Underbite: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

If you have an underbite, you're not alone. Underbites occur in approximately 4 percent of the population. While several factors can cause them, most underbites are simply the result of facial genetics and cannot be prevented.

Overbites are far more common than underbites. According to the Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research, underbites affect only about 1% of the world's population.
Underbites can be treated using a variety of methods to correct underbites, so you don't have to live with this condition if you don't want to. We'll discuss the causes and symptoms of underbites and the various treatment options available. We hope this information will help you make the best decision.

What is an underbite?

An underbite is a dental condition in which the lower teeth protrude more than the upper teeth. It is usually caused by a jaw misalignment. This is referred to as a Class III malocclusion.

Underbites are not all the same. There are various levels. In a mild case, you might not notice it from the outside. In severe cases, the jaw protrudes so far that it is visible to others.

Underbites are more than just a cosmetic problem. They can wreak havoc on your teeth and jaw. In severe cases, you may even struggle to speak properly. An underbite can aggravate the wear and tear on your front teeth. As a result, they are much more susceptible to chipping or breaking. You may also have difficulty chewing food if your jaw is not aligned correctly.

How Underbite Can Affect Your Health

An underbite can impact your health in a variety of ways. It can not only have a mental impact on you, but it can also affect how you sleep. Underbite can also have the following consequences.

Sleep Apnea:

This is a condition where you stop breathing at different points throughout the night. There are various conditions associated with sleep apnea, one of them being an overbite. If you suffer from this condition and don’t sleep well you will be tired during the day which could affect your performance at school or work.

People with sleep apnea can, in some cases, be fitted with a special apparatus to help them breathe.

Mouth breathing and Chronic bad breath:

Having an underbite can cause heavy snoring and mouth breathing. Underbites can also cause a bacterial infection to develop in the mouth, which can then cause bad breath. This, of course, is bad for your social life and can cause minor to major social discomfort and anxiety.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD):

Underbites can cause problems with your temporomandibular joint; this is the hinge that connects your skull to your jaw. People who get TMD might feel like it’s locked in one position, or you might hear a popping sound as you try to open and close your jaw. This condition can be painful or feel like pressure.

Increased Risk for Tooth Decay

Because of the degree of misalignment, an underbite increases the risk of dental enamel damage. Cavities are more prone to develop as the enamel wears away.

What are the causes of underbites?

There are a number of different causes of underbites:

  • Genetics: Your teeth' shape and size and how they grow are primarily influenced by your parents or relatives. If someone in your family has had an underbite, it's likely a genetic condition.
  • Tumour: The growth of a tumour can shift or misalign your jaw.
  • Injury: An injury or trauma to your jaw can cause it to break. If your jaw doesn't heal properly, this can cause an underbite.
  • Bad habits in childhood: Behaviours like sucking your thumb, using a pacifier and bottle feeding can cause the jaw to change shape. These behaviours are common for children. This doesn't often cause issues if they're done in moderation.

What Are The Different Underbite Treatments

Fortunately, most underbites can be treated with standard orthodontic techniques. Some cases may necessitate surgery.

Treatments are often most effective when administered during childhood and the pre-adolescent years. When it is still growing, the jaw is somewhat malleable. Adults can be successfully treated for underbite, but surgery is frequently required. The severity of the condition determines the treatment required to correct your underbite.

Treatments may include:

  • Braces: In mild cases, braces can not just help straighten your teeth but also realign your jaw. You will possibly have to wear a retainer once the braces are removed. This will help keep the new shape.
  • Facemask therapy: A facemask is a mechanism that gets worn on your face and rests on your forehead and chin. It's to pull your upper jaw forward in order to realign both the upper and lower sections of the jaw. To achieve this, elastics are attached to your upper jaw and then to the device.  Facemask therapy treatment requires commitment and typically needs to be worn for 16 hours or more per day for about a year. It's most successful with younger children aged eight and under, and it can also work for teenagers.
  • Elastics: This treatment has the same premise as facemask therapy. The elastics are attached to mini-plates anchored in the skull and worn on the inside of your mouth to pull the upper jaw forward to create balance.

An underbite is treatable and should be done so by your trusted orthodontist to get the correct treatment.

Orthodontic Treatments For Underbite

Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign, may be used to correct a mild underbite. In children, "pseudo" class III underbite can be treated with braces and/or tooth extractions if lower teeth are in front of upper teeth but jaw growth is normal.


Braces are most commonly used to treat underbite in children.

Invisalign or other active aligners for a Class III underbite in children may work, but tooth extractions are likely.

Never use active aligners at home to correct an underbite. To ensure that the jaws are properly aligned, your orthodontist should supervise treatment.

Your orthodontist may recommend headgear in addition to or instead of braces. Metal bands attached to the upper back teeth and wrapped around the head of a reverse-pull face mask are used to pull the jaw into place.

An upper jaw expander may also be prescribed for your child. An upper jaw expander is a plastic and wire device that is attached to the roof of the mouth and is expanded daily by turning a key. The palate expands over the course of a year to correct the bite.

