How Do Braces Fix Underbites?
By Dr. Tyler Coles – Premier Orthodontics
Table of Contents
Most people know that braces can fix underbites—but most may not know how it actually works…
So we created this article! Learn the 4 specific ways that underbites are corrected with braces, and the process behind each method.
What Is An Underbite?
Before we talk about how to fix underbites, let’s first define what an underbite is….
The technical term that orthodontists use for underbite is “Negative Overjet.” This essentially means that the bottom teeth stick out farther than the top teeth.
An underbite is not as common as overbites, but it’s common enough for orthodontists to fix them on a routine basis. …
How we choose to fix the underbite varies. It will usually depend on how severe the underbite is.
There are so many ways to fix underbites, but in this article we’ll discuss four of the most common methods we at Premier Orthodontics choose when correcting underbites for our patients. We’ve found that these four methods are effective and stable ways to fix nearly all underbite problems.
Fixing Underbites With Braces & Rubber Bands
The first type of overbite we’ll discuss is a mild underbite. The patient shown in this picture is a good example of a mild overbite – you can see that his lower teeth stick out a bit compared to the top teeth.
For this type of underbite, a combination of braces and elastics were used to help bring the top teeth forward and the bottom teeth back.
As you can see in this video, by connecting a rubber band between the upper and lower teeth, and keeping it there over a period of time, the top and bottom teeth will respond to the pressure and correctly re-align, fixing the mild underbite.
With the patient we showed earlier, you can see that braces with rubber bands helped to fix his underbite and give him a great smile.
Fixing Underbites With Braces and Extractions
The next type of underbite correction we’ll discuss is a moderate underbite. In moderate underbite cases, the lower teeth are very protrusive sticking too far forward. This patient here is a good example.
Due to the severity of her bite, we recommended that two permanent teeth get removed on her lower arch and two teeth on her upper arch. This is the most effective and stable method we have for fixing an underbite of this severity.
This short animation will demonstrate how taking out teeth on the upper arch and lower arch, and then closing the space, can help reduce the protrusion of the front teeth while fixing the underbite.
Also notice in the animation how we usually have the bicuspid (or premolar teeth) extracted first. Then we use braces to move teeth into the extraction space, correcting the underbite.
The coolest part? Once this space is closed, you won’t be able to tell that teeth were ever removed! The bite will fit together properly and the underbite should be corrected.
Going back to our patient, she had two teeth on her upper arch and two teeth on the lower arch extracted. We closed that space; by the time we were done, she had a beautiful smile, no spaces, and her underbite was completely corrected.
Fixing Underbites With Braces and Jaw Surgery
The last type of underbite correction we’ll discuss is a severe underbite. Severe underbites may be too severe to fix with braces and extractions alone. Instead, jaw surgery (or orthognathic surgery) may be recommended.
Luckily most patients won’t require any jaw surgery to correct an underbite, but for certain patients with a very severe underbite, jaw surgery is a life-changing option. The patient below is a good example of someone who would benefit most from a combination of braces and jaw surgery.
Due to the severity of her bite, we knew that braces alone would not correct it. Instead, we felt that her profile and jaw line would greatly benefit from a combined treatment plan that included jaw surgery.
This short animation will show you how jaw surgery can help to correct severe underbites. This really brings home how big of change jaw surgery can make on the profile and jawline of someone suffering from a severe underbite.
Going back to our patient, she had braces with our office and was referred to a local oral surgeon for the surgical procedure. She was able to get full correction of her underbite and greatly improve her profile and jawline!
How Can I Tell if Me or My Child Needs Braces to Fix an Underbite?
If you think you or your child may need braces to correct an underbite, the best place to start is with a free consultation by an orthodontist in your area.
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