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Home / Blog / Braces / How To Fix An Underbite

How To Fix An Underbite

Medically reviewed by Dr Minoo Ghamari  / Jul 04, 2024  
Medically reviewed by Dr Minoo Ghamari  
Jul 04, 2024  
How To Fix An Underbite

Have you noticed that your jaw protrudes outwards along your bottom teeth? Do you feel like your chin is too far forward to be in proper alignment with the rest of your face? Then there's a good chance you might have an underbite, which is otherwise known as an anterior crossbite malocclusion. Underbites can be both minor and major, and the severity of your underbite will determine the treatment plan we offer you.

Here at Gorgeous Smiles, we want to make sure you get the best treatment options offered to you for your underbite, whether that be a more traditional route or an alternative not many dentists offer. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about your underbite!

Why do underbites occur?

There are many reasons why an underbite might occur, and not all of them are avoidable. Let's look at some of these now:

  • Genetic factors: Some children are born with a genetic predisposition that will cause them to grow into an underbite as they get older, and while some children outgrow underbites, others suffer from them into adulthood

  • Poor oral habits: In some cases, people have developed underbites after excessive nail biting, pencil chewing, thumb sucking or thrusting, and more

  • Premature loss of teeth: When children lose their teeth too early, their jaws can become misaligned causing an underbite

  • Trauma: Facial injuries and trauma can cause an underbite, especially when the jaw is pushed out of alignment due to the blunt force; injuries can also cause things like tumours, cysts, and abscesses, which can also lead to underbites

  • Misaligned teeth: Misaligned teeth can also create an underbite through a functional shift of the jaw

How to fix an underbite?

An underbite is otherwise known as a class III malocclusion, and that can sound worrying to anyone who's suffering through it! However, the good news is that there are plenty of treatment options, as it's absolutely possible to fix an underbite as long as you keep up with your dentist appointments. Some minor cases can be treated with simple fixes such as facemask therapy and braces. However, more severe underbite treatment might include surgery and reshaping of the jaw. Sounds tough, but the results are always worth it!

Let's take a look at some of the best options for fixing an underbite:

Braces

When you come to us with an underbite, the chances are that we'll recommend braces because it's one of the most effective methods of pulling the upper teeth forward and the lower teeth backwards, fixing the misalignment within the treatment time. We know you're probably worried about the appearance and cost of braces, but fortunately, there are multiple types of braces so you can choose the best option for you.

Traditional braces

Traditional braces are made from metal and they're the most commonly offered for both children and adults. They use metal brackets that are bonded to your teeth and attached together with flexible wire and elastic bands. These can be used to straighten teeth as well as fix an underbite because we'll put two elastic bands at the back of the braces to link them, which will gently guide the upper and lower jaws together to reduce the underbite.

The main reason why people don't like the idea of traditional braces is because they're dark in colour and can obviously be seen when you smile and talk. While this isn't such an issue for children, this can severely impact adults in terms of their self esteem and professionalism. However, they're the cheapest type of brace and the strongest, meaning they might be able to fix your underbite in the shortest time possible.

Lingual braces

As we said, many adults don't like the thought of wearing traditional braces for years when they're so intrusive of their smiles. However, we're happy to introduce you to the idea of lingual braces, which is where the metal brackets are bonded to the back of your teeth rather than the front. This means that, while you're still wearing metal braces, you won't be able to see them when you talk or smile. They work in the exact same way, with us attaching elastic bands to pull the upper jaw forward to fix the misalignment.

Lingual braces are excellent for people who want a less intrusive alternative to metal braces, but there are some drawbacks that come with them. For starters, they're more expensive so they're not always recommended to patients conscious of their budget. Some patients also note that they're more painful and can create speech problems for the initial few weeks when they're wearing them.

Ceramic braces

Lastly, an alternative to metal braces is to use the ceramic alternative. These work and operate exactly like traditional braces with brackets and wire, but rather than being made from metal, they're made from ceramic. This makes the braces coloured similarly to your teeth, making them much less obviously seen when you're talking. We'll use elastic bands at the back of the braces to pull the upper jaw to meet the lower jaw to fix an underbite, all without the dark-coloured brackets and wires!

While many patients like the idea of ceramic braces more than traditional alternatives because they're less invasive, it's important that you know ceramic braces tend to be weaker. We often see them breaking more frequently than metal braces, which can delay your treatment while you wait for the appointments to keep fixing the braces.

To keep learning more about braces and your options, keep reading here.

Facemask therapy

Another option available to you might be facemask therapy, which is often best used for mild underbites only. The facemask works to pull the upper and lower jaws together by wearing it for at least 12 hours a day. As you can imagine, this is the major drawback of facemask therapy - you'll need to wear it for half the day for it to become effective. It's one of the best treatment options for younger patients, but you might also be given it as an adult if we think it'll be a good fit for your personal underbite. You may also need to pair the facemask with braces for the most effective treatment option.

Invisalign

Invisalign isn't always the best option for improving an underbite, but it can be beneficial when your underbite is due to improper teeth positioning. Once the invisible aligners have straightened your teeth, your underbite might be able to fix itself on its own - no further treatment necessary!

It's also possible to use elastic bands at the back of the clear aligners in some cases, which can fix an underbite through gentle pressure. However, it's not the best option and not one we recommend often.

Despite that, on the off-chance you're able to use Invisalign to fix your underbite, you'll need to make sure you use them exactly as they should be, which is for 22 hours a day with swapping out the trays every two weeks to keep up with your tooth movement.

To learn more about Invisalign, keep reading here.

Orthognathic jaw surgery

When you have a severe underbite that seems too far gone for braces and facemask therapy alone, you might be offered jaw surgery instead. Unfortunately, unlike many jaw surgeries that we often see, you can't expect to see results within one day. Most patients find that their treatment ends between two and three years, with there being multiple stages to go through before completing the surgery.

The first stage involves aligning your teeth in preparation for the surgery, which, more often than not, involves braces and takes around 18 months. Once the teeth are straight and ready, you can be taken into surgery for the realignment. We often see patients remaining in hospital for two days after the surgery and the recovery takes between four and six weeks. After you're discharged, you'll need to wear a retainer for at least six months to make sure your teeth don't move into their original positions.

In rare cases, a surgical procedure may be needed where your jaw needs to be broken and wired shut while it heals in the proper alignment. Surgery is an incredibly invasive option and one that is reserved for severe underbites only. We only recommend it when there's no other option.

Final thoughts

An underbite can be uncomfortable and knock your self confidence, so we want to help you get it fixed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there's no easy fix for underbites, so each treatment plan will take a while for you to see results. Minor underbites are often fixable with facemask therapy and braces, and even a more severe underbite should be fixable with braces alone. However, if the gap between your upper jaw and lower teeth is too far for braces to fix, you might need underbite surgery. Orthognathic jaw surgery is an invasive option and reserved for only the most severe underbites, but the results can be life changing. Talk to your dentist sooner rather than later to get the ball rolling on your underbite treatment as soon as possible!

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