Achieving and maintaining a beautiful smile takes a bit of care and work for everyone, but it can be more difficult for people who have grown up with an orthodontic issue like an underbite. But just because someone’s mouth has an inherent problem doesn’t mean it has to stay like that forever.
There has never been a more revolutionary period in dental procedures. Today, industry professionals are capable of making incredible improvements that were previously impossible. As a result, no matter your dental issue, you can have a stunning smile with the appropriate treatments! These include underbite correction.
The Basics of Underbites
An underbite, technically referred to as prognathism, occurs when a person’s lower teeth overlap his or her upper teeth when the jaw is clenched shut. It’s estimated that 1 out of 10 Americans is born with this condition, but the severity can vary drastically and may develop as the result of an outside condition or accident.
People with a pronounced underbite often experience the following:
- Difficulties eating
- Challenges with speaking and enunciating certain words
- Chronic jaw or joint pain leading to frequent headaches and earaches
- Chronic mouth breathing and bacterial infections
- Sleep apnea, snoring, and other overnight breathing issues
- Tooth decay due to the excessive and abnormal wearing of tooth enamel
Underbite Correction without Surgery
Thanks to new technologies, not all underbites require surgery. Today, most mild and moderate underbites can be effectively treated with nonsurgical orthodontic procedures. Children in particular are great candidates for nonsurgical underbite correction because their jaws will develop alongside the correction method.
For both children and adults, a combination of the following nonsurgical underbite treatments may be used:
- Upper Jaw Expander. This expanding device is fitted and placed at the roof of the patient’s mouth. During the course of the prescribed treatment, patients will use a special key to widen the upper jaw expander. This gradually increases the size of the patient’s dental arch to properly reposition the upper jaw’s bite over the lower jaw.
- Reverse Pull Face Mask. This is an upgraded version of traditional orthodontic head gear that can be taken off and put on as needed. When on, it wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the top back teeth. Over time, the mask pulls the upper jaw into the correct position.
- Chin Caps. Chin caps wrap around the chin and head to stop growth, movement, and protrusion of a patient’s lower jaw.
- Cosmetic Correction. For mild cases in adults, a “facelift” approach may be taken in which veneers are used to make the underbite less visible and improve lower and upper jaw functionality.
- Braces. Braces are generally used to secure and finalize a properly adjusted smile after the aforementioned steps have been taken.
Underbite Correction with Surgery
A person with a moderate or severe underbite may require surgical treatment to achieve the best underbite correction for his or her mouth. This is often a must for older adults whose jaws are fully developed and less malleable.
Most surgical procedures involve repositioning the lower jaw and pulling the upper jaw forward. As with the nonsurgical options, the orthodontist will most likely recommend braces, both before and after surgery, to achieve the best results. The braces may be made of traditional metal, ceramic, or the newer Invisalign materials and are often required for an average of one year throughout the course of the underbite correction.
For more information about these underbite correction procedures, contact us today!