Understanding Underbite: Causes & How to Correct

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Understanding underbite can be a loaded topic. Yet, knowing the causes, types, and treatment options for underbites is vital for optimal oral health.

Everyone ought to have access to the answers they need to understand ideal correction methods and options for owning their best smile and healthy teeth. We want to help.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different aspects of underbite, its effects on oral health, and the various treatment options available, including Dr. Peter Brawn’s proven approach to underbite correction.

Key Takeaways

  • Underbite is a jaw misalignment characterized by lower teeth protruding beyond upper front teeth.

  • Causes of underbite may be genetic, childhood habits or injuries (including tumors) and can lead to various health issues if untreated.

  • Early diagnosis and intervention are the ideal way to fix an underbite, but many other great treatment options also exist for youth and adults – including braces and Invisalign treatment.

What is Underbite?

An underbite is a dental condition where the lower teeth protrude beyond the upper front teeth, usually resulting from a misaligned jaw. This condition is also known as class III malocclusion or prognathism and it can cause tooth decay and other oral health issues if left untreated.

One common visible sign of an underbite is that the chin may appear protruded – or too large – due to the lower jaw extending beyond the upper jaw.

Underbites are not all the same and can range from mild cases, where the lower teeth slightly overlap the upper teeth, to severe cases, where the facial shape and appearance are significantly affected.

Avoiding complications and improving oral health hinges on diagnosis and early treatment. However, if you’re already experiencing a protruding jaw or painful symptoms, it’s not too late to correct underbite. You’re in the right place. The best next thing to do is seek a consultation from a trusted expert who can observe your dental condition and give you advice.

Pro tip: You don’t need to pay for this valuable advice. Many top-rated orthodontic experts in Vancouver offer free consultations today, so you can get the advice you need to make the right decision for you.

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digital rendering of a smile with an underbite, showing the lower jaw and lower teeth protruding

Types of Underbites

Underbites are usually classified into mild and severe types and can impact both appearance and function.

Mild underbites may not require extensive treatment to achieve perfectly aligned teeth.

While many orthodontists and websites will tell you that severe underbites could necessitate orthognathic jaw surgery, we’re here with some good news: today, Invisalign clear aligners can treat even severe underbites and achieve your best smile.

Identifying the severity of an underbite early is still key, given that treatment options and outcomes may vary.

But if you’ve been recommended jaw surgery by a local orthodontic expert, get a free consultation at Dr. Peter Brawn and allow us to provide you with a complimentary second opinion. You might be able to avoid the expensive orthognathic surgery cost, save your lower and upper jaw a lot of potential harm, and correct underbite much, much faster.

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Underbite vs. Overbite

While underbite and overbite are both types of malocclusion, they are distinctly different. Overbite (Class II Malocclusion) involves the upper teeth projecting beyond the lower teeth. Where underbite (Class III Malocclusion) is the dental condition where lower teeth project beyond the upper teeth.

Underbites are generally more complex to rectify than overbites, but both are corrected often by the best orthodontic experts in Vancouver. Braces and Invisalign are used to address both overbite and underbite.

What Causes an Underbite?

Determining the most effective treatment plan to correct an underbite is easier when the root causes are diagnosed and understood. A variety of factors can lead to the development of an underbite including:

  • genetic factors

  • childhood habits, and

  • injuries or tumors affecting the jaw.

Genetic factors, such as hereditary influences and genetic misalignment of the jaw, can play a significant role in the development of an underbite.

Childhood habits can also lead to underbites developing over time. Thumb sucking and prolonged use of a pacifier are two common examples of behaviors to monitor.

Injuries to the face or tumors on jawbones may result in an underbite due to mismatched jawbones or growth abnormalities.

Consulting a dentist or orthodontist near you can be priceless for your jaw bones and long-term health. Many people wait too long to seek orthodontic treatment advice and put themselves at greater risk of tooth decay or requiring underbite surgery (although often, surgery can be avoided when you consult a proven orthodontic expert).

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Genetic Factors

Genetic factors can influence the shape, size, and alignment of the jaw and teeth, leading to an underbite.

The growth of the jaw and the shape and size of teeth are largely inherited from parents or family members, and genetic influences can contribute to the emergence of malocclusions, including underbites.

