There’s nothing quite like lighting up a room with a beautiful smile. It can feel amazing greeting friends, family, and even strangers when you feel good about your teeth.
A well-maintained smile can provide you with physical and emotional benefits like better digestion, reducing headaches, and boosting your confidence.
But problems with crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw can mean jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and trouble chewing or speaking.
Having the smile of your dreams isn’t always easy, especially if you suffer from an overbite or an underbite.
Ideally, your molars from the top and bottom of your teeth should fit together comfortably when you bite down. An underbite or overbite is a misalignment of your jaw that gets in the way of an even bite.
Each of these conditions is common, and usually easy to treat. But if left untreated, and underbite or overbite can present issues for your oral health down the line.
Discover what causes an overbite or underbite, how to fix them, and how TenBrook can help you take charge of your health with simple treatment options.
An overbite is a more common jaw misalignments issue in children and adults than an underbite.
Also known as Prognathism, an overbite is the protrusion of the jaw which causes the upper teeth to jut out past the lower teeth. You may have heard an overbite being referred to as “buck teeth.”
Overbite problems are often due to biological factors, like genetics or developments in the womb.
There’s also evidence that early childhood behavior is linked to developing an overbite. For example, excessive thumb-sucking and frequent usage of a pacifier after age 3 can cause misalignment of the jaw later in life.
For this reason, it’s important to bring your children to the orthodontist early so that your orthodontist can catch an overbite early. Noticeable overbites tend to develop in adults who didn’t receive braces or orthodontic intervention during their childhood.
In many cases, orthodontic intervention is the best way to fix an overbite.
Treatment options like braces are an effective way to correct an overbite, as well as clear aligners or upper jaw expanders.
The earlier you begin to treat an overbite the better, as less invasive treatment is available for children and is often more successful than fixing the issue in adulthood. But braces can also fix an overbite in adults, too.
There are some small ways to lessen the impact of a misaligned jaw at home. This includes overbite correction exercises like tongue thrusts, avoiding nail-biting, and wearing a mouth guard at night if you grind your teeth.
Keep in mind that you might not see immediate results trying to fix this yourself, but it may help you get rid of bad habits you’ve developed throughout your life.
For an extreme overbite, jaw surgery may be needed to move your jaw back into place after full development. That’s ages 14-16 for females, and ages 17-21 for males.
Unlike an overbite, this type of jaw misalignment is rarer.
Often called a “reverse bite,” an underbite is when your upper jaw is pushed backward, forcing your lower jaw to protrude forward. The result can make it appear like your lower jaw and lips are jutting outward.
People that suffer from severe underbites may also struggle with chewing, speaking, and may have intermittent pain around their mouth and face.
Childhood habits like thumb-sucking and pushing on your teeth with your tongue can sometimes cause an underbite. Doing these things frequently can interfere with how your teeth and mouth develop, forcing your teeth to grow in the wrong direction.
More often, however, underbites are passed down through genetics. Birth defects like a cleft lip or palate may also accompany severe underbites.
Other causes include head injuries, which can loosen your jaw and cause it to be misaligned when healing. Tumors or oral cancer along the jawline can also cause an underbite.
Fortunately, not all underbites need to be treated. All mouths are different, and slight misalignments can be normal.
Proper brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups will help you care for your teeth and prevent future damage and keep a minor underbite from getting any worse.
As severe underbites are less common among children and adults (5-10% of the American population), many won’t need to have a slight underbite corrected.
For some, wire braces or aligners can move the lower jaw back into place fairly easily.
In other instances, an orthodontist may have to remove teeth to fix crowding, and make more room in your mouth for proper jaw movement and comfort.
Children and toddlers with more serious underbites may need surgery to fix the jaw misalignment. This will be the case if their underbite interferes with their ability to eat, breathe, or speak.
Overbites and underbites are common oral health issues. They don’t always require medical attention, but when they do, it’s best left to the professionals.
Issues with your jaw can be painful and uncomfortable, and might leave you feeling less likely to want to show off your smile.
At TenBrook, our orthodontists can expertly fix underbites and overbites, and any other oral health issues you might have, like crooked teeth, cavities, and crowding.
Don’t let an overbite or underbite keep you from enjoying life. Take charge of your and your family’s oral health.