A beautiful smile is often considered a sign of good dental health, but sometimes, issues like underbites and overbites can affect both the aesthetics and functionality of our teeth. These conditions occur when the upper and lower teeth don’t align properly, leading to potential oral health problems. Underbites and overbites can result in many different conditions, dental misalignments, and disorders so it’s important to understand what they are and help you in identifying possible anomalies with your own dental health.
Underbites and overbites: which is which?
An underbite occurs when the lower front teeth protrude beyond the upper front teeth, giving the appearance that the bottom jaw is protruding forward. Underbites can range from mild to severe and very rarely fix themselves naturally, meaning that dental treatment will be required. This misalignment can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, jaw size discrepancies, or prolonged thumb-sucking during childhood.
An overbite is something that we all have to a degree, as it is where the front teeth protrude outward over the jaw. Causes of overbites are largely genetic, with baby teeth sometimes influencing the shape of the jaw. However, using dummies later into child development and thumb sucking can also be a cause, along with nail-biting in children, teenagers, and adults.
When it comes to identifying an underbite and an overbite it is important to remember that an underbite affects the teeth on the lower jaw and an overbite affects the teeth on the upper jaw. Both are forms of malocclusions affecting the alignment of the jaw and bite.
Signs and symptoms of an underbite
Even though the visual signs of an underbite are quite transparent, such as the lower teeth protruding over the upper, some other signs and symptoms run alongside:
- Prominent Lower Teeth – one of the most noticeable signs is when the lower front teeth are visibly more prominent than the upper front teeth.
- Chin Protrusion – an underbite can cause the chin to jut forward, altering the overall facial profile.
- Speech Difficulties – some individuals with underbites may experience difficulties with speech, particularly in pronouncing certain sounds.
- Difficulty Biting and Chewing – a misaligned bite can lead to challenges in properly chewing food, potentially causing digestive issues.
- Pain – a misaligned jaw can cause pain and mild discomfort and range in severity depending on the activity taking place, such as eating and speaking. With an underbite, you are also more at risk of tooth decay, which can also cause pain.
Signs and Symptoms of an Overbite
Visual and physical signs that run alongside an overbite are:
- Upper Teeth Overlapping Lower Teeth – the most apparent sign of an overbite is when the upper front teeth significantly overlap the lower front teeth.
- Gum Irritation – overbites can lead to excessive wear on the lower teeth, causing gum irritation and potential sensitivity.
- Speech Issues – some individuals with overbites may experience speech difficulties, such as lisping or challenges with certain consonant sounds.
- Jaw or Facial Pain – misaligned bites can contribute to jaw pain, headaches, and facial discomfort due to uneven pressure on the teeth.
- Bad Bite – when the teeth are not correctly aligned, they are unable to function properly, so if the upper jaw is not in the correct position, the top and bottom will not bite together, causing jaw pain and difficulty with chewing and speaking
What to do if you Suspect you have an Underbite or Overbite
If you suspect you have an underbite or overbite, your next step should almost certainly be to contact an orthodontist. An orthodontist will need to make a full examination of your teeth, gums, and jaw to be able to give you an exact diagnosis and treatment plan.
Treatment can often include braces, to help guide the teeth back into alignment, which in most cases can fix the position of the jaw. In some cases, tooth extraction may be needed for the teeth to fall into alignment, and if your case is particularly severe it may be that jaw surgery is required.
Speak to a Specialist Orthodontist in Chorley
If you suspect that you may have an underbite or overbite, then your specialist orthodontist in Chorley is here to help. Your orthodontist in Chorley is well-equipped with fully trained clinicians who are well-practiced in the treatment of underbites and overbites, and our practice is equipped with the latest technological equipment for us to make a full examination and diagnosis.