Learning All About Overbite and Underbite

A girl with bad teeth and underbite
  • Overbites and underbites are common dental malocclusions, with symptoms like jaw discomfort and difficulties in speaking or chewing.
  • Genetic factors, childhood habits like prolonged pacifier use or thumb sucking can cause these conditions.
  • Treatments for these issues range from orthodontic interventions like braces or aligners and tooth extraction to corrective surgery.
  • Early intervention, preferably during childhood, enables easier and less invasive treatment options, preventing future dental problems.
  • Consulting a dental professional for proper assessment and treatment is crucial for optimal dental health and self-esteem.

A perfect smile ranks highly among all the things people want to have in life. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have one they feel proud to show off. Malocclusion is one of the most common conditions affecting dental health that can affect the perfect smile everyone dreams of. One of the most common types of malocclusion are overbite and underbite. The two sound similar, but they are very different and can be problematic. This blog will explain what overbite or underbite is, symptoms, causes, treatment methods, and other relevant information you need to know.

What is an overbite?

An overbite occurs when your upper teeth extend too far over the lower teeth. An overlap of about 2-3mm is considered normal, but it becomes an overbite when the upper jaw extends too far out. Some symptoms of overbite include discomfort or pain in the jaw, difficulty chewing or speaking, and even teeth grinding. Genetic factors play a significant role in why someone might develop an overbite. It can also be caused by thumb sucking or pacifier use during childhood, prolonged bottle feeding, and tongue thrusting.

A girl sucking her thumb while holding a bunny toy

What is an underbite?

An underbite is the opposite of an overbite, where the lower jaw extends too far beyond the upper jaw. This condition is generally less common than an overbite. Not only is it less common, but it’s also considered more severe than an overbite. Some symptoms of underbite include difficulty speaking or chewing, misaligned teeth, and jaw pain. Underbites are typically caused by disproportionate growth of the lower jaw compared to the upper jaw, which genetics or habits like thumb sucking can influence.

Treatments for overbite and underbite

Both overbite and underbite can cause not only cosmetic concerns but also dental health issues. These conditions can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even speech difficulties in severe cases. That’s why seeking treatment is essential if you have an overbite or underbite. Treatment options may include the following:

Orthodontic treatment

If the condition is mild, orthodontic treatment such as braces or aligners can help shift the teeth into their proper position. Many people opt for Invisalign as it is discreet and less noticeable. But traditional metal braces can also effectively correct an overbite or underbite.

Tooth extraction

In some cases, tooth extraction may be necessary to create enough space for the teeth to move and align correctly. This is usually done in severe cases of overbite or underbite. Your orthodontist will decide to extract teeth after a thorough examination.

A dentist holding a dental instrument with a tooth


Corrective jaw surgery may be needed for more severe cases to correct the jaw’s position. This surgery can help improve both function and appearance. Most people who undergo this procedure also need braces or aligners to help maintain the correct position of their teeth.

Early intervention

Addressing overbites and underbites as early as possible, preferably during childhood, is essential. This allows for more manageable and less invasive treatment options, as the jaw is still growing and developing. Early intervention can also prevent potential dental health problems in the future.

Other concerns to note

Depending on the severity of your overbite or underbite, you may also experience other concerns. Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease

Misaligned teeth can be challenging to clean properly, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and tooth decay. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits is essential, and seeing your dentist regularly if you have an overbite or underbite.

Speech difficulties

In severe cases, overbites and underbites can cause speech difficulties, such as lisping or difficulty pronouncing certain words. Seeking treatment can help improve speech and overall confidence.

Self-esteem concerns

A noticeable malocclusion can cause self-esteem issues, especially in children and teenagers. Seeking treatment not only improves dental health but also boosts self-confidence.

The Role of a Dental Health Professional

To ensure the best possible treatment outcome, it’s crucial to consult a dental health professional if you suspect you or your child has an overbite or underbite. They will be able to assess the severity of the condition and recommend the most suitable treatment plan. Remember, early intervention can make all the difference in achieving a healthy and attractive smile. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you have concerns about your teeth or jaw alignment.

An overbite or underbite can cause discomfort or pain, affecting dental health and overall quality of life. Understanding both conditions, including their symptoms, causes, and treatment options, can help alleviate uncertainties and clarify the path to treatment. At the first sign of any symptom, it’s advisable to visit a specialist for a thorough exam. Proper dental care and treatment will eventually result in that perfect smile you long for.

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