Overbite vs. Underbite Differences
Depending on which teeth are involved (upper or lower) the front teeth overlapping one another will fall into the category of an overbite or an underbite. In either scenario, teeth are extending too far past their opposing biting partner. This can create a scenario where the teeth cannot bite or cut into food effectively.
Overbites and underbites are different types of malocclusions, requiring different types of treatments. Overbites are when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much when you close down. While underbites involve the lower teeth extending out farther than the upper teeth. This difference is important, as many people mistake overjets for overbites and vice versa.
What Is an Overbite?
An overbite is when you close your mouth and your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth beyond what is considered normal. An overbite is also called a deep bite or closed bite.
With an overbite, the top teeth may seem straight or appear jetted outward at an angle, away from your facial profile.
Overbites range in severity. The more severe they become the more specialized care required to treat them. This scenario can lead to atypical biting patterns and wear in other parts of your mouth. Not to mention changes in your TMJ movement when you’re chewing food. Even if an overbite doesn’t seem like much of an aesthetic priority, it can be a functional one. You may just not realize where the pain and atypical movement is coming from.
When your teeth bite together in a healthy, harmonious relationship (occlusion) the upper front teeth will slightly overlap the lower front teeth. But not by too much. If those teeth hit end-to-end, they would simply wear one another down. A slight overlap allows those teeth to function next to one another in a way that extends the overall lifetime and integrity of the enamel.
What Is an Underbite?
An underbite is when your lower front teeth overlap your upper front teeth with your jaw closed. In many cases, this is an issue of your lower jaw extending farther out than your upper jaw.
This may even cause the lower teeth to jet outward or protrude more on what seems like a “prominent” jaw. They’re just scenarios where the lower front teeth cover a portion of the upper front teeth.
Since underbites typically reflect too large of a lower jaw or too small of an upper arch, it’s common to need different types of treatment than someone with an overbite. Braces alone may not provide the most effective outcome. We will also need to consider things such as the alignment of other teeth in the mouth, width of the palate, and other anatomical factors.
In an ideal occlusion, the lower front teeth should always slip just behind the upper front teeth, although never quite hitting them. A small amount of overlap is needed, to prevent irregular enamel wear. But when an underbite occurs, those lower teeth protrude out too far forward, causing them to overlap the upper teeth, which then affects overall biting patterns throughout your mouth.
A Word on Crossbites
Crossbites are another common type of malocclusion. Only in this case, they tend to involve teeth a bit further back in the mouth instead of the front teeth (although crossbites can occur at the front of your smile, it’s much less common.) A crossbite is more like a localised overbite or underbite in just one or two teeth. When you’re looking at the way the back teeth bite together, the upper back teeth need to slightly protrude closer to the cheek than the lower teeth do, but not by very much. If they don’t — and they’re tilted a bit toward the tongue — and the lower teeth are closer to the cheek, it’s called a crossbite.
Anterior crossbites that affect the front teeth tend to look like teeth biting in different directions, with some tilted inward, others tilted outward, etc. Crowding may involve a crossbite, as might an underbite.
How To Treat an Overbite
Overbite treatment protocols will depend on the severity and nature of the overbite. It’s important to remember that a slight, natural overbite is completely fine. But to a certain extent, the overbite will impact everyday biting and chewing, which could lead to irregular wear patterns and jaw pain.
Some overbites are corrected through traditional orthodontics. Others may need additional orthodontic appliances, such as a palatal expander or another temporary device. Much of the treatment will depend on the unique placement of your teeth and what needs to be achieved through tooth movement.
Our Barrhaven Orthodontist will present the best option(s) available so that you know what to expect before committing to treatment. Results will vary, depending on the type of care plan you elect to complete. For instance, one might be modest and relatively effective whereas one involving orthognathic correction via surgery provides the best results.
How To Treat an Underbite
Underbites are best intercepted through early intervention and growth modification tactics. If we assess your child’s bite at a fairly young age, we can utilise orthodontic appliances that help with proper growth patterns. Otherwise, the treatment for an underbite can vary from advanced orthodontic care to corrective reconstruction.
Again, the type of treatment will depend on your unique oral anatomy. Our goal is to present all appropriate options so that you can play a key role in selecting the best treatment to fit your circumstances.
Book an Overbite or Underbite Consultation
Braces Haven offers comprehensive orthodontic treatments for all ages. If you suspect that your child has a bite concern, you’re looking for a second opinion, or you have questions about your smile, we encourage you to call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.