Image Dental Blog


Friday, March 11, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Underbites

When it comes to achieving and maintaining a beautiful smile, some people have more difficulty than others, especially those growing up with an orthodontic issue. In the past, getting rid of an underbite was a tedious task. But with incredible developments in dentistry, such problems can be easily corrected, giving about 10 percent of the American population born with an inherited underbite the opportunity to achieve a beautiful smile.
So, What is an Underbite?
malocclusion underbite correction
A true underbite occurs when the upper front teeth are set behind the lower teeth, and the lower jaw is bigger than the upper one.
Clinically referred to as prognathism, the severity of the malocclusion or “bad bite” can vary between a mild, almost non-intrusive underbite – where the overlap between the two sets of teeth is minimal, and a severe situation wherein the gap is so wide that the two rows of teeth cannot meet at all.
In the latter case, it can give the impression that you are expressing an emotion that is not intended (with the lower lip pushed forward), creating a common social issue that many would prefer to rectify.
Complications of an Underbite
An underbite is a hereditary condition characterized by a misaligned lower jaw that is already present at birth, though the US National Library of Medicine suggests that the condition can also develop from conditions like acromegaly or gigantism.
The problems resulting from an underbite depend on the extent of the misalignment. Children and adults with a wide gap may have:
·         Challenges with speaking
·         Eating difficulties
·         Chronic jaw or joint pain (TMJ)
·         Head and ear aches
·         Excessive wear of tooth enamel resulting in tooth decay
·         Chronic mouth breathing, bacterial infections, and halitosis
·         Sleep apnea, snoring  and other sleep breathing disorders
Besides these, children with an underbite can face judgment and discrimination from classmates. So, it is important that parents try to find solutions as early as possible.
Correcting an Underbite
There are a number of methods for correcting an underbite, from the use of orthodontic appliances to jaw surgery. Usually appliances are recommended when the patient is young, from the age of 7 years, with the most common corrective appliances being:
·         The “reverse-pull” face mask – it looks like braces headgear, since it wraps around the child’s heat, with metal bands attached to the upper back teeth in order to pull the upper jaw outwards, and into position.
·         An upper jaw expander – a wire-frame device that is fitted across the patient’s palate. The expander is widened every night by a small amount every night – using a special key – causing the upper jaw to widen enough to meet the lower teeth. It is usually worn for one year and then replaced with a retainer.

Orthognathic surgery is only used in extreme cases or older patients, whereby the lower jaw is repositioned further back, together with the teeth. Alternatively, patients can opt for a facelift procedure to make the condition less noticeable and improve jaw functionality.
Your orthodontist in Newport Beach helps patients correct their underbites, as well as other malocclusions.

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