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FAQ:  Underbite

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Underbite growing back: I am 16 and I had braces for 3 years. It corrected my underbite, but now that I am still "growing" it is moving back to its original position.

Is surgery the only way to fix it? Or is there another option I could take? I show horses, and being out of commission would hurt me deeply. Also I don't want an underbite nor my mouth wired shut for senior pictures. ...Visitor from MN

The appropriate treatment for your problem depends greatly on HOW MUCH your lower jaw grows.

If your underbite gets so much worse that your chin seems too far forward, you may be a candidate for surgery. If your underbite only gets a bit worse with growth and your facial appearance is not harmed by that growth, you may be a candidate for removal of some teeth (possibly two lower premolars) to resolve your problem.

But nothing can be determined until the growth ceases (Usually about age 17.5 in women and age 20 in men). Your senior photos (which you seem concerned about) will likely be taken before your treatment begins.

A perspective on surgery:
Depending on your orthodontist and surgeon, a surgical case can often be the easiest way to quickly resolve a bite problem (at the same time improving the face). A typical surgical patient can be in and out of braces in one year.

The idea of having your jaw wired shut (intermaxillary fixation) depends on your surgeon. I work with surgeons that rarely wire jaws shut; they generally place fixation plates (rigid fixation) in the jaws that were moved, thereby avoiding the struggles of eating and talking associated with jaw wiring.

Surgery is not the only way to fix your bite. But surgery may be the ONLY RIGHT WAY to fix your bite without harming your facial appearance. It all depends on how much your lower jaw continues to grow and if that growth leads to a facial appearance that warrants surgery.

Editorial Staff

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