Should I Get Invisalign for My Underbite?
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Table of Contents
- All About Underbites
- Aligners Fix Underbites
- Candidates for Aligners
- Potential Drawbacks
- Alternative Therapies
If you have an underbite, your dentist may recommend an innovative solution. Rather than using braces to fix the problem, you could use Invisalign for underbite treatment.
It's true that Invisalign can amend some types of underbites. Clear trays slide over your teeth, and you replace them on a schedule set by your dentist. In time, your teeth take up new positions, and your underbite disappears.
Compared to other aligners, Invisalign can treat some more severe cases of underbite. However, one potential trade-off is that Invisalign can cost more than alternatives.
All About Underbites
Your upper palate should be slightly longer and wider than your lower palate. When you close your mouth, your upper teeth should jet out and cover your bottom teeth. When that doesn't happen, and your lower teeth push forward instead, this is an underbite.
Dentists use the term malocclusion to describe a less-than-ideal jaw placement, like an underbite. These issues are relatively common. For example, in some studies, about 31 percent of people have a malocclusion.
Just because they're somewhat common doesn't mean an underbite isn't harmful. Leave the issue alone, and you could deal with:
- Chipped teeth. Your lower teeth could hit your upper teeth too often, and damage results.
- Pain. If your muscles are stretched too far and work too hard, it can cause discomfort.
- Difficulty. You might find it hard to eat without spitting or talk without lisping.
Keeping your teeth clean is tough when you have an underbite too. Researchers say that the impact on oral health by an untreated underbite is significant. You could deal with cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and more.
How Aligners Fix an Underbite
Assessments start the treatment process. Your dentist looks at your teeth and creates molds of them. With that information, you'll understand why your lower jaw juts forward.
Your underbite could be caused by:
- Tooth placement. Your teeth could lean forward or backward, forcing your jaw to do the same.
- Crowding. If you have too many teeth too close together, your jaw could push forward in response.
- Jaw length or width. If your lower jaw is too long or your upper arch is too narrow, an underbite could result.
With a deep understanding of your tooth problem, your dentist uses computers to create a step-by-step smile revision plan. You'll get a series of plastic trays that slide over your teeth. Each tray is different and represents a step on your journey to better oral health.
You visit your dentist regularly for checkups and new trays. Some dentists give several at once, but others rely on visits for you to get the new versions.
Are You a Good Candidate?
The Invisalign corporation says their aligners can be used to treat some cases of underbite. Whether you are a candidate depends on the severity of your underbite.
For example, if your lower jaw is too long, aligners can't help. These tools can push your teeth around, but they can't remove bone or change jaw shape. Only surgery can do that.
Similarly, if your teeth are significantly rotated, aligners may not be ideal. Trays can push teeth forward and back, but adjusting rotation could require a more significant form of help.
Potential Drawbacks of Invisalign for Underbite Correction
If you are a good candidate for Invisalign, should you take the leap right away? It's important to understand that this kind of treatment isn't right for everyone.
Some reasons that Invisalign may not be a fit can include:
Severity of Underbite
Alternate Therapies to Consider
Invisalign can help some cases of underbite, but you have plenty of other options.
Braces, for example, have been used for years to help people with underbites. Your orthodontist glues brackets to your teeth, and wires connect them. As the wire shortens and adjusts, your teeth move into their proper positions. If your dentist adds on headgear or elastics, your jaw problems could be properly addressed.
While braces are effective, they are also:
- Costly. Prepare to pay thousands. Some insurance plans won't cover the full fee.
- Uncomfortable. Metal bits can poke and prod at your lips and gums.
- Hard to clean. Your teeth can suffer from bacterial attacks, as you won't be able to brush or floss effectively.
- Easy to see. People often feel self-conscious while wearing braces.
If braces don't seem right to you, consider at-home aligners. You'll get the same sort of treatment you'd get with Invisalign. A doctor will supervise your care, and you'll move through a series of trays until your mouth takes the proper shape. But you'll skip the office visits and higher costs.
In studies, at-home aligners are associated with high satisfaction rates. When the treatment is complete, people are happy with their smiles.
At-home aligners can move your teeth quicker than you might think too, especially if they're paired with a vibration device. The movement helps to seat the teeth within the trays, and the gentle motion helps to soothe pain too. Studies show that these devices can help to shorten treatment times for people with underbites.
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Impact of Malocclusions on the Oral Health-Related Quality of Life of Early Adolescents in Ndola, Zambia. (June 2018). International Journal of Dentistry.
Effects of Orthodontic Treatment on Self-Confidence: Perspective Survey by Dental Hygiene Students. (August 2011). Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene.
Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics: Surveying the User Experience. (August 2020). The Journal of the American Dental Association.
The Use of High-Frequency Vibration and Clear Aligners in Management of an Adult Patients with Class III Skeletal Malocclusion With Open Bite and Severe Bimaxillary Protrusion: Case Report. (July 2020). New Frontiers in Orthodontics.