Overbite And Underbite: Causes And Treatments

by | Feb 15, 2021 | Oral Surgery

No matter how much we talk about inner beauty, some people still feel very self-conscious to put their crooked teeth on display while smiling. The undefined lower jaw and recessive chin make you look older than your age in an acute case of overbite. A severe underbite enhances the lower jaw in a person’s profile, which gives a bulldog-like appearance. This unnatural feature is known as a moon-face.

However, if it was only a matter of aesthetically unpleasing facial structure, you could live with it. But as you grow older, overbites and underbites are accompanied by a series of other oral health issues such as worn teeth, chronic headache and jaw pain, sleep apnea, speech impediment, and more.

So what is the fundamental difference between an overbite and underbite? How can you fix an overbite? How do you get an underbite correction? What are the types of malocclusion orthodontic treatments?

I am sure you are bubbling with a bunch of questions if you could relate to these issues. So, here are the causes and risks of misaligned bites and the treatment options at hand.


Overbite and underbite


What’s the Difference Between Overbite and Underbite?

In dentistry, occlusion suggests perfect teeth alignment – how the upper and lower jaw come close together, the upper teeth slightly overlapping the lower one. On the other hand, malocclusion refers to a malfunction of the oral cavity organs so that the upper and lower teeth don’t fit properly.

There are three different types of teeth misalignment: overbites, underbites, and crossbites.

Let’s discuss in further detail the first two conditions, which are more common than crossbites.

What Is an Overbite?

An overbite is a dental alignment issue where the upper jaw extends slightly and overlaps the lower teeth. Overbites are relatively common among patients and often more frequent than underbites.

Although, you don’t need to panic before a thorough check-up because a slight overbite of about 1-2 mm is quite natural due to the human skull’s fundamental structure. If the gap between lower and upper teeth is somewhere between 4-10 mm, that’s when you should worry. Deep overbites demand immediate treatment and fixing, preferably in childhood.

There are chances you may inherit this malocclusion genetically. Overbite patients typically have rounder faces and recessive chin, which alter the shape of their jaw and teeth. Depending on too little or too much space inside one’s mouth, teeth will grow, either crowding each other or being spaced out.

Other reasons that may cause an overbite are misfitted crowns, gum disease, or even thumb sucking. Without proper treatment, overbite will result in a string of acute ailments.

What Is an Underbite?

On the contrary, an underbite is a type of malocclusion where the lower teeth are projected ahead of the upper front teeth, caused by undergrowth of the upper jaw or overgrowth of the lower jaw.

While this kind of dental condition can run genetically, several other reasons can be pointed out behind its origin, such as tongue thrusting, breathing through the mouth, or the habit of thumb sucking as an infant.

A severe underbite can have critical repercussions, and we are not just talking about aesthetic concerns here. Many oral health problems will come up eventually following an underbite.


What Are the Risks of Having a Misaligned Bite?

A misaligned bite has its own set of risks and drawbacks associated with the degree of your condition.

  • Tooth decay – Tooth enamel wears out due to clenching and grinding, causing cavity and gum disease.
  • TMJ disorder – It may trigger severe headaches, chronic pain in the jaw, clicking and locking of the jaw joints.
  • Speech problems – Speech and articulation are often impaired due to misaligned bites. Protruded upper jaw may cause strain in opening or closing the mouth completely.
  • Difficulty in eating – Even nutrition may suffer a great deal as constant tooth and jaw pain won’t let a person eat properly.
  • Oral hygiene issues – Overbites or underbites can be an obstacle in brushing your teeth or maintaining other oral care routines.
  • Mouth breathing – Malocclusion can turn mouth breathing into a chronic ailment.
  • Biting and chewing issue – It might get tough to bite and chew your food with displaced and crooked teeth setting.
  • Low self-esteem – All that being said, it cannot be overlooked that a severe overbite hampers one’s confidence level because the structure of your face may not look visually appealing. A patient will always be self-conscious about their appearance.


Overbite and underbite treatment


How to Treat Overbite and Underbite?

Overbites and underbites are very much treatable. Orthodontists generally manage these misalignment conditions. Overcrowding of teeth is one of the most visible symptoms among children, which may grow into further complexities if not treated right away.

The sooner it is diagnosed, the better. There are several procedures available depending on the age of the patient and the extremity of the malocclusion. The treatment can take quite some time, lasting for up to a few years.


For children and teenagers, braces can do wonders. Braces are wire-based corrective tools to pressurize crowded teeth and misaligned jaws to bring them on a straight line over time.


Aligners are more like a clear, plastic-made form of braces. Transparent aligners are a popular choice among adults as they are pretty much invisible and don’t hamper daily activities.


Retainers are prescribed after the braces are taken off to hold the teeth intact at their places. Retainers are removable, and patients are responsible for putting them back on every day or just at night, as suggested by the orthodontist.

Tooth Extractions

Tooth extractions are a minimal surgical procedure that helps to make room in the mouth so that the crowded teeth can have some space to be aligned.


Underbite and overbite surgeries are performed in severe cases to correct a misaligned jaw’s shape. Dentists can move the maxilla and mandible forward or backward as required.



I hope we have been able to provide satisfactory answers to all your queries. Now you know, no one is stuck with an overbite and underbite forever.

If you are not happy with how your teeth or jaw structure looks, make the first move towards change. Schedule an appointment today and join us at Laguna Vista Dental in Elk Grove, CA. Our team of esteemed dental professionals is keen to make oral surgery and tooth extraction a safe and painless experience for you. We make sure you feel confident and don’t hide a smile ever again!

Krystle Fenton

Krystle Fenton

Krystle Fenton is the owner and lead dentist at Laguna Vista Dental in Elk Grove, CA. Dr. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Andrews University. She then went on to Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, where she graduated with honors and is a member of the prestigious Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) National Dental Honor Society. Dr. Fenton is a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and Sacramento District Dental Society. In her time away from the office, Dr. Fenton enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, spending time outdoors and watching movies.

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