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Every mouth looks different, and people aren’t born with perfect alignment. But normally, the upper teeth should fit just over the lower teeth, with the tips of the upper molars fitting into the grooves of the lower ones. 

If your teeth fit together differently, you may have what’s called malocclusion, of which there are three different types:

  • Class 1 malocclusion is when your bite is normal but there is a slight overlap of the lower and upper teeth
  • Class 2 malocclusion, also called retrognathism or overbite, is when your upper jaw and teeth severely overlap your bottom jaw and teeth
  • Class 3 malocclusion, also called prognathism or underbite, is when your lower jaw sticks out farther than your upper jaw and teeth, causes them to overlap

The third type, underbites, can range from mild to severe. In some cases, they may not even be noticeable. Other cases may require treatment.

What Causes Underbites? 

Underbites have multiple causes. Most often, they are hereditary and passed down through families. Other causes include:

  • Birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate
  • Childhood habits, such as sucking your thumb or prolonged pacifier use 
  • Fillings, crowns, retainers, or braces that don’t fit properly
  • A severe injury to the jaw
  • Mouth or jaw tumors 

Are Underbites Bad?

For the most part, teeth that are slightly misaligned don’t require medical treatment. However, underbites can be more than a cosmetic issue, and correcting one can provide ample benefits — especially when the case is severe. 

One issue associated with underbites is a bulldog-like appearance. Aesthetics alone may cause enough of a psychological impact that a person may want correction. 

Underbites can cause other problems, as well, such as: 

  • Speaking challenges
  • Trouble biting and chewing food
  • Pain in the mouth and face due to jaw misalignment 

Having an underbite can also increase your risk of:

  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Breaking a tooth
  • Experiencing pain from temporomandibular disorders

Are Underbites Treatable?

There are several different treatment options available for correcting an underbite, and the earlier it is treated, the better. Determining which treatment plan is right for you depends on the severity of your underbite. 

For Minor Cases

Dentists can use dental appliances such as wire or plastic braces to move your teeth into better positioning. If overcrowding is contributing to your underbite, another option is to remove one or more of your lower teeth. Lastly, a dentist may want to shave down or smooth out any teeth that stick out. 

For Severe Cases

In severe cases, your dentist might suggest undergoing surgery, such as bilateral split osteotomy. This surgery involves cutting through your jawbone and moving it backward.

How a Las Vegas Orthodontist Can Help

Because the symptoms and severity of underbites vary greatly, it is up to you whether or not you receive treatment. However, correcting an underbite can: 

  • Decrease your risk of developing more serious conditions
  • Reduce strain on your jaw and facial muscles
  • Make it easier to keep your teeth healthy and clean
  • Improve your appearance

Contact Hansen Orthodontics today to find out how we can help treat your underbite.