Underbite 101: The Causes And How To Correct It – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Underbite 101: The Causes And How To Correct It

Much like how our personalities help to make us unique, our teeth are another defining factor in our aesthetical build-up. From color, size, and shape, our mouths can differ from person to person in many ways, with some of the differences between our mouths becoming an identifiable part of us.

As proven by public figures such as Georgia May Jagger and Freddie Mercury, whose talents have helped to make them identifiable figures - but their teeth as well. However, teeth differences aren't always the best in some cases and can cause problems for affected individuals further down the line.

Many different orthodontic problems exist, with one of the most prevalent reasons for a trip to the orthodontist being underbites. Affecting between 5-10% of the US population, underbites are shared among the older and younger generation alike. They pose a range of questions for those affected by an underbite smile and not. 

Some of the most searched questions about underbites are how to smile with an underbite? Can you get underbite correction without surgery? What exactly is an underbite smile? Plus many more. However, the causes and corrections of this common orthodontic issue are less known, so we've created this article outlining everything you need to know about this orthodontic issue – keep reading to find out more.

What Is An Underbite?

Before explaining the causes and treatment options for those suffering from an underbite smile, it's essential to know what an underbite is. Both underbites and overbites are in the same orthodontic condition family, both of which are also known as a class three malocclusion, which is a dental condition where the upper rows of teeth do not meet the lower.

An underbite is an orthodontic condition in which the lower teeth extend farther than your upper teeth giving them an uneven, crooked, or twisted appearance. Much like any cosmetic concern, orthodontic conditions can differ in severity. In some cases, a minor underbite might not be unidentifiable from the outside. In contrast, a person's jaw can extend so far outwards that the underbite is immediately identifiable in more severe cases.

An underbite can cause more than just aesthetic problems. Having an underbite may cause issues with your teeth or jaw, excess wear on the front surface of your teeth, or in more severe cases, the affected individual may have trouble chewing/biting or speech problems.

As we've mentioned, underbites can cause serious consequences, so if you do have an underbite smile and are concerned, whether for oral health reasons or aesthetics, we recommend booking an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. Only they will be able to give you accurate information about the severity of your underbite, whether it requires intervention, and advise you about the treatment options available.

What Treatment Options Are Available For Those With An Underbite Smile?

As we've touched upon in previous points, an underbite can cause many potentially serious aesthetic or health-related concerns. Fortunately, thanks to the advancement in dental technology, there is a range of options available for those suffering from underbite complications. From underbite correction without surgery to surgical options, some underbite treatment options are as follows:

  • Upper Jaw Expanders – Typically only recommended for those whose upper jaw is also tiny in width, an upper jaw expander is fitted across the palate, which gradually widens the jaw so that the low row of teeth matches better with the upper row.
  • Headgear – Usually only used in patients below the age of ten, various types of headgear can be worn to rectify an underbite. The 'reverse-pull' headgear is more common, pulling the upper jaw forward.
  • Braces – Arguably the most recognizable method on our list, braces are another common way of fixing orthodontic conditions. Braces work by exerting constant pressure on the teeth and jaw until the teeth shift into their corrected positions but are often frowned upon due to the unsightly metal-mouth look and expense.
  • Aligners – Another underbite correction option that is growing in popularity is aligners. Suppose you aren't fond of using braces but still want similar results. In that case, clear aligners might be a better option. Made from high-quality plastic; aligners can be custom-made to the impression of your teeth and nudge your teeth into a corrected position through continuous wear. Plus, thanks to advancements in modern dental technology, long gone are days in which you'd have to visit your dentist to get aligners fitted as you can now complete this process from home using products from companies such as ALIGNERCO. For more insight into their innovative teeth-straightening solutions and how they could work for you. Head to their website, contact a team member directly or follow their blog for more teeth straightening-related topics today.
  • Tooth Extraction – For those that suffer from mild to moderate malocclusion, your orthodontist may recommend extracting carefully selected teeth to resolve your underbite.
  • Jaw Alignment Surgery – On the other hand, your orthodontist such as Meadowbank Orthodontists in Edinburgh might recommend you undergo jaw alignment surgery if you suffer from severe malocclusion. This is an effective procedure that involves adjusting or repositioning your upper or lower jaw (or both) and is often used in conjunction with other teeth-straightening solutions such as braces. For the most part, the surgery has very high success rates, with the only downside being the recovery time and the complications following surgery.


What Are The Causes Of An Underbite?

The alignment of your teeth could be affected by various environmental and genetic factors. As a rule of thumb, when your teeth start to grow, the upper row of teeth should naturally overlap the bottom row by about 2mm. In cases where the teeth overlap by more than the previous measurement, the individual is diagnosed with an underbite or overbite.

Although underbites are typically a hereditary orthodontic condition, external environmental factors rarely affect their creation and can't be prevented. Several factors could cause an individual to develop an underbite; some of the most popular are as follows:

  • Injury – Serious damage to the jawbone or face can cause potentially permanent damage to your jaw. Damage to the jawbone or face can be attempted to be rectified through surgery; however, even after being surgically realigned, jawbones may still not fit together correctly, causing an underbite.
  • Tumors – If an individual has a tumor on their jawline or inside their mouth, this can cause the jaw to shift or misalign, creating an underbite.
  • Habits from Childhood – Habits from an individual's childhood can also cause the development of an underbite and other orthodontic conditions, from habits like tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, or using a pacifier/bottle for a prolonged period.
  • Illness – Illness can also cause the development of an underbite. Usually, this only happens due to contracting an endocrine condition, which causes issues with the glands that secrete hormones and other products into our bloodstreams, such as Addison's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and endometriosis.
  • Genetics – The most common cause of an underbite is due to genetics. If someone in your family suffers from malocclusion, then the chances of you suffering from the same issue increases. Due to genetics, you might be born with misalignment of the jaw, uneven teeth, or specific congenital disabilities such as a cleft lip or palate, resulting in malocclusion.


You should now be aware of what an underbite is and what causes them. Not only that, but you should have a good idea of how to treat them. The best solution is to visit your dentist or another oral hygiene expert, as they can give you the best advice and treatment to deal with it as soon as possible.