Underbites in children are one of the most common orthodontic issues. At Norton Orthodontics, we believe in the importance of early orthodontic evaluation. We make sure to spot and address any potential underbite issues to help your child towards a healthy, confident smile. Let’s explore how early orthodontic treatment can correct underbites in children.
Underbites are not just about looks; they’re a serious dental problem. You can recognize an underbite when the lower teeth stick out more than the upper teeth so that when the mouth is closed, the lower front teeth are in front of the upper teeth. There are two kinds of underbites:
- Skeletal Underbite: The lower jaw is bigger than the upper jaw.
- Dental Underbite: The teeth, not the jaw, cause the misalignment. This is also called a crossbite.
What Causes an Underbite?
Knowing why an underbite happens helps us treat it better. It’s usually because of two things: family history and environment.
If one or both parents have or had an underbite, there’s a much higher chance their children will develop the condition. Environment:
Oftentimes, habits or events can lead to an underbite:
- Thumb Sucking or Pacifier Use: Doing this a lot, especially after toddler years, can push teeth and jaws out of place.
- Tongue Thrusting: Pushing the tongue against the teeth when talking or swallowing can create an underbite.
- Chewing Habits: Always chewing on one side can make jaws and teeth crooked.
- Losing Baby Teeth Too Soon: If baby teeth fall out early because of decay or injury, it can disrupt how permanent teeth grow. Kids usually start losing baby teeth at five and get all their permanent teeth by 13.
What to Look For
Here’s what we look for to check for an underbite:
Face and Jaw:
- The lower jaw sticks out.
- One side of the face might look different from the other.
- Lower teeth overlap the upper ones.
- Teeth might be crowded or have gaps.
- Trouble biting or chewing.
- Hard time speaking clearly.
- Breathing through the mouth or snoring.
- Jaw pain, especially after talking or eating a lot.
- Teeth wear down quickly.
Spotting these signs helps us figure out the best way to fix your child’s underbite. Getting it fixed means a healthier, happier smile for your child!
At Norton Orthodontics, we’ll guide you and your child through every step of our examination and procedures to diagnose your child’s underbite.
We’ll first start with an initial examination. Here, Dr. Norton will examine your child’s facial structure, jaw alignment, and teeth. This examination usually involves a visual assessment of how the teeth come together when the mouth is closed.
Next, we’ll take a series of X-rays and photographs. Panoramic X-rays give us a complete view of the teeth, jawbone, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Facial photographs from different angles help us in assessing overall facial symmetry and the extent of the jaw’s protrusion.
Finally, in some cases, we may use advanced imaging techniques like CT scans or 3D modeling for a more detailed analysis of the jaw and teeth structure.
In order to treat your child’s underbite, we recommend having their first appointment with us by around age 7, as recommended by the AAO. This is a consultation and evaluation, not a start to treatment. The goal of the appointment is to understand your child. We’ll then have a foundation to work from, being able to track growth and decide the exact time to start treatment to best fit their needs. It also allows your child to get to know our office and become more comfortable coming in.
Once we’ve completed our first consultation, we’ll then begin Phase One treatment. Phase one is our first step to making sure your child’s underbite doesn’t become a bigger problem. We’ll usually begin treatment when your child is anywhere between 6 and 10, as your child is still growing.
The goal of Phase One is to set the stage for a healthier smile. By starting early, we can often prevent the need for more serious treatments later on. We want to make sure your child’s teeth and jaw grow in harmony, leading to a comfortable bite and a confident smile.
At Norton Orthodontics, depending on the severity of your child’s case, we can use a variety of treatments to begin their phase one journey. Let’s break down some of our most common treatments.
Braces are our main tool for fixing underbites. They’re not just metal brackets and wires; they’re a path to a straighter smile. Braces apply gentle pressure over time, moving teeth and guiding jaw growth. We might add spacers or rubber bands, depending on what your child needs.
Sometimes, there may be better solutions than braces. That’s where appliances come in.
Expanders help widen the upper jaw so the teeth line up better. In some cases, especially when the underbite is more pronounced, we might use headgear. Headgear helps in adjusting the jaw’s position through pulling.
Bringing Beautiful Smiles With Norton Orthodontics
At Norton Orthodontics, we’re committed to guiding you and your child through each step. Our goal is not just to correct underbites but to give your child the confidence that comes with a great smile. If you think your child has an underbite or needs orthodontic treatment, see us and schedule your free consultation today at any of our three locations in Florida: Cape Coral, Port Charlotte, and Bonita Springs!