With an underbite, your lower teeth protrude in front of your upper teeth when you bite down. Fixing the condition is important because it can lead to abnormal tooth wear, unnatural stress on the jaw joint, and a cosmetic effect where the chin and lower jaw appear prominent, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. While some cases require surgery, underbite correction without surgery is also possible. Here’s what you need to know about non-surgical underbite correction.
You can treat mild underbites without surgery.
If the underbite is only mild or moderate or the patient is still young, underbite correction without surgery is an option.
Jaw surgery for underbite is recommended when non-surgical measures alone can’t resolve the issue. “In particularly severe cases, a dentist may recommend surgery to treat the condition,” Payam Ataii, DMD, a dentist in Laguna Hills, CA, tells WebMD Connect to Care. In such cases, surgery is typically reserved for adults whose facial skeleton has stopped growing and who require surgical intervention to restore the normal form and function of the jaw, according to Mayo Clinic.
An orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in teeth alignment, can help you decide if non-surgical options are right for you.
Braces and clear aligners can fix an underbite.
There are several non-surgical options for fixing an underbite. “For mild cases, a dentist may recommend metal braces or clear aligners to move teeth into the correct position. In some cases, a dentist may use a grinding device to shave down larger teeth,” Ataii says.
The goal with braces and clear teeth aligners is to slowly shift the teeth and jaws into the correct position. Both options apply constant pressure to gradually alter the way the teeth come together, according to the American Dental Association. A major difference between the two approaches is that you can remove dental aligners for cleaning and eating, whereas braces stay in your mouth for the duration of treatment.
Because children’s facial bones are not yet fused, doctors can use several other oral appliances to help fix an underbite. These include a palatal expander, which makes the upper jaw wider, and reverse-pull headgear, which uses traction to remodel the facial bones, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
Non-surgical treatment duration can vary.
If you are a candidate for non-surgical underbite correction, getting fully treated might be quicker than you think. “Depending on the severity of the underbite and treatment option, the length of treatment will vary. Generally, treatment of mild underbites with clear aligners treatment can be as short as 4-6 months,” Ataii says. The treatment time for braces and dental aligners is roughly equal, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
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