The best way to minimize the impact of genetic factors on oral health is early action. The next best way, if you are uncertain, is to act now. Get a free consultation at Dr. Peter Brawn today.

Childhood Habits

Childhood habits are also sometimes a reason that underbite occurs.

Thumb-sucking can lead to underbite due to persistent pressure placed on the roof of the mouth, causing misalignment of the upper and lower jaws and resulting in the lower teeth protruding beyond the upper teeth.

Similarly, extended pacifier use can be linked to dental malocclusion, including open bite and underbite formation. Addressing these habits early on can help prevent the development or worsening of an underbite.

Health Problems of Untreated Underbite

Untreated underbite can lead to many health issues, such as:

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

  • Halitosis (bad breath)

  • Snoring and mouth breathing

  • Sleep apnea

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Left untreated, even tooth decay, gum disease, and requiring tooth extraction

The correlation between misaligned teeth, malocclusion, and TMJ issues is strong, making it crucial to address underbites with proper treatment.

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young woman smiling after orthodontic treatment to fix an underbite

Treatment Options for Underbite Correction

Several treatment options are available for underbite correction, including:

  • Jaw surgery

  • Braces

  • Clear Aligners

  • Invisalign treatment

The choice of treatment depends mostly on your individual needs. Consulting with a dentist or orthodontist will help you determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual circumstances. Different treatments come with their own set of risks, benefits, and costs. We’re here to help.

Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery (or orthognathic surgery) can correct severe underbites when the lower jaw extends too far forward but comes with high costs and (higher) risks.

The underbite surgery involves cutting the jaw bones to bring the upper jaw forward, or cutting the jaw bones and repositioning the lower jaw to realign the chin and lower teeth backward. In some cases, tooth extraction may even be necessary before the surgery. The recovery period for jaw surgery can range from two weeks to twelve months (12 months!!), depending on the complexity of the surgery.

Health insurance may cover jaw surgery if it is deemed medically necessary for the patient’s health, but even if your financial costs are covered, underbite surgery comes with serious costs to your jaw health and serious risks, too.

Some of the many risks orthognathic surgery carries includes:

  • Risks associated with general anesthesia

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Scarring

  • Damage to facial muscles

  • Permanent damage to jaw bones

Underbite surgery should be viewed as an absolute last resort option, and in most cases, one that does more harm for you than good.

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Braces for Underbite

Braces can treat underbites, but the severity of the condition determines the treatment plan – and how long it will take to straighten your upper and lower teeth.

If you don’t want to spend months and even years to correct an underbite, studies show that clear aligners like Invisalign have a significant advantage over braces as the fastest treatment option. And they don’t necessarily cost you any extra (more on that below).

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The average cost of braces for underbite correction depends on the complexity of the case and the expertise of your doctor but usually ranges between $5,500 – $10,000 in Vancouver for most cases (although very mild cases may cost less).

Braces can be effective in correcting an underbite, but they can be uncomfortable and require regular visits to the orthodontist. Additionally, braces can take a long time to correct an underbite and are clearly visible on your front teeth.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, like Invisalign, are one of the proven correction methods to fix an underbite. The duration required to correct an underbite with aligners depends on the severity of the underbite and the degree to which the lower jaw extends forward.

These custom-made, removable aligner trays gently guide the teeth toward your ideal alignment. There are many brands of clear aligners, but the world’s leading clear aligner available today is Invisalign.

Invisalign for Underbite

Invisalign treatment is a proven method for correcting mild underbite and even more severe underbite, too, in the care of a trained expert.

The technology behind Invisalign continues to grow more advanced, and now today, these clear aligners can treat essentially any treatable orthodontic treatment case regardless of complexity.

Invisalign treatment is proven to get results and fix misalignment in both your upper jaw and lower jaw. Whether you’re seeking a solution for underbite, overbite, generally crooked teeth, or another issue with top or bottom teeth, Invisalign might be the right decision for you.

Did you know that Invisalign has also been shown in studies to be faster than braces at straightening teeth?

At Dr. Peter Brawn, you’ll get results up to 2x faster than even typical Invisalign treatment times. And up to 75% less discomfort compared to traditional braces, too. You’ll also enjoy far fewer appointments than most other dentists and orthodontists in Vancouver require.

