Can Early Orthodontic Treatment Correct Underbites in Children?

Dealing with bite issues at a young age can be uncomfortable, but don’t worry! KBL Orthodontics has your child’s back when it comes to providing expert and reliable care. Thanks to early orthodontic treatment, underbites in children are able to be corrected with non-invasive treatments. Read on to learn more about what an underbite is, the benefits of having them cared for, and your child’s care options to address them at an early age.

An Overview of Underbites

Underbites are categorized as a type of malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth. This bite issue is when your child’s lower front teeth protrude past their upper front ones, causing jaw pain and uneven pressure across the mouth. This can happen when their lower jaw grows faster than the other. 

An underbite can be caused by early childhood habits such as prolonged pacifier use and thumb sucking, but it is most commonly the result of simple genetics. If you or a family member close to your child had an underbite growing up, their chances of having one themselves increase. There are now many non-invasive ways to treat it, thanks to advancements in early care options.

When You Should Start Care 

The best time to start care is when you notice your child’s teeth growing in misaligned. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends taking your child in for an initial appointment around age seven. This way, orthodontists like Dr. Lewis, who are able to spot issues before they become a problem, can monitor your child’s teeth as they develop and while their jawbones are still easily malleable. 

Nevertheless, we encourage patients of all ages to come in for a free consultation so our team can assist you wherever they are on their smile journey! If an underbite is developed later in life, we can still provide effective treatments and resources for you to achieve the grin you deserve.  

Leaving an Underbite Untreated

If an underbite is left untreated, your child may experience negative physical and emotional side effects, including trouble with chewing, speech difficulties, jaw pain or TMJ issues, being unhappy with the appearance of their smile, and altered face shape. Only in rare cases does a child’s malocclusion fix itself, so Dr. Lewis encourages patients to be seen early on to help make an informed decision on the next steps. 

Can Early Orthodontic Treatment Correct Underbites in Children?

Why Correct an Underbite

Simple Dental Upkeep

When an underbite is left alone, your child’s teeth will continue to shift out of place from their ideal position, creating hard-to-reach areas of their mouth that become inaccessible to clean thoroughly with their toothbrush. Investing in aligned teeth helps make daily upkeep, including brushing and flossing, much more accessible and protects them from common complications like tooth decay and plaque buildup. Working to preserve your child’s teeth at an early age allows their future permanent teeth the chance to last a lifetime as an adult.

Easy Chewing and Digestion

With perfectly aligned teeth, your child will no longer have to worry about discomfort while chewing foods. As mentioned, crooked teeth can lead to uneven pressure spread across the mouth, which can result in chips or cracks, requiring additional procedures to fix them. 

Your child may be unable to adequately break down their food into bite-sized pieces required for smooth digestion. Correcting bite issues ensures meals are digested without extra strain on the intestine and helps to avoid stomachaches and heartburn. With the help of early orthodontic treatment, Dr. Lewis can even help encourage your child to try new foods they may have previously avoided because of this.

Early Orthodontic Treatment Options

As mentioned, the earlier your child comes into our office, the earlier we can learn more about the progress of their teeth as they grow up. This way, Dr. Lewis and our team at KBL Orthodontists can spot issues before they become severe and provide the necessary treatment to solve them. Not everyone requires early orthodontics, but those who do will truly benefit from treatment before the traditional age for braces. 

Palatal Expanders

Attached to the upper back teeth, palatal expanders are comprised of two metal plates used to widen the upper jaw and allow more space for their teeth to grow as permanent ones emerge. We will provide you with a small key to turn the metal plates a little further apart each day to adjust your child’s mouth to the sensation over a longer period. 

Partial Braces

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.

Reverse-Pull Face Masks

Similar to headgear, the reverse-pull face mask helps move your child’s upper jaw forward during its growth period to align it with their lower jaw. It is a custom-fit appliance that attaches to the upper teeth and extends to the forehead. The face mask is typically used with another appliance, such as a palatal expander, for optimal results. It is prescribed 16 hours a day, so they won’t need to worry about wearing it at school or with friends.

Can Early Orthodontic Treatment Correct Underbites in Children?

Begin Treatment For Your Child Today!

Our team at KBL Orthodontics is ready to help your child begin underbite correction treatment at the time of your free consultation! We can share more about your child’s dental needs and the best next steps for their health. Schedule your child’s first appointment with us today! Dr. Lewis proudly provides her services to Dothan and the surrounding communities. We can’t wait to meet you and your family!