Common Problems: Underbite

Much rarer than its counterpart, the overbite, this condition is exactly the opposite. It is a condition in which the teeth on the lower jaw protrude forward, covering the upper teeth when biting down. This condition should not be confused with prognathism of the lower mandible, as this condition means that the jawbone of the mandible is longer than the maxilla, which can only be corrected via orthognathic surgery.

If an underbite goes untreated, TMJ problems become likely, which can make eating, chewing, and biting very difficult.  

Underbite Causes And Treatment

The underbite is indeed only a protrusion of teeth, and not the jaw. Thus it can be fixed by regular orthodontic treatments. The condition is caused by the pathological positioning of teeth, and it may also be caused by childhood sucking of thumbs or pacifiers. Usually though, an underbite is hereditary in origin, something you will have inherited form your mother or father. But treating it is fairly simple.


Orthodontic braces are the usual way to treat this condition. The treatment of this problem usually takes longer than in the case of an overbite. Often, orthodontic elastics, or rubber bands as they are commonly referred to, will be needed to pull the teeth back. An underbite usually cannot be fixed by wearing aligners, as those contraptions cannot push teeth back. Very slight cases of underbite may be able to be cleared with aligners, but that is rare. In some cases functional appliances may need to be used to correct the underbite. The typical length of a treatment of this sort will last around one year, but can take much longer as well, obviously the treatment time is directly linked to the severity of the underbite.

The use of an expander for the upper jaw is very complicated, and is not as easy as a palatal expander. This device is usually only used for patients who will have some form of underbite, and who are approximately 8 years of age. So this is very rarely used.

If you would like to have your underbite corrected, the first step is to see a dentist to see if you will be needing orthognathic surgery, as usually there is some malformation of the jawbone with this condition. If not, then it is just a stint in braces!

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