-surgical methods. However, in severe underbite cases, you may need to combine surgery with Invisalign treatment. We recommend you always refer to your treating doctor for treatment, diagnosis and discussion.

Available underbite treatment methods for teens and adults

The Invisalign system – uses a series of clear, removable plastic trays (aligners) that fit over the teeth. The aligners are custom-made and changed approximately every two weeks to move teeth into the desired position during the treatment process.
Traditional braces – metal or ceramic brackets and wire use the force of pressure to move underbite teeth over time.
Tooth extraction – can help relieve the pressure of overcrowding in dental underbite correction cases.
Cosmetic facelift dentistry – a new method that reshapes the lower teeth and fits veneers to the uppers in mild underbite cases.
Jaw surgery – used in severe underbite cases where the cause is skeletal. Surgery repositions the jaw by either pushing the lower jaw back or pulling the upper jaw forward.

 

Can Invisalign clear aligners fix an underbite?

Yes, Invisalign clear aligners can fix some underbite teeth. It all depends on what's causing your underbite, and that's something an experienced Invisalign doctor can help you uncover. If, for example, your underbite is a dental issue caused by overcrowding, then Invisalign aligners could fix your problem effectively.

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Benefits of correcting an underbite using braces versus Invisalign treatment

If you're considering braces versus Invisalign treatment to correct an underbite in adults or teens, you could benefit from the Invisalign system's many advantages:

  • virtually invisible when compared to traditional braces
  • cost a similar amount to braces at some practices
  • freedom to enjoy the foods you love without restrictions
  • effective gradual teeth movement with less pain
  • flexibility to easily remove your aligners
  • fewer doctor visits compared to braces
  • individually mapped digital treatment plan, indicating the duration of your treatment
  • better maintenance of oral health because you can remove your aligners to brush and floss properly.

How to start your journey towards underbite correction with Invisalign treatment

 

  1. Take our free Smile Assessment to see if our Invisalign treatment is right for your underbite teeth.
  2. Find a doctor near you using our easy search tool, and request an appointment with our Invisalign Smile Concierge team.
  3. Start the Invisalign treatment process for underbite correction with the world's most advanced clear aligners.

 

We look forward to hearing about your journey and seeing your successful results!