Underbites and overbites are common dental conditions affecting how your teeth fit together. They can cause problems ranging from minor discomfort to severe pain and even difficulty eating and speaking. This article will discuss all there is to understand about underbites and overbites, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What Are Underbites and Overbites?
An underbite refers to lower jaw extending beyond the upper jaw, causing the lower teeth to protrude in front of the upper teeth. This condition is also known as a Class III malocclusion.
On the other hand, an overbite occurs when the upper jaw juts beyond the lower jaw, causing the upper teeth to overlap the lower teeth. This condition is also known as a Class II malocclusion. Both underbites and overbites can cause problems with biting, chewing, speaking, and facial appearance.
Causes of Underbites and Overbites
Several causes of underbites and overbites include genetics, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding, jaw injuries, and poor dental habits. Genetics plays a huge role in the development of both conditions. If one or both parents have an underbite or overbite, there is an increased likelihood that their children will inherit the condition.
Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and teeth grinding can all cause the teeth and jaw to shift out of alignment over time. Jaw injuries can also cause misalignment of the teeth and jaw. Poor dental habits such as mouth breathing, pacifier use beyond the recommended age, or prolonged bottle-feeding can also contribute to the development of underbites and overbites.
Symptoms of Underbites and Overbites
The symptoms of underbites and overbites can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty biting and chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Jaw pain
- Tooth wear and damage
- Facial asymmetry
In severe cases, underbites and overbites can also cause sleep apnea, a condition where the airway becomes blocked during sleep, causing breathing difficulties.
Treatment Options for Underbites and Overbites
The treatment options for underbites and overbites depend on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, no treatment may be necessary. However, in more severe cases, orthodontists may require treatment to correct teeth and jaw alignment.
Braces are a common treatment option for underbites and overbites. They work by applying constant pressure to the teeth, slowly moving them into their correct positions. Braces can be worn for several months or years, depending on the gravity of the condition.
Orthodontists may require surgery to correct an underbite or overbite, but it is typically reserved for severe cases where braces or other orthodontic appliances cannot correct the problem.
3. Orthodontic Appliances
Orthodontic appliances, such as headgear or palate expanders, can also correct underbites and overbites. These appliances apply pressure to the teeth and jaw, gradually moving them into the correct positions.
4. Tooth Extraction
Sometimes, tooth extraction may be necessary to correct an underbite or overbite. This is typically done when there is insufficient space in the mouth for all teeth.
Preventing Underbites and Overbites
While genetics play a significant role in the development of underbites and overbites, there are some steps you can take to bring down your risk of developing these conditions. These include:
- Avoiding thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and teeth grinding
- Encouraging proper oral hygiene habits, including regular brushing and flossing
- Encouraging proper breathing habits, including breathing through the nose instead of the mouth
- Seeking early treatment for any dental problems, such as cavities or gum disease
Underbites & Overbites as a Whole
Underbites and overbites are common dental conditions that can cause various problems. Causes of these conditions include genetics, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding, jaw injuries, and poor dental habits.
Symptoms of underbites and overbites include difficulty biting and chewing, speaking, headaches, jaw pain, tooth wear and damage, and facial asymmetry. Treatment options include braces, surgery, orthodontic appliances, and tooth extraction. You can lower your risk of developing these conditions and maintain good oral health by preventing them.
Visit Sullivan Orthodontics today and take the first step towards a healthier and more confident smile. Experienced staff from our orthodontist office in Bend, Oregon and our experienced staff in Redmond, Oregon can help diagnose and treat your underbite or overbite, so you can enjoy a lifetime of improved oral health. Schedule your appointment today and start your journey towards a better smile.