Underbite Correction without Surgery
Underbites, also known as malocclusion, affect a small minority of people. By some estimates less than 10 percent of the population has a lower jaw that protrudes farther than the upper. Dentists call this jaw relationship “mandibular prognathism,” which causes the lower teeth to overlap the upper teeth when the mouth is closed. Most individuals are genetically predisposed to develop an underbite, but there are other factors that can cause the condition, including:
- Abnormal jaw bone growth
- Persistent thumb-sucking as a child
- Poor chewing habits
- Ethnic background – Asians have higher rates of underbites
Correcting an underbite in a timely manner is important, because if left untreated for many years, malocclusion can lead to numerous complications such as difficulty with speech and chewing; increased wear on tooth enamel; chronic jaw pain; the development of TMJ disorder; sleep apnea; increased chances of tooth decay and oral health problems; and low self-esteem.
Underbite correction treatments
While it’s true that bite alignment is seldom perfect, those who suffer from severe underbite are often faced with physical and cosmetic challenges. Early screening in children is the easiest way to detect underbites, which can be corrected without surgery using specially designed dental appliances.
Small children who show the beginning signs of an underbite may benefit from a specially-designed reverse pull strap that resembles orthodontic head gear. Utilizing metal bands that are affixed to the back upper teeth, the strap gently moves the upper jaw structure back into a correct position. The mask must be worn for at least 3-4 hours each day.
Another non-surgical method for underbite correction in younger patients is a dental chin cap that helps control the growth of the lower jaw and chin.
One of the most common treatments for mild underbites is an upper jaw expander that is custom fit by an orthodontist. This wire appliance is fit across the roof of the patient’s mouth and, each day, the expander is widened by small increments to help correct teeth alignment. In most cases, the jaw expander must be worn for at least 12 months, after which time a retainer can be used.
Cosmetic dentistry treatments for underbites
Correcting an underbite is much easier in children while the jaw bone is still forming. In the past, the only treatment option for adults with a moderate to severe underbite was 12-20 months of braces (either metal or clear Invisalign) followed by invasive orthognathic jaw surgery. However, cosmetic dentists have developed new methods to reshape the appearance of the lower teeth in a way that improves both aesthetics and functionality.
The good news is that underbites can be permanently addressed at any age! To learn more about your options, we invite you to call Chelsea Dental Aesthetics and schedule a private consultation with Dr. David Blaustein, a highly trained NYC cosmetic dentist with more than 20 years of experience.
Request a consultation online or by calling 347-773-2764.
Underbite correction resources:
- Colgate, Types Of Underbite Correction Treatment And How To Choose http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/cosmetic-dentistry/early-orthodontics/article/types-of-underbite-correction-treatment-and-how-to-choose-0215
- DentalHealthMD, Underbite http://www.dentalhealthmed.com/conditions/underbite.html
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