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In our area, only a small number of individuals develop an underbite (2 – 3 %). But it is the orthodontic problem that may require the most intervention. The problem is that growth works against these individuals to make the bite worse and worse. Surgery becomes the only solution in some of these individuals if nothing is done. Intervention starting around age eight can be highly effective to minimize the negative effects of growth, but treatment is often prolonged. The goal of early treatment is to normalize facial form early, modify growth, and avoid the need for surgical intervention.

Drawing on research and clinical experience Dr Oppenhuizen uses a technique that is proving to be quite effective. Placing braces on all the permanent and primary teeth we utilize the efficiency of elastics in a young child to rapidly advance the upper teeth and retract the lower teeth creating a large overbite. This can be accomplished in a few months. The facial and dental change is dramatic. We supplement the correction with an underbite headgear for home use at night.

The Underbite Headgear uses the forehead as an anchor to move the jaw forward and supplement upper jaw development The problem most frequently with an under bite is that the upper jaw is underdeveloped and lags behind the lower jaw. The headgear holds the correction and modifies growth.

Our technique reduces the time necessary with the headgear to get outstanding results. Wearing the headgear during sleeping hours is adequate. The typical approach utilizing only the headgear and an expander is much slower; which can discourage compliance. Also, it is necessary to wear the headgear nearly 24 hrs/day to eventually accomplish in a year or more what we routinely see in a handful of months with our approach.

The chin can sometimes become irritated and chafed from the underbite headgear. A piece of cloth cut to the shape of the chin piece works quite well to help this problem. There are additional solutions if the problem continues.

The biggest problem by far with an underbite is the unique, insidious nature of growth in these individuals. Because growth works against facial harmony, an ongoing protocol with the Underbite Headgear may be necessary to keep the upper jaw in harmony with the advancing lower jaw.