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Underbite vs. Underjet: What Is the Difference?

Anatomy of an underbite
Being born with a perfectly aligned smile is relatively rare. Genetics and a number of factors while we’re babies can impact the way teeth grow in and the position of the teeth relative to one another. That’s why orthodontic care and corrective jaw surgery are available.

A number of patients suffer from a protruding lower jaw. Colloquially most people consider this an underbite, but there’s a fine distinction to consider regarding underbites and underjets (aka negative or reverse overjets). Our Lincoln, NE dental care team considers the differences between these types of malocclusion.

About Underbites

An underbite refers to cases in which the lower set of teeth is projected out further than the upper row of teeth. This is usually the result of poor jaw position. Sometimes underbites are especially pronounced.

Problems Caused by Underbites

An underbite can lead to a number of problems with proper dental alignment. Underbites can make biting and chewing more difficult, for example, and lead to issues with comfort when performing normal tasks. In addition, underbites can also affect facial appearance since it’s more ideal to have the jaw set back a bit rather than ahead of the upper set of teeth.

Treatments for Underbites

The nature of the underbite will determine the ideal option for treatment. Braces might be all that’s required for minor underbites, though headgear is typically the ideal option to consider. This orthodontic appliance helps gradually reposition the upper dental arch relative to the lower jaw for a more ideal dental alignment. Braces can then be used afterwards.

If the use of headgear is no longer viable, corrective jaw surgery can help change the position of the jaw and improve dental alignment in the process. Braces will then be used to help optimize the position of the teeth.

About Underjets (Negative Overjet)

An underjet is a type of underbite, but it is characterized by the way the lower teeth cover the upper teeth. When a person has an underjet, the lower teeth cover up part of the upper teeth. It’s almost like an ideal smile turned upside down in that regard. The amount by which the lower teeth jet over the upper teeth can vary, and obviously the greater the underjet, the worse this is for dental health.

Problems Caused by Underjets (Negative Overjet)

As with a normal underbite, an underjet can lead to discomfort when biting and chewing as well as increased risk for teeth grinding. The appearance of a smile can be extremely poor as a result of a severe underjet, which is why getting orthodontic treatment is so important.

Treatments for Underjets (Negative Overjet)

Like an underbite, the ideal option for treating an underjet will involve the use of headgear and braces. This ensure proper jaw position as well as optimal dental alignment. Oral surgery on the jaw may be required for sever underjets, or when traditional orthodontic procedures are simply not viable.

Learn More About Treating Malocclusion

For more information about treating malocclusion and various dental health problems, we encourage you to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist. Our team will answer all of your questions and address your concerns about dental wellness as they arise.

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Lincoln Office

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3401 Plantation Dr Ste 100
Lincoln, NE 68516

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My anxiety has been through the roof the past 3 weeks but I would have never imagined it could be so easy. Thank you Dr Glenn! He has made the whole experience amazing! If you are looking for a knowledgable, caring and talented surgeon, look no further! Dr. Andrew Glenn is awesome! I have never been a fan of the dentist's office!!!
Wanda Moses
June 2016

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