What Causes Underbite in Children?

What Causes Underbite in Children?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: February 3rd, 2023 Category:

Several factors can cause children to develop underbites. Fortunately, your Espire dentist can treat the condition.

Roughly 90 percent of children display some form of malocclusion, or a misalignment between the upper and lower teeth. One type of malocclusion is an underbite, also called a Class III malocclusion or prognathism. In this orthodontic condition, the lower teeth stick out beyond the upper teeth. It differs from an overbite in which the upper teeth stretch over the lower teeth.

Typically, the upper teeth should extend only slightly over the lower teeth, while the wide molars in the back of the mouth fit over each other. When the upper and lower jaws are aligned, you should be able to chew and speak with no issues. However, underbites are common in children, and, as a parent, you may want to know what causes the condition so that you can seek proper treatment for your child.

What causes an underbite?

Underbites can be mainly attributed to genetics. If a parent or other close family member had an underbite, the child might inherit the condition, too. Children born with crowded teeth or a cleft lip or palate may also develop an underbite. 

Childhood habits play a role, as well. Pacifier use after age three or feeding on a bottle beyond the infant years can misalign the upper and lower teeth. Thumb sucking has also been known to cause malocclusions during early developmental years. 

In addition, a severe injury to the jaw can change its structure and lead to an underbite. Even once surgically repaired, there’s a chance that the upper and lower jaw may not fit together correctly.

What can be done to correct an underbite?

Some cases of underbite are so minor they’re hardly noticeable and cause no problems. In fact, only between 10 percent to 15 percent of childhood malocclusions require orthodontic treatment.

However, if you notice your child struggling to pronounce words or chew food because of the underbite, you should consider seeking treatment. An underbite can further cause your child to experience jaw pain and disrupt sleep patterns. Your child may also feel self-conscious about their teeth and smile and want it corrected. 

A visit to an orthodontist can help you decide if treatment is necessary. The orthodontist will take X-rays and an impression of your child’s mouth to determine the severity of the condition. Then, you can explore several treatment options, including:

Braces. Braces are the standard treatment for malocclusions and can be fitted to your child beginning at age seven when the permanent teeth erupt. You can explain to your child that braces don’t have to be noticeable. Clear or ceramic braces are much less visible than wire ones. 

Orthodontic appliances. Retainers, headgear, and expanders are all orthodontic appliances used to treat underbites in young children. Over time, these appliances gently push the teeth into the proper position. 

Tooth removal. Teeth crowding can sometimes lead to an underbite. Removing one or more teeth may reduce the appearance of malocclusion.

Surgery. Underbite surgery would reshape the upper or lower jaw, allowing the teeth to fit together correctly. While surgery can successfully correct underbites, it involves some risks, such as infection and bleeding. Therefore, it’s only recommended in cases of a severe underbite. 

Correcting an underbite will not only give your child a great smile, but it will also make eating and speaking much easier. Having properly aligned teeth means an easier time brushing and flossing and less chance of additional oral issues! 

Visit an Espire Dental office

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, location today! Our highly trained dentists and orthodontists can correct your child’s underbite with the latest techniques. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City, OK, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120