Your smile is the first thing people notice about you, and how you feel about it affects your confidence, or even how often you feel comfortable flashing a grin.
Smiling is good for your health, too. It lowers your stress levels, boosts your immune system, and can help your heart by lowering blood pressure. It’s important to feel good about your smile so that you do it more often and enjoy the health benefits.
Sometimes things can get in the way of smiling. A bad day or low confidence is usually the culprit. But an underbite that makes your jaw protrude past your upper teeth can also be something that makes you feel self-conscious.
An underbite is a common orthodontic condition that can affect your smile and your happiness. If your smile isn’t what you want it to be, or you’re looking for how to fix an underbite, the good news is it can be corrected, and we’re here to help.
What is an Underbite?
An underbite stems from a misalignment of the jaw. This means your bottom teeth protrude beyond your upper teeth and create a “bulldog appearance” to your face. Clinically this is called prognathism and it can make chewing or speaking uncomfortable.
An underbite isn’t only an aesthetic issue, either. It can cause pain, discomfort, and self-consciousness. The level of discomfort can range from minor to severe.
If you have a major underbite, you can usually self-diagnose from the underbite symptoms and look at your jawline. However, a more minor version will need to be diagnosed with an X-ray as your jaw changes position when you close your mouth.
Underlying Causes of an Underbite
An underbite is a very normal issue that can be caused by several factors. Genetics, environment, or even trauma to your mouth can be the culprit for an underbite.
If you’ve had an underbite for most of your life it most likely runs in your family.
Genetic factors are outside of your control, but there is hope for underbite treatment even if you inherited it. The genetic factors that contribute to this are a large lower jaw or overcrowding of your teeth.
Some underbites can have a physical origin that stems from childhood behaviors. Like excessive thumb sucking, too much mouth breathing, thrusting your tongue against your teeth, using a pacifier or bottle for too long, or bad chewing habits.
The good news for parents with young kids wondering how to fix an underbite is that these underbites can be prevented by teaching proper chewing habits and limiting pacifier and bottle usage.
Severe injuries to your face may cause permanent damage to your jawbones. Often, it’s possible to repair broken jawbones, but jaws don’t always fit together properly after being surgically realigned.
Tumors on your jawbones or in your mouth may cause your jaws to protrude, causing an underbite.
Symptoms of an Underbite
An underbite is more than just a cosmetic issue. While some people may learn to live with mild cases, severe cases may cause oral health problems, such as:
- Difficulty biting and chewing food
- Challenges with speaking
- Mouth and face pain due to jaw misalignment
- Bad breath
- Sleep Apnea
How to Get Rid of an Underbite
Usually, slightly misaligned teeth don’t require any medical treatment. However, correcting an underbite, especially when it’s severe, can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being.
The best part about getting underbite treatment is that your teeth will be easier to clean, and it will keep your overall dental health in check. Your risks for tooth decay and gum disease will decrease. Plus your teeth will feel less strain, as well as your jaw and facial muscles.
Consistently brushing and flossing your teeth coupled with regular dental check-ups and cleanings are crucial to your health. But if you have an underbite or other dental issues it’s important to keep an eye on your oral health so that you can catch issues early.
Once you’ve seen your dentist, it’s possible for a more advanced at-home treatment plan, like wearing a retainer or mouth guard. But these are tools that your dentist will provide.
The only way to truly correct an underbite is with medical treatment from your dentist. The earlier we can address the problem together, the faster we can make a treatment plan. A really common way of treating an underbite is with braces.
Depending on the severity of the underbite, surgery is another option. But this isn’t the solution for most cases. Your dentist will help you decide the way forward.
Treat Your Underbite Today
If you believe you have an underbite, it’s important to have a professional take a look and set up an action plan with you.
Taking care of your oral health is just as important for your overall health. If left untreated, issues can cause discomfort and pain which can disrupt your life.