A significant proportion of the UK population are affected by some degree of underbite or overbite, both of which are a type of malocclusion. While these conditions are often corrected during a childhood orthodontic procedure, it’s not uncommon for us to see underbites and overbites in adults too. Read on to learn more about malocclusions and what we can do to correct them.
What is a malocclusion?
First things first, what are we actually dealing with here? As we mentioned before, both overbites and underbites are types of malocclusion – a term which refers to a deviation or misalignment of the teeth from a “normal” position (where the upper teeth fit slightly over the lower ones). Malocclusions fall into three distinct categories:
The most common form of malocclusion. The upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth, although the bite remains normal.
Overbites – also known as a retrognathism – fall into this category. The bottom jaw and teeth are severely overlapped by the upper jaw and teeth.
An underbite, also called a prognathism. This occurs when the lower jaw protrudes or juts forward, which causes the lower jaw and teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth.
How do malocclusions develop?
Underbites and overbites are most often a matter of genetics, and are more common in some ethnic groups than others. However, it’s not all about your family history. Childhood habits such as sucking your thumb, prolonged bottle feeding and using pacifiers beyond the age of three can also lead to malocclusion. Other common causes include:
- Extra or missing teeth
- Poorly fitted fillings, retainers or braces
- Misalignment of the jaw following severe injury
What health problems can be caused by underbites and overbites?
Malocclusions obviously have a cosmetic impact, affecting the appearance of the smile and jawline. In the same way that a person with crooked or damaged teeth can feel self-conscious or embarrassed about their smile, underbites and overbites can affect your confidence.
However, malocclusions aren’t simply a cosmetic issue. The can also cause wider health problems. Depending on how pronounced the underbite or overbite (and therefore how wide the gap between lower and upper jaws and teeth), a malocclusion can lead to issues such as:
- Difficulties with eating and speaking
- Excessive wearing of tooth enamel, which in turn can result in tooth decay
- Sleep apnoea, snoring and other issues with breathing while asleep
- Trouble with opening or closing the mouth fully
- Chronic jaw or joint pain
- Head and earaches
How to fix an underbite or overbite
Traditionally, correcting any type of malocclusion has involved the use of braces. But at Ollie & Darsh, we understand that braces aren’t for everyone; they’re often unsightly and can interfere with your lifestyle. That’s why we’re proud to offer clear, invisible adult orthodontic treatments that can be effective in correcting underbites and overbites.
We use Invisalign aligners to correct overbites, deep bites and some underbites. However, it should be noted that a combination of Invisalign treatment and surgery may be required in cases of severe underbites. Clear, invisible and comfortable, Invisalign is designed to improve the alignment of your teeth with the minimum impact on your appearance. Here at Ollie & Darsh, we’ve been recognised as one of the top 50 Invisalign providers in Europe, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands when you come to us!
Can Six Month Smiles correct underbites and overbites?
An innovative and efficient alternative to traditional braces, the Six Month Smiles solution can leave you with straighter teeth in an average of just six months. We recommend Six Month Smiles to patients with crooked or crowded teeth, as they’re perfect for achieving cosmetic improvements and are far more discreet than regular braces. However, if you have anything more than a minor malocclusion, you’ll almost certainly require a more conventional treatment.
Of course, we don’t simply expect you to identify the best solution yourself! At Ollie & Darsh, our friendly team are here to help. We’re ready and waiting to answer any questions you might have about how to correct underbites and overbites, so get in touch with us today to make a reservation at our Liverpool city centre clinic.