An underbite is hereditary condition in which the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw and the lower front teeth overlap the top teeth. To picture what this looks like, stand in front of a mirror and jut out your lower jaw. As you can see, this drastically changes your appearance. An underbite can also cause a malformation of the jawbone and misalignment of the teeth. Further, children may experience dental decay, difficulty eating or breathing and even speaking.
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An extreme underbite can cause a facial abnormality, resulting in an extended chin. Drastically changing a child's appearance, the malformation can make the child self-conscious. If not corrected, the underbite may impact the child socially and emotionally, and low self-esteem may cause the child to feel reluctant to engage in social activities.
Children with an underbite may experience chronic jaw or TMJ pain. If uncorrected, the underbite can potentially lead to temporomandibular joint disorder -- a misalignment or malfunction that puts excess pressure on the jaw joint. A debilitating condition, TMJD leads to head and cheek pain, a clicking or popping sound when you open and close your mouth, limited range of motion of the jaw joint, and other symptoms.
Bite problems can wear down tooth enamel. This increases the chance of developing tooth decay and other dental problems, including teeth becoming cracked or breaking due to misalignment when the jaw closes.
Children with an underbite may find chewing or biting into certain foods challenging and, in some cases, impossible, as well as swallowing food. As a result, eating may be difficult. Restricted eating can cause poor nutrition and diet, leading to further growth problems. If the underbite is not corrected, eventually the teeth may wear down prematurely or unevenly, furthering eating difficulties.
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