There are 4 million people in the United States who wear braces. Teeth that are not correctly aligned is a common issue for many and can lead to several health and self-confidence related problems. A lesser-known issue that people deal with is a “bad bite.” You’ve likely heard them referred to as underbites, overbites, and crossbites. Braces can potentially help with this issue. Read on to learn all about braces for an overbite or underbite.

What Is a Prognathism?

Prognathism is a technical term used to describe a protrusion of the jaw. This causes the upper and lower teeth to become improperly aligned called a malocclusion. Underbites are less common than overbites with about 5-10% of the American population having the condition.

An underbite consists of the lower jaw or mandible protruding past the upper. Overbites are just the opposite and sometimes lead to “buck teeth.” Crossbites often occur in combination with one of the other two conditions. This is when the teeth shift to one side causing a misalignment in where the upper and lower center of the teeth sit.


There are a variety of causes for this condition. Firstly, this can be simply due to the shape of the facial bones a person was born with. However, there may be other underlying conditions that have caused this to occur.

Hereditary conditions such as Crouzan syndrome and basal cell nervous syndrome have the potential to cause the condition. It may also develop over time due to excess growth associated with gigantism or acromegaly.

Ther are certain habits in children that may cause the jaw to grow incorrectly such as:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Bottle usage
  • Mouth breathing
  • Chewing on objects
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Pacifiers


This condition can vary in severity. Even when the condition is mild, there are some complications that you should consider.

  • Persistent pain
  • Tooth loss and decay
  • Chewing difficulties
  • Gum disease
  • Speach issues

Conditions like this can make it difficult to clean your teeth and TMJ. Beyond health concerns, half of Americans say that they are unhappy with their smile. Facial abnormalities can occur because of these conditions causing a major hit to self-confidence. Often an underbite will cause the face to appear angry or unhappy.

Braces for an Overbite or Underbite

Intervention is the best medicine when it comes to treating this condition. So, how do braces work for an overbite or underbite?

They are an effective treatment for the majority of cases. A full examination including x-rays, molds, and photographs is the first step. Your orthodontist will be able to assess how successful braces will be and what the best treatment plan will be.

Braces adhere to both the upper and lower teeth to align them. Rubber bands, or elastics, are used during the second phase to shift the jaw into a proper position. The rubber bands attach to the brackets and are removable for when you eat and conduct your hygiene routine.

The elastics work to apply constant pressure and need to be worn the majority of the time. After braces, a fixed and or removable retainer keeps the work in place.

Are There Other Options?

Although braces are the most common way of treating overbites and underbites, some other options may work for you. The results will greatly depend on each situation.

Clear Aligners

Braces aren’t always everyone’s first choice when it comes to appearances. There are clear aligner options available for those whose condition is less severe.

It may be possible to use Invisalign® for an overbite or underbite. They are made of clear plastic and can be removed for certain activities. However, they should be worn for at least 22 hours a day.

Upper Jaw Expander

This option is more common for younger children who are still growing. This appliance consists of wire and plastic. It is fixed to the upper portion of the mouth. At night, a key widens the appliance throughout treatment and until completion.


There are situations when the condition is too severe to be treated with appliances. Braces may still be used as a preface to orthognathic surgery to get teeth into the correct position. They will likely need to be worn for a period after surgery as well.

Corrective jaw surgery can correct the alignment of the jawbones. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a dentist who has additional training, performs the surgery. Jaw surgery should not be performed until growth has stopped.

When to Start Treatment?

The earlier that you begin treatment, the better. Less intense options are more successful in young children who are still growing. Treatment for adults is more limited but still possible in some cases. This also depends on the severity of the case and if the condition is dental or skeletal.

Underbites may also prove to be more of a complication than overbites. Starting treatment for this condition as early as possible is important to successful results.

How Long Does It Take to Fix?

Again, the severity of the condition will cause variation in the treatment plan. With braces, if your teeth need aligning and your jaw needs repositioning you can expect to wear them for about two years. Afterward, a retainer is still needed.

Smiling Bright

Overbites and underbites pose numerous complications when it comes to the health and appearance of a smile. It’s recommended to get ahead of the problem and seek treatment as soon as possible. You’ll be on your way to the brightest smile with using braces for an overbite or underbite.

We would love to assist you on your journey to the perfect smile! Contact us today to get started with an examination.