At Sandifer Orthodontics, we understand bringing your child in for orthodontic treatment can be stressful. Our team strives to make your and your child’s experience as simple and comfortable as possible. When bite issues such as underbites arise at an early age, you can rely on early orthodontic intervention to correct them! Read on to learn more about this issue, signs your child may have one, and how we can help treat it.
What is an Underbite?
When teeth are correctly aligned, your upper teeth fit around the outside of the bottom teeth. Those with an underbite have a bite that looks the opposite. Their lower jaw protrudes too far past their upper teeth, resulting in an underbite. While it is not a common bite issue, Sandifer Orthodontics is fully equipped to help in addressing this complication.
Most of those who suffer from an underbite inherited it through genetics. Parents or close family members who had one at a young age or have a more prominent lower jaw are likely to pass it on. Occasionally, they can be caused by early childhood or toddler habits such as prolonged pacifier use or thumb sucking. If this can be caught at an early age, we are able to stop it from becoming more complex.
When To Start Care
The American Association of Orthodontics and Dr. Sandifer recommend bringing your child in for an initial consultation, a service we offer for free to our patients around age seven to get an idea of any possible issues that may occur at an early age. This allows us the opportunity to step in before something becomes more severe and use more straightforward, non-invasive treatments as necessary.
The severity of the condition can vary from minor to severe. Still, no matter the case, the earlier you are able to bring your child in to have their teeth examined, it will be a more comfortable experience to address the problem.
Signs Your Child Has an Underbite
Now that you have a better idea of what an underbite is, you may recognize some of the following signs your child has either mentioned to you or you may notice in appearance.
- Difficulty Chewing: your child’s teeth may be unable to chew food into bite-sized pieces for proper digestion.
- Teeth Wear and Tear: excessive pressure may be placed in certain areas of their mouth due to misalignment and everyday chewing.
- Speech Issues: the natural placement of your child’s tongue may cause them to mispronounce or be unable to pronounce particular sounds or words.
- TMJ Complications: pressure placed in the wrong areas may cause pain in the jaw, headaches or migraines.
- Unable to Completely Close Mouth: the lower jaw sticking out further than it should can cause your child’s lips to be unable to close all the way
This is not a comprehensive list, but if you suspect your child may be dealing with an underbite, our team is always happy to advise you on any orthodontic treatment options to help your child.
The Importance of Bite Correction
Having a proper bite is essential to your child’s dental health and the aesthetics of their smile. Leaving an underbite untreated can cause any initial signs of the condition to become more severe and necessitate more complicated treatment later. In addition to solving jaw pain, chewing complications, and speech issues, we can help your child feel more confident in their smile and not be afraid of showing it off to their friends and family!
Luckily, there are plenty of early orthodontic treatment options for our younger patients we will share about next!
Early Orthodontic Treatment Options
Reverse-Pull Face Masks
The reverse-pull face mask attaches to an appliance connected to your child’s upper teeth and gently pulls on the upper jaw to shift it into position. This appliance is similar to headgear in that it wraps around the forehead to place the right amount of pressure. It is typically prescribed to be worn for 16 hours a day, so there is no need for your child to worry about needing to have it on during the school day or when out with friends.
Focusing on select teeth, partial braces are an excellent option when readjustment is needed in specific areas. An underbite can be taken care of by using this appliance to space out crowded teeth and other methods to ensure the jaw is wide enough to properly support permanent teeth still growing in.
Often used with face masks, palatal expanders widen the upper jaw with the help of two custom-fitted metal plates that slowly move further apart over a long period. While children’s jaws are still malleable, we use non-invasive treatments such as these to mold their jaws. Dr. Sandifer will give you a key to turn and move the plates until they reach their ideal position.
What can happen if you do not address these issues early?
If an underbite is not addressed during the early years (prior to age 10 or the fusion of the growth sutures), the bite can persist and make the problem actually worse over time while your child is actively growing. Therefore, by the time all the permanent dentition is in, they are usually beyond the age of growth modification, resulting in the only option being jaw surgery or extraction of permanent teeth to address the problems that have occurred from letting the problem persist.
Let Early Orthodontics Come to the Rescue!
Understanding the causes and signs of underbites is essential to help your child solve any bite issues they may have at an early age. If you believe your child may currently suffer from one, we encourage you to bring them in for a free consultation with Dr. Sandifer and our team here at Sandifer Orthodontics. Our offices serve the communities of Brandon, Jackson and the surrounding areas. We can’t wait for you to come in!