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Average treatment time of braces vs. aligners vs. Invisalign at Dr. Peter Brawn
Average treatment time of across all cases at Dr. Peter Brawn vs. averages elsewhere (Underbite treatment times tend to take slightly longer).

The Right Treatment for Your Upper and Lower Teeth

Choosing the right treatment for your underbite depends on the severity of the condition and personal preferences. When selecting the appropriate treatment plan, factors such as age, severity of the underbite, treatment preferences, and cause of the underbite are important to consider.

In all cases, please explore all non-invasive options for treatment before considering surgery. Any underbite surgery comes with significant risks to your upper and lower jaw – in addition to the sizable financial cost. Ultimately, the right decision is unique to you, but a good doctor will give you helpful advice and still leave room for you to decide.

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Underbite Before and After

Underbite before and after images can help you understand the potential results of treatment, and at Dr. Peter Brawn, they are completely available to you in your initial consultation. Below are examples of what you’d see in your initial free consultation with us.

These images showcase:

  • The improved alignment of the upper and lower jaws

  • The appropriate positioning of the lower teeth in relation to the upper teeth

  • The reduction or elimination of the lower teeth overlapping the upper teeth in front.

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Dr. Peter Brawn’s Approach to Underbite Correction

Dr. Peter Brawn’s approach to underbite correction combines advanced technology, personalized care, and efficient treatment to get you your best smile and great service. Utilizing Invisalign, we gently straighten teeth and get you results up to 2x faster than average Invisalign and braces patients, even for severe underbite.

We focus exclusively on accelerated Invisalign treatment, so that you receive specialized care and expertise at every step of the way. This focus allows you to enjoy up to:

  • 2x faster treatment results than average patients,

  • half the number of required appointments, and

  • 75% less discomfort during treatment.

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Successful underbite treatment and straight teeth mainly depend on early action, accurate diagnosis, and choosing the right expert for treatment.

By understanding the causes, types, and options for underbite correction, you can make much more informed decisions at every step of the way.

With various treatment options available, you can find a solution that best fits your needs and preferences. We’d love to help. Get your free consultation today with Dr. Peter Brawn and we’ll give you advice on your ideal treatment personalized to your unique circumstances so that you can own your most confident smile – all without any expectation that you move forward with us.

We believe you deserve your best smile and ought to have all the answers you need to make the right decision for you whether that’s with us or not.

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But if you want more for your investment in your smile, accelerated Invisalign at Dr. Peter Brawn might be for you. Here are just a few of the many ways we’ll give you more at a competitive price vs. elsewhere in Vancouver:

  • Up to 2x faster Invisalign treatment.

  • Dedicated 1-on-1 focus from our team.

  • We only ever see 1-2 patients at a time, maximum.

  • No hidden fees.

  • Dental monitoring at no additional charge.

  • Far fewer appointments with faster, better progress.

  • As much as 75% less discomfort than typical treatment.

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two women smiling with perfectly aligned upper jaw and lower jaw and no misaligned teeth

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Invisalign Fix Underbite?

Yes, Invisalign can fix underbite today even in more severe cases. Consulting with an Invisalign specialist will allow you to know if treatment is an appropriate option for your specific underbite. The doctor will assess the severity of your underbite and recommend the best course of action based on your individual needs.

How do orthodontists and dentists fix an underbite?

Treatment for an underbite will depend on its severity; mild cases may be corrected simply with extra oral appliances (like an upper jaw expander and chin cap) or mild orthodontic care, while more severe cases may require braces or Invisalign. Only the most extreme cases require surgery, and it should be viewed as a last resort.

What causes a underbite?

Prolonged thumb-sucking, bottle-feeding or pacifier use, nail-biting, and tongue-thrusting can all cause an underbite, as well as a face or jaw injury. Surprisingly, some of the most common causes of underbite are linked to genetics.

Does underbite affect speech?

Underbites can cause speech impediments when restrict the tongue and affect the clarity of speech. Crossbites may also cause issues, as there may not be enough room for the tongue when teeth are not in the right place.

Is it OK to have an underbite?

Having an underbite can lead to unpleasant symptoms like jaw pain and difficulty eating and speaking. It can increase your risk of dental problems and conditions like TMJ disorders, and in severe cases, cause wear and tear on your front teeth. It is important to take the severity of your underbite into account when considering if it is okay to have one. And always consult with an expert first.

Dr Peter Brawn

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