Upper Jaw Expander For Underbites

Upper jaw expanders have a screw in the centre that fits over a few back teeth in the upper jaw. An RPE can be activated by slowly twisting the screw each day, creating tension between the two palatal bones.

The purpose is to enlarge the dental arch, broaden the maxilla (upper jaw), and shift the teeth within the bone. The jaw expands throughout time. Treatment for palatal enlargement usually takes 3 to 6 months.

Jaw Surgery For Underbites

Jaw surgery for an underbite is costly, but it may be essential in extreme situations, such as fully formed adults. An in-depth examination, X-rays, and the administration of general anaesthetic are all part of the surgery. The patient's jawbone is then cut, reshaped, and repositioned by an oral surgeon.

Orthognathic surgery, commonly known as jaw surgery, necessitates orthodontic therapy as well as collaboration between the orthodontist and the oral surgeon.

What Are Some of The Possible Consequences of Having an Underbite Untreated?

It is recommended that underbites and overbites should always be treated and addressed. Severe discomfort, jaw issues, and dental diseases might develop if they are not treated. The following are some of the most common side effects of an untreated underbite.

  • Speaking (lisps and slurred speech), chewing, and swallowing difficulties.
  • Gum disease is more likely to occur.
  • Changes in the structure of the mouth and grin.
  • Teeth that are crooked or irregular.
  • Even after brushing or rinsing with mouthwash, you have bad breath.
  • Low self-esteem and poor mental health.

Treating Underbite in Children

Traditionally, children with underbite are not treated until they reach the age of seven. However, an orthodontic evaluation between the ages of 2 and 5 may enable us to correct the growth issues that are causing the underbite before more drastic treatment is required.

If your child's underbite interferes with eating, speaking, or breathing, or if he or she was born with a birth defect, surgery may be required sooner than usual.

Because an underbite can make dental hygiene more difficult, keep an eye on your child's brushing and flossing habits. Early signs of cavities or gum disease, such as bleeding gums, should be kept an eye out for.

Prevention methods (Tips) for avoiding underbites in children

  • Keep an eye on their habit of sucking their thumbs- Thumb sucking over an extended period of time might cause biting difficulties. The teeth are subjected to a great deal of pressure as a result of this motion. It might cause the top teeth to protrude and become more noticeable over time.
  • Keep an eye on your child's breathing - Proper face and jaw growth are aided by breathing via the nose. Breathing through the mouth has a number of drawbacks. When the mouth is closed, it frequently causes the jaws to be misaligned. Mouth breathing disrupts the physiological balance of growth. 
  • Avoid using a bottle for an extended period of time - Tooth alignment troubles can be caused by using a bottle on a regular basis or for an extended period of time. Because the shape of the mouth has altered, the repeated sucking movement might restrict the roof of the mouth, causing teeth alignment issues.
  • Avoid using a pacifier for an extended period of time - The use of a pacifier for an extended period of time might cause the top and bottom teeth to misalign. By the time a child reaches the age of two, pacifiers should be removed from their possession. Sucking a pacifier after this age has been linked to biting difficulties.
  • Stop the biting fingernails - The jaw muscles are put under a lot of strain when you bite your nails. Bite difficulties will develop as a result of this pressure. Furthermore, chewing your fingernails can cause damage to your teeth, further complicating matters.

The sooner you address an underbite, the better. If a child's underbite is not severe, parents should wait until he or she is at least seven years old before seeking orthodontic treatment. Permanent teeth begin to emerge at this time.

Underbite vs. Overbite

An overbite (retrognathism) is an orthodontic condition where the top front teeth protrude significantly beyond the lower teeth and jaw. It's the inverse of an underbite, in which the top teeth are behind the lower teeth.

An underbite and an overbite can make patients self-conscious, causing breathing, chewing, and speaking difficulties.

Is Underbite treatment covered by insurance?

Dental insurance usually covers underbite treatment if the insurance company believes it is medically necessary. Keep in mind that most dental insurance companies limit total coverage for the year to $1,000-$2,000, which may not cover extensive treatment for underbite.

If your insurance company (or your dentist) determines that your underbite treatment is purely cosmetic, the cost is unlikely to be covered.

Orthognathic surgery for underbite is a rare example of a dental treatment that is frequently covered in part by your medical insurance. If your doctor and dentist agree that your underbite is causing airway problems such as sleep apnea, your medical insurance may cover treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Underbite

In summary, as soon as possible. Consult your dentist as soon as you notice your child developing an underbite. This early intervention could save you money on orthodontics or surgery.

Otherwise, traditional underbite treatment works best between the ages of 5 and 10.

It is never too late to treat an underbite, and many of the painful and embarrassing complications can be reversed even later in life. Adult treatment has been shown to be effective in many cases.

An underbite does not make you look unattractive. Nonetheless, studies show that self-esteem may improve after underbite treatment, particularly in women.

Yes, even if you don't have any obvious problems, you should get your underbite fixed.

An underbite frequently causes major problems throughout the body, ranging from headaches to indigestion. This is more than just a cosmetic procedure; your oral health has an impact on your overall wellness and quality of life.