As your child's jaw grows, you might notice that the bottom teeth are starting to sit even with, or jut past, the top row. When this happens, it is referred to as an underbite and it can continue to worsen throughout childhood. Leaving an underbite untreated can result in advanced tooth decay and wear. Furthermore, your child may experience difficulties with speaking and eating properly. Luckily, treating an underbite is easiest at an early age due to the malleability of the jawbones, so you should take action as soon as you notice the problem. A pediatric dental professional will likely try one of the three following treatments.
Pediatric dentists can skillfully add veneers to your child's top row of teeth to gently pull the upper and lower jaw into the right positions. This procedure generally only works for slight underbites. Since bite position tends to worsen with age, it is a smart way to preemptively reverse underbite progression. The veneers will be slightly longer than your child's teeth to bring the upper row forward. Over time, your child's jaw should grow into this new position, at which time her or she can elect to have the veneers removed to reveal the natural row of teeth.
Rapid Palatal Expander
In many cases, widening the upper jaw allows the lower jaw to fall back into natural alignment. To expand the upper jaw, dentists often utilize a dental device called a rapid palatal expander. If your child has any tooth crowding in the upper row, the expander will help make more room, so the crowded teeth can straight out. This device hooks around the rear molars and sits against the roof of the mouth. You will usually need to turn the central key to gently widen the expander on a regular basis.
Braces and Facemask
For severe underbites, pediatric dental professionals may use a combination of braces and a facemask. The headgear rests on the chin and forehead with band attachments that connect to the braces. The rubber bands gently pull the jaw into place over the course of a year or so. The mask is usually worn for the majority of the day to continually pull the jaw into position. Although the facemask seems like an invasive device, most kids adjust to wearing it within a week.
Creating A Comprehensive Treatment Plan
You will play a vital role in determining the best course of treatment for your child. If the full range of noninvasive treatments do not produce the desired result, you may need to elect to have your child undergo jaw surgery to move the upper and lower portions into the correct place. Since dental surgeons will not perform jaw surgery until your child is fully grown, there is plenty of time to try different noninvasive treatments in hopes that they will eventually have a positive effect.
For more information, contact a pediatric dentist at a clinic like Dino Kids DDS.