Dr. Greg Jorgensen
(505) 891-9440
1401 Barbara Loop SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

The Jorgensen Orthodontics Blog

Can’t I just get orthodontic braces on my bottom teeth?

Posted by Dr. Jorgensen on March 25th, 2011

My teeth were perfect until my wisdom teeth came in. Now the lower ones are all messed up. Can’t I just get braces on my lower teeth and put them back where they were?

Single arch treatment is possible… under the right circumstances. The determining factor is the relationship between the lower and the upper front teeth (commonly referred to as “the bite.”) The depth of the bite as well as the amount of “overbite” both figure in to the decision.

When crooked or overlapping teeth are straightened with braces, they move forward. If you have and overbite before treatment, aligning the crooked bottom teeth will improve it. If your front teeth come together in an edge-to-edge or underbite relationship at the start of treatment, treating the lower teeth only may actually make matters worse. As the lower teeth move forward, the front teeth may not come together at all after treatment. Although the teeth may look straighter, the bite may be worse.

One of the most common reasons the teeth get crooked with age is the deepening of the bite. As the backs of the upper teeth “push down” on the lower front teeth, they tend to push them back making them overlap (they “collapse”). In these cases there is usually no clearance between the backs of the upper teeth and the fronts of the lowers. Without clearance, it is impossible to realign the lower front teeth without repositioning the uppers too. Space between the upper and lower teeth is necessary because the lower teeth will move forward as they are straightened.

One option that can be considered as an alternative to full upper and lower braces in the case of lower crowding is InterProximal Reduction (IPR), also known as Air-Rotor Stripping (ARS) or slenderizing. Using thin diamond disks or files, small amounts of enamel are polished away from the sides of the crooked teeth providing the room needed for their alignment. Teeth altered in this way may not need to move forward as they are aligned.

In more severe cases of lower crowding, the removal of a single front tooth may also be considered. This is an attractive option if one of the lower teeth is badly worn or there are problems with the overlying gums or bone. Eliminating a tooth that has lost its support can actually be a blessing if keeping it will require extensive gum grafting or aggressive slenderizing of perfectly normal teeth.

NOTE: The author, Dr. Greg Jorgensen, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb on the Westside of Albuquerque). He was trained at BYU, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa in the United States. Dr. Jorgensen’s 25 years of specialty practice and nearly 10,000 finished cases qualify him an expert in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems (including conventional braces, Damon and other self-ligating brackets, Suresmile, and lingual braces). This blog is for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. Jorgensen is licensed to diagnose and treat patients only in the state of New Mexico. He cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can he select treatment plans for readers. Please understand that because he has tens of thousands of readers each month, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO RESPOND TO EVERY QUESTION. Please read all of the comments associated with each article as most of the questions he receives each week have been asked and answered previously. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.

37 comments so far in response to “Can’t I just get orthodontic braces on my bottom teeth?”

  1. dipika kk says:

    I had braces to my upper teeth and two teeth wer removed for the space. Now i am having bite problem i do not feel it balanced.I am confused,should i fixed braces nw lower teeth also…my upper teeth procedure have been completed already and now im having retainer to my upper teeth from backside of the teeth.But to fix braces to the lower teeth i need to remove my extra teeth which is stucked into my bone of lower jaw behind the pointed 4th teeth.Doctor said before braces this teeth need to be removed by small surgery as its visible only in xray.But doctor has not given me 100% garantee that my bite will be fine.He told me that he will try and given only 60% surity.

    • I cannot choose a treatment plan for you, but your predicament is a perfect example of why I always do braces in both arches at the same time and not just one arch. Your teeth are a set and must be corrected together

  2. Sonali R. says:

    When I got my braces off, my teeth had a nice and snug bite. When I started wearing my plastic retainer, a tooth on the upper level got turned in, and it is in the way of all my teeth biting down snugly. Maybe they made a mistake? My orthodontist is closed for 2 weeks so will it be unfixable by the time I go there? Also can the retainer be remade so that the tooth is not in the way anymore?

    • I would not call it a mistake. There is always some variability when you construct a retainer. Just keep wearing it until your orthodontist is opened again and he can adjust or replace it at that time.

  3. Risse says:

    my top teeth are perfect. Three of my bottom teeth are pushing in due to overcrowding on the bottom and I would like to have it fixed. My orthodontist never mentioned getting a tooth out, I should have asked that. Instead he advised top and bottom. If i just get bottom is this a big problem? They are the 6 month fast braces.

    • I am not a fan of doing braces in only one arch. Your teeth are a set and it is virtually impossible to align one arch and have it still match the other arch if no treatment was rendered there. I would recommend that your doctor is actually and orthodontist (a specialist) and not just a dentist doing braces. There is a big difference.

  4. Happy says:

    I read this with interest as I just had my braces removed — I had both upper and lower braces for a bite issue and I am very happy with the results. It was a 29-month procedure. The same day I had mine removed, a older friend of mine had braces put on his bottom teeth only. One of his front teeth was also extracted prior to the braces. I do not know everything that is being done in his case, but based on what I went through with my bite (due to incorrect braces I had done 30 years ago), I am glad I did both upper and lower braces simultaneously. 30 years ago, the orthodontist at the time straightened my teeth with no regard for my bite.

    Thank you for your blog. As a consumer I appreciate the opinions from a board-certified professional with your experience.

  5. Lexi says:

    Hi I am a teenage girl and my mom doesn’t think I need braces but I do! I want to know what u think… I have really good too teeth but crooked bottoms and they are not like terrible but I think they are kinda bad mainly the front bottom ones. I do have an overbite but it is also not TERRIBLE.DO U THINK I DO OR DO NOT NEED BRACES?

    • I can’t diagnose you on the Internet Lexi. Only a local orthodontist can do that. It sounds to me like you could benefit from treatment. Sometimes braces don’t fit into a families budget, so parents kind of see what they want to see because they know what they can afford. Please be nice to your mom. I’m sure she loves you and wants the best for you.

  6. Hi! I am having so much trouble with my bottom teeth. My top teeth dont give me much trouble. But my two front bottom teeth are crooked and pushed together. They make it very hard to clean and sometimes even painful! And i have two others on my left side that are also pushed to close. My orthodontist never said anything about braces. Do you think that i should bring it up or not???

    • Did you mean your “orthodontist” or your “dentist?” A dentist is thinking more about cleaning and repairing your teeth than he is about straightening them. An orthodontist is a specialist who focuses only on the alignment of your teeth. I’d be surprised if an orthodontist didn’t say something about crooked teeth.

  7. Almerah says:

    Can i ask something… Is it appropriate if I would like a brace only on my lower mandible??? coz my upper teeth are good, but lower teeth are totally crooked… Thanks. i really need an answer. And i would appreciate it.

    • Treating the lower arch only (especially if “totally crooked”) is almost impossible. Your upper and lower teeth are a set and you have to adjust both so they will fit together after the lower ones are in their new positions.

  8. Shai says:

    Hi doc. I have a lower crooked front teeth doc.And my upper front teeth were being affected.I was planning to have braces and i need your opinion about my case.I only have one option whether i have my upper teeth have the braces or my lower teeth.Which is best doc?thank you so much

    • I cannot give an opinion on your teeth specifically, but you will rarely find an orthodontist that will only treat the upper or the lower separately. The teeth are a set and should be corrected together so that the bite is correct afterwards

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