An underbite is a dental condition characterised by the misalignment of the upper and lower front teeth. It is classified as a Class III malocclusion. Due to the way an underbite presents itself (lower teeth stick out in front of the upper front teeth), it can greatly impact the self esteem of patients depending on the severity. Some cases are mild and barely noticeable, while others are so severe the lower teeth protrude out by quite a fair degree.
An underbite is also more than just a cosmetic issue; if you have an underbite, you may find that you experience problems such as:
- Difficulty chewing and biting
- Mouth and/or face pain due to jaw misalignment
- Speech problems
What causes an underbite?
Several factors can cause an underbite, including:
Poor childhood habits
Childhood habits like excessive thumb sucking, using a pacifier after age three, long-term bottle feeding and pushing on the front teeth with the tongue (tongue thrusting) can increase the risk of developing an underbite.
Underbites affect between 5-10% of the population, and in most cases, they are inherited. If at least one person in your family has it, then you are more likely to get an underbite too. This is because genetics play a huge role in a person’s jaw, facial structure, tooth shape and size.
Injury or trauma
Injury or trauma to the face can cause permanent damage of the jawbones and misalignment of the jaw. While it’s possible to repair broken jawbones through surgery, they may not necessarily fit together properly, causing an underbite.
A tumour in the jaw or mouth can cause the jaw to protrude, resulting in an underbite.
Why should I fix my underbite?
The problems associated with an underbite can affect both mental and physical health. Here are some common issues faced:
Underbites are a lot less common than overbites, so patients with overbites tend to be noticed more. Apart from having misaligned upper and lower teeth, patients with overbites also have protruding chins, which may greatly affect self esteem especially in children.
In order to make certain sounds like “s” and “f”, your bottom and upper teeth must be aligned properly. If they don’t align as with an underbite, enunciating words with those letters can be difficult.
It can be harder to clean your teeth with an underbite. This bite condition can also cause problems such as rapid tooth wear, resulting in enamel damage. Due to poor oral hygiene and excessive tooth wear, teeth can decay faster.
When teeth are misaligned, a simple activity like chewing can become difficult. Patients with severe underbites are at a higher risk of choking as they cannot chew their food properly before swallowing.
Your jaw is constantly working to align your teeth. But when teeth don’t align back, it can lead to headaches and jaw pain. Patients with severe underbites are at risk of a painful joint condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), where the jaw feels ‘locked’ and can result in considerable pain in the jaw, popping sensations, toothaches and earaches.
Can Invisalign fix underbites?
Yes, Invisalign aligners can fix certain types of underbites. Contrary to popular belief, surgery and jaw expanders are not the only ways to fix underbites. However, severe underbites might require surgery to correct the position of the jaw before undergoing Invisalign treatment. When combined with other dental treatment plans, Invisalign can also work for class 3 underbites.
At Dental Designs, our dentists will first conduct an in-depth examination of your mouth and smile. This includes using a 3D scanner to take images and videos of your teeth from all angles. If you are a successful candidate for Invisalign, we will create a 3D mould of your teeth and get your aligners designed.
How long will Invisalign take to fix my underbite?
Treatment duration highly depends on the severity of your condition, level of misalignment and level of discipline. Regardless of your teeth condition, all Invisalign patients are required to wear their aligners for at least 22 hours daily. It is this adherence that will determine whether Invisalign treatment will be successful or not.
Generally, for minor cases, correction would take about 3-4 months, while moderately severe cases could take 12 months or slightly longer. Regardless, the time taken is still shorter than the time it takes to fix underbites with traditional braces.
Invisalign can help correct your underbite and improve your quality of life. If you have any questions, feel free to direct them to our team and we will try our best to help.
- Cakan, D. G., Ulkur, F., & Taner, T. U. (2012). The genetic basis of facial skeletal characteristics and its relation with orthodontics. European journal of dentistry, 6(3), 340–345. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3420844/
- Amodeo, G., Meuli, S., Carboni, A., Brugnami, F., Marrocco, S., Orsini, R., & Scopelliti, D. (2020). Surgery First and Invisalign System: Combined Digital Approach. The Journal of craniofacial surgery, 31(6), 1681–1686. https://doi.org/10.1097/SCS.0000000000006392