Most parents will tell you that it’s not a fun time when your toddler is teething. Parents breathe a sigh of relief when those adorable little baby teeth are finally out. As their child moves into their 2s and 3s, they may notice that their baby’s lower teeth are sitting forward of their upper teeth. Is a baby underbite in a 1-year-old normal? Will your toddler outgrow their underbite? Is an underbite in a 3-year-old cause for concern? 

In rare cases, a child can outgrow an early underbite. Most of the time, however, that child will need orthodontic care to fix their underbite before it causes other issues. Freeman Orthodontics’ staff often hears parents’ questions about their child developing an overbite or underbite at an early age. They want to know whether they can do anything to keep their child’s underbite from getting worse.

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What Causes an Underbite?

An underbite is a type of malocclusion or a bad bite. An underbite is when the lower front teeth overlap the upper ones instead of the other way around, which is normal. An underbite can change a person’s facial appearance, causing it to look as if the lower jaw is jutting forward. Some patients may feel self-conscious about their underbite. In extreme cases, patients may experience pain, problems speaking or chewing, or additional health problems caused by their inability to chew properly. 

Several factors can cause an underbite. The most common is simple genetics. If one or both parents have underbites, there’s a good chance the child will have an underbite, too. Aside from genetics, a child can develop an underbite from overuse of a pacifier or from sucking their thumb. These can also cause overbites or open bites. That’s why we strongly recommend you stop your child’s pacifier or thumbsucking habit as soon as possible, but definitely by age 2.

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My Toddler Has an Underbite! Now What?

What do you do if you suspect your child has an underbite? Your child should start seeing a dentist as soon as the first tooth appears. Your dentist may spot potential problems, such as an underbite or overbite. They may recommend your child eventually see an orthodontist if the problem is minor, or they may recommend seeing one right away if it looks like the problem is getting worse. 

When should your child see an orthodontist? The American Orthodontic Association recommends an orthodontist evaluate your child by age 7, but you can have your child’s bite checked if you suspect an issue before that. If you’re in the San Jose, CA, area, you can set up an appointment for your child with Freeman Orthodontics. Dr. Freeman can look at your toddler’s underbite and let you know at what age you should correct the underbite, whether it needs to be now or it can be later. 

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Will My Toddler’s Underbite Correct Itself?

In very rare cases, an underbite can correct itself. A baby’s skull grows and develops rapidly in their early years, and sometimes the lower jaw can grow faster than the upper jaw, giving a slight underbite. As the rest catches up, the underbite corrects itself. 

This doesn’t always happen, which means that sooner or later, your child will need orthodontic treatment or some type of treatment to help the jaws develop properly. Children could be given chin caps, reverse face masks, or palate expanders to even out the growth of the jaws while they’re still very young. Otherwise, they can begin treatment with braces or clear aligners in a few years. Either way, it’s best to begin treatment at a young age when the bones are still growing and malleable. It makes treatment easier and more comfortable.

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Treating Underbites in San Jose, CA

Freeman Orthodontics treats children and patients of all ages with braces or clear aligners. If you suspect your child needs orthodontic treatment, start with our virtual consultation and describe the potential issues. We’ll bring you in to give your child a full examination and determine what treatment they might need and when they will need it.  

Your toddler’s underbite may not be cause for concern initially, but if it continues to develop, we’ll be there for you and your child.

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