What Is Underbite?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry responsible for correcting maxillofacial problems, such as misaligned teeth, malocclusion, and too much spacing between the teeth. Dental services can fix an underbite (class III malocclusion) where the lower teeth extend farther than the upper. 

In modern society, perfectly straight and white teeth are a sign of beauty and affluence. People with a noticeable underbite might suffer from self-esteem issues that affect their self-confidence and social life. Since the positioning of the teeth directly impacts the shape of your face, an underbite is thought to be solely a cosmetic concern, but it can bring about other difficulties. Not only can it take a toll on your mental well-being, but it can cause damage from wear and tear, hinder your sleep, and source several health complications.

An Underbite can cause:

  • trouble biting down and chewing food.
  • challenges with speaking and pronouncing words.
  • suffering general facial pains and discomfort.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)- pain in the hinge that connects the skull and the jaw. It comes with frequent popping and a feeling like it’s locked into place.
  • heightened chances of tooth decay and gum disease
  • halitosis. An underbite can cause bacteria to collect in the mouth causing chronic bad breath.
  • respiratory obstructions that trigger heavy snoring and poor breathing, through the mouth.
  • Sleep apnea. A condition where breathing is constantly blocked causing interruptions during sleep, resulting in fatigue.

There are various reasons you might develop an underbite. Genetics plays a significant role in determining if someone will develop an underbite. Generally, you inherit the shape and size of your jaw and face from your parents. If someone else in your family had an underbite it increases your chances. If you severely break or injure your jaw and it doesn’t heal an underbite might develop. Bad habits from childhood like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or overuse of a pacifier and bottle can be a culprit. Also, the growth of a tumor can shift your jaw.

Underbite correction

Therapy to fix an underbite is treated by an Orthodontist and can take years to complete. It is usually performed during childhood and the pre-teen years while the jaw is growing and still somewhat moldable. Though more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment as the choices and wearability improve. The options for rectification depend on the severity varying from barely noticeable to quite acute.


Braces are devices used in orthodontics that align and straighten teeth. In mild cases, they can help fix an underbite. There are five types of braces:

  1. Traditional metal braces are the most common, for patients of all ages. They use wire held by brackets glued to teeth to exert constant pressure to change their position, over time.
  1. Ceramic braces are of clear or tooth-colored material. They work the same way as the traditional, ones but are less noticeable, making them excellent for adults or those wanting more discretion. They are slightly larger than metal braces and can stain easily. 
  1. Self-ligating braces use doors or clips to hold the wire, rather than elastics. They are much easier and quicker for the orthodontist to adjust.
  1. Lingual braces are attached behind the teeth and are reasonable for those who do not want their braces seen. Because they rest against the tongue, wearers might experiences changes to their speech, like lisps, and irritations that should reduce with practice and time. 
  1. Clear aligners/ Invisalign- uses a 3D model of your teeth to create a series of costume-fitted retainers, made from BPA-free plastic that encases and straightens the teeth. A personalized plan determines how your teeth need to shift. It is best for patients with mild to moderate misalignments and is ineffective for jaw modifications.

Facemask therapy 

A device is worn on your face and rests on your forehead and chin with elastics designed to pull your upper jaw forward to gradually align with the lower mandible. It needs to be worn for 16 hours per day for about a year to be fully effective.

Upper Jaw Expander

A wire-frame gadget is fitted across the palate and widened every night by a special key to gradually reverse the facial protrusion.


Rubber bands are worn on the inside of the mouth, and are attached to mini-plates that are anchored in the skull to pull the upper jaw forward.


Thin, tooth-colored casings, made from porcelain or resin-composite, are permanently bonded to the lower teeth to reduce to appearance of an underbite.


Solutions for severe cases of an underbite could require invasive operation; usually performed once a patient has finished growing.

Early Interceptive Orthodontics

Early therapy, also known as interceptive orthodontic treatment is a two-phase remedy, utilized when children are still growing and have most of their primary teeth. Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13 and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden. The goal is to prevent the need for surgery, by fixing or preventing certain malocclusions before the face and jaw have developed, and becomes tougher to repair.  

Phase 1 typically begins between the ages of 6 and 9. This is the best time to detect and address intrusions of proper development, often with the assistance of headgear, selective braces, expansion appliances, and specialized retainers. It is recommended that children see an orthodontist as early as 7 to be evaluated for early orthodontic treatment. Phase 2, usually begins around age 12 or 13, consisting of braces therapy to complete the correction.  

Make an appointment to visit an orthodontist. Get an assessment and determine the best course of action to fix an underbite and create a neat, even, and beautiful smile, at any age!

By Manali