An underbite is a type of malocclusion, or “bad bite.” Most orthodontic problems result from an abnormal protrusion of the jaw or alignment of the teeth. An underbite is specifically characterized by the lower jaw (mandibule) protruding beyond the upper jaw (maxilla), causing the lower front teeth to overlap those on top. This may be formed through a malformation of the jawbone (skeletal), a misalignment of the teeth (dental), or both.
An extreme underbite can cause a facial abnormality, resulting in an extended chin. Besides the aesthetic problem, underbites can also cause other problems, including difficulty with chewing, swallowing and speaking. Bite problems can caused the wear down of tooth enamel. Underbites have also been known to cause TMJ, a painful disorder of the jaw joint.
Not every treatment will completely eliminate the need for surgery later in life. But if the underbite is mild, your dentist may choose to do nothing and treat it with dental braces as a teenager or adult. Regardless of what type of procedure is used early on, braces are usually needed later to complete treatment.