Underbite is a fairly common dental issue in which the bottom teeth actually protrude beyond the top teeth. In an “ideal” smile, the top and bottom teeth line up almost perfectly.
But for any number of reasons—genetics, thumb-sucking as a kid, or pushing on the teeth with the tongue—an underbite can appear.
Thankfully, an underbite rarely causes any serious issues if you decide not to treat it. That said, underbites can contribute to teeth misalignments, worn enamel (due to grinding your teeth at night), and in rare cases, bacteria build-up. Some people don’t like how their underbite makes their smile look, either.
With today’s advanced dentistry, there are lots of different ways to fix a crooked smile. Invisalign is one of the most well-known ones. But can Invisalign fix an underbite? In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Invisalign and underbites.
How Does Invisalign Work to Fix Underbite?
Can Invisalign fix an underbite? The short answer is, yes! Invisalign is actually one of the best treatment methods for underbite, no matter how severe your issue is.
In general, underbites have two main causes. First, the teeth themselves are positioned so they don’t align. Or, in tougher cases of underbite, the jawbone extends too far forward, making the bottom teeth extend past the upper ones. Thankfully, Invisalign can treat both types of underbite.
Technically speaking, Invisalign and braces are equally effective methods to treat an underbite because they accomplish the same thing. But instead of using brackets and wires, Invisalign uses clear trays that are molded to match your teeth, and by wearing your aligners, you gradually move your teeth into new, aligned positions.
But Invisalign actually takes it a step further: they offer elastics and their proprietary tooth-colored add-ons called SmartForce attachments. These can be fixed directly to your teeth, exerting more force on your teeth than clear aligners alone. That extra “oomph” allows Invisalign to move both your teeth and, if needed, your jaw itself. That’s why Invisalign can fix most bite issues.
Of course, your new perfect smile comes with a price: you’ll have to endure a little discomfort and wear your aligners religiously. If you don’t, your treatment won’t be effective. A lot of people like the convenience of removing their aligners to eat, drink, and clean their teeth. But if you’d be tempted to take them out in order to reduce your discomfort, then you may want to choose a more permanent method like traditional or clear braces.
How Long Will Invisalign Take To Correct My Underbite?
That’s a good question, and it’s a little tough to answer. The length of your treatment largely depends on what your underbite looks like today. If your underbite is pretty minor, you’ll spend much less time wearing your Invisalign aligners than someone with a more severe underbite. For example, if your underbite is caused by your jaw expanding too far forward, your orthodontist will need more time to pull it back into place using elastics and Smartforce attachments. The teeth shift more easily, so cases of dental underbite usually need less time.
That said, in general, most people can expect to wear their Invisalign aligners for 12 to 18 months. That’s the time it typically takes to move your teeth and your jaw as needed. There’s an exception, though. If you’re a candidate for Invisalign Express (essentially a smaller, cheaper version of Invisalign), your average treatment will last just 6 months.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix an Underbite With Invisalign?
Let’s be clear: whatever method you use to correct your smile, you’ll be making a significant investment. A perfect smile doesn’t come cheap, and Invisalign is no exception.
Since Invisalign is administered in person by individual orthodontists, it’s tough to nail down an exact price for Invisalign treatment. Of course, your orthodontist will charge you for the aligners themselves, but they will also add on the labor costs of preparing your aligners, your check-up appointments, and so on. Those fees vary from one orthodontist to another. On average, though, most people spend between $3,000 to $8,000 for Invisalign.
If your underbite is caused by your jaw’s shape or position, you can reasonably expect to pay more than someone who just needs their teeth straightened. That’s because your orthodontist will need to install extra attachments and elastics to shift the jaw back. Those installations take extra time, which in turn raises your price tag.
Can I Use an At-Home Clear Aligner Like Smile Direct Instead?
Ultimately, it depends on your specific case. Compared to home-based clear aligners like Byte and Smile Direct Club, Invisalign is a more powerful method that can correct nearly any underbite. At-home clear aligner products can correct some underbites, but not all.
Why? Because underbites are caused by two primary issues: the teeth themselves don’t line up, or the jaw bone isn’t aligned correctly. Moving the jaw so it lines up is possible, but it (understandably) requires more force. Home teeth aligners can only exert force on the teeth themselves, not the jaw. Invisalign—with the help of attachments added by your dentist—can do both. So, Invisalign is more effective at correcting moderate-to-severe bite issues than home teeth aligners.
That said, home-based clear aligners are much more convenient and affordable than Invisalign, so they’re worth considering if you only have a minor underbite.
The Best Home-Based Clear Aligners For Underbite
Smile Direct may be the most well-known home-based aligner company, but they’re honestly not our first pick. Our two favorite home-based clear aligners are Byte and Candid. Both are younger than Smile Direct and Invisalign, but they’ve already proved themselves as effective treatment methods for minor cosmetic cases of malocclusion and underbite.
Our all-time favorite home aligner is Byte. They’re an all-around good option. And if you’re in a rush to see your perfect smile, Byte has the shortest treatment lengths in the industry; most treatments last just 4 months. In contrast, most other home aligner companies last 6 months.
The quick treatments are largely thanks to Byte’s HyperByte device. Some orthodontists will offer a similar contraption at extra charge, but Byte includes it as a complimentary part of your treatment. Here’s how it works: you use the HyperByte for approximately five minutes a day. The HyperByte sends gentle, microscopic vibrations through your teeth and up to your roots. Not only does this help shift your teeth, but it also stimulates blood flow and helps reduce your treatment discomfort.
The HyperByte system is one of the main reasons Byte is our favorite treatment for mild cases of dental underbite. The high frequency vibration therapy keeps things quick and (relatively) painless.
Candid began as a fully remote clear aligner provider, but has recently pivoted to “CanidPro,” a hybrid at-home/in-office treatment option. Your treatment will be administered by a local dentist in the Candid network, and overseen remotely thanks to the sophisticated CandidMonitoring system.
Using your smartphone and a special imaging device included in your treatment bundle, you can upload progress photos to the Candid app every 10-14 days. The Candid team and/or your dentist will review these images, and make any necessary tweaks to your treatment. In some cases, you may be given the go-ahead to switch a near aligner early. This high level of oversight has the potential to shorten your treatment length a bit.
If you’re interested in the convenience of home aligners, but want the robust oversight of in-office care, look no further than Candid for help correcting a mild case of underbite.
Candid and Byte are our favorite home aligner companies, but they aren’t the only options, either. If you’re considering home aligners to treat your underbite, check out our comparison of the best at-home teeth straightening services.
When it comes to choosing a treatment method, we urge you to carefully consider all your options, and why you feel the need to correct your underbite to begin with. Underbite might make your smile look a little different, but odds are most people don’t even notice. So remember, whether you correct your underbite or leave it be, your future is still bright!
Thankfully, you have time on your side (since underbite rarely causes medical issues, you don’t have to rush to fix it). Since you have that time, our recommendation is to chat with your dentist about the best options for treating your underbite. And if you’re interested in at-home treatment, consider ordering an impression kit from Byte or scheduling an appointment with a Candid partnered dentist to see if you’re a candidate!