An underbite causes the lower front teeth to protrude over the upper ones. This can feel uncomfortable and lead to problems with chewing, digestion, and even tooth decay. Fortunately, there are several underbite treatment methods available. But which one is right for you? Learn more about your options.
Clear Teeth Aligners
Clear teeth aligners are invisible, custom-fitted trays that gradually straighten teeth. While they’ve been traditionally used for minor cases of misalignment, aligners are an increasingly popular option for a variety of cases.
“Clear aligners are more capable of treating complicated cases than ever before,” Hilary Fritsch, DMD, co-founder of The Brushies, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Clear teeth aligners are a less noticeable treatment method than braces, which makes them a popular choice. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the following are some benefits of using clear aligners:
- They are almost invisible
- They are easy to clean
- They can be removed for social events
Although aligners are removable, it's important to keep them on for the minimum amount of prescribed hours per day in order to to complete a successful treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists advises keeping your aligners on for 22 hours a day.
“You can achieve really great results with clear aligners now. You can definitely correct an underbite,” Fritsch says.
Braces are the traditional treatment method for mild to moderate underbites.
“When braces move teeth, they are also remodeling the bone. As teeth move, the cells in the bone around them will grow and resorb as needed,” Fritsch explains.
Braces apply pressure to your teeth using metal wires and brackets, according to the American Dental Association. Unlike clear aligner trays, which are switched out over time, an orthodontist must periodically tighten or change the wires of braces in order to apply the correct pressure to the teeth.
According to Fritsch, using braces allows orthodontists to correct an underbite by either expanding the upper jaw (maxilla) or leaning back the lower jaw (mandible).
Braces are available in a number of configurations, including metal braces, ceramic braces, and lingual braces.
“Some cases that are more skeletal in nature, meaning the lower or upper jaws are not equal in size, will typically require surgery to fully correct,” Fritsch says.
Jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, is performed by an oral surgeon who realigns your jaw to straighten your smile.
“Oral surgeons can work together with an orthodontist or experienced dentist to reduce the size of the mandible or increase the size of the maxilla in order to create proper alignment of the teeth and correct an underbite. It may require wiring the jaw shut for six weeks to stabilize the jawbone as it heals,” Fritsch says.
Sometimes, braces or clear teeth aligners are used before oral surgery to fix an underbite.
“Surgery often involves braces. Typically, braces can take a year to get teeth aligned. Then they do surgery once teeth are aligned to get the bite correct,” Fritsch says.
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