How Do You Fix an Underbite?

What’s an underbite, what causes it and, most importantly, how do you fix it? Do you know? If not, read this article from Somerville Orthodontics.

January 10, 2023

Do you feel your jaw is misaligned or that your bottom teeth protrude outwards? Underbite, also known as anterior crossbite malocclusion, is a dental condition where the lower jaw protrudes past the upper jaw. Underbites can range in severity from mild to severe and can be caused by genetic factors, poor oral habits or trauma. Depending on the severity of the underbite, there are various treatment options available to help fix it.

This article will discuss the causes, symptoms and different treatments for underbite. We’ll also cover the dangers of leaving an untreated underbite and how to prevent it from occurring in the first place. So, keep reading to learn more about how to fix an underbite.

Can You Fix an Underbite?

In minor cases of underbite, orthodontic treatment such as face mask appliance, braces or clear aligners with the aid of elastic bands may be recommended to move the teeth back into proper alignment. Orthognathic surgery may also be recommended for more severe cases when braces alone won't work. This type of surgery involves reshaping and repositioning the jaw bones to correct the malocclusion. 

In some cases, the jaw may need to be broken and then wired shut while it heals in order for the bones to heal properly. Underbite surgery is a major procedure that should only be done by an experienced oral surgeon and with careful consideration of all treatment options.

Wearing a splint at night can help if you have TMJ related pain from an underbite but this alone will not be able to correct the malocclusion.

Underbite vs. Overbite

It’s important to understand the difference between an underbite and an overbite. An overbite is when the upper teeth overlap too far past the lower teeth, while an underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes outwards beyond the upper jaw. Underbites can result in difficulty with chewing and speaking due to the misalignment of the teeth and jaws. Underbites can also potentially lead to pain in your facial muscles and contribute to headaches.

Underbite Causes

So, what causes an underbite? Underbite, also known as a Class II malocclusion, is usually caused by genetic factors but could also result due to poor oral habits, premature loss of primary teeth or trauma.


Any kind of trauma can cause an underbite, such as a facial injury or an accident like a car crash. Underbites may also arise if the jaw is pushed out of alignment due to a tumor, cyst or abscess.

Misaligned teeth

Misaligned teeth or premature loss of certain primary teeth can cause an underbite as well. If the upper and lower teeth are not properly aligned, it may result in a misalignment or functional shift of the jaw and lead to an underbite.

Underbite Treatment: How to Correct an Underbite

The best treatment option for an underbite will depend on its severity. Mild cases can often be corrected with extra oral appliances or braces, while more severe cases may require orthognathic surgery to reposition the jaw bones. The dentists or surgeons will discuss all available treatment options with you or your child and help you decide on the best course of action.


Braces are a common treatment option for underbites because they can help realign the teeth and jaw. They can also help improve the appearance and function of the teeth.  Elastic bands are almost always necessary to help correct the underbite and extraction of teeth may also be necessary.

Extra-oral Appliance/Facemask

Facemask is another treatment option for underbites. It works to pull the jaw forward and should be worn for at least 12 hours per day in order to be effective. This treatment option is ideal for younger patients and may need to be done in combination with braces in order to achieve optimal results.

Surgery: Orthognathic Surgery

In very severe cases of underbite, orthognathic surgery may be necessary. This type of surgery involves repositioning the jaw bones and can help realign the teeth and jaws to improve facial symmetry and function. Although this type of surgery is invasive, it is often the best option for treating a severe underbite in adults.  The surgery must be done in conjunction with braces or clear aligners and patients must be done growing before the surgery can take place.

Underbite Prevention

If you suspect your child might have inherited an underbite from a parent, having them checked by a dentist early on can help catch it before it develops into something more serious. Although we can not prevent underbites that are genetically predetermined, regular evaluation of your child’s teeth is a good way to diagnose any developing signs of an underbite.  

Underbite correction is possible, but it’s important to take action early to prevent the condition from worsening over time. If you or your child have been diagnosed with an underbite, discussing all available treatment options with a dentist or orthodontist is key to finding the most effective solution for you. With proper treatment and care, it’s possible to reduce pain and improve the appearance of your smile.

If you're in the Somerville, Massachusetts, area, schedule your smile assessment with Somerville Orthodontics today. Our doctor, Dr. Moonyoung Lee, is an American Board of Orthodontics board-certified orthodontist.

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