Question: My two-year-old has a slight underbite that seems to result from her lower jaw coming farther forward than her upper jaw (rather than due to lower teeth protruding outwards). Is this something that might self-correct over time? What is the earliest age when we’ll know it’s time to seek treatment if the underbite hasn’t changed? Also, can this be fixed without surgery? Thank you. – Lisa
Answer: You are right to ask this question even at her young age of two. This is not unusual to see at this age. The lower jaw can grow faster than the upper at this age. But it’s also not too early to worry about the long-term consequences. Once the lower front teeth are locked into position in front of the upper teeth, you run the risk of the upper jaw not growing to its full potential which may lead to the abnormal forward growth of the lower jaw.
It can be corrected with surgery, however, I’d consult with an orthodontist right now to see if you can prevent the need for surgery. There are plenty of removable appliances for the cooperative child, and plenty of fixed appliances for the not so cooperative child that will correct this imbalance of upper to lower jaw and preclude the need for surgery at a later date. I’d intervene early so it’s not a bigger problem later.
Mark Burhenne DDS