Underbites are a fairly common problem among people who seek out teeth straightening solutions like braces. But for some people, underbites go beyond a few millimeters of space between where the upper and lower teeth are supposed to meet. When an underbite is severe, it does more than impact your appearance. It can have an overall effect on your health and daily life. Here are three ways that your severe underbite may be impacting you.

Speech Difficulty

Many people with severe underbites have some form of difficulty with speaking clearly. This is usually limited to enunciation problems, but that may be all it takes for others to think you're slurring your speech or aren't speaking up.

The reason for this problem is because of the lower jaw and the tongue. The tongue normally lies fairly flat in the bottom of the mouth, and when you speak, it has room to extend, lift, and change position depending on the sound you want to make. However, when you don't have enough space on your lower jaw, the tongue is cramped. This can make it harder to get your tongue clear of your lower teeth to speak clearly, and it can occasionally make you slur words or mumble.


Another problem big underbites often cause is a condition called TMJ, or TMDD. This condition, temporomandibular joint disorder, is a problem with the joint that acts as a hinge between the upper and lower jaw.

With a normal jaw, the lower and upper teeth rest against each other over the entire span of the row of teeth. However, when your lower jaw is too short, there isn't as much space for the teeth to rest against each other. This means that stress ends up developing on the joints themselves. This can cause stiffness, pain, and in some extreme cases, even the locking of the jaw joints.

Eating Problems

The final problem that a serious underbite can cause is difficulty in eating. Some people with seriously shortened jaws have difficulty opening their mouths wide enough. In other cases, chewing may be difficult if your upper and lower teeth don't match up properly.

While it might seem like this isn't a big deal, digestion starts in the mouth, not the stomach. By properly chewing, you allow your saliva to move around and start breaking down food long before it gets to your stomach. But when you can't tear apart and grind your food properly, this process doesn't work as effectively, and it can lead to stomach discomfort.

For people with severe underbites, braces may not be enough. Thankfully, orthognathic surgery can help you by moving the lower jaw forward. This is a common practice that allows the jaw to be extended to a normal length, eliminating the above problems. If you're tired of having a severe underbite, set up a consultation with a surgeon.