What’s the Difference Between an Overbite and an Underbite?

overbite vs underbite

Tuckahoe, NY – Are you or your child one of the many Americans who have a less than ideal bite, leading to a not-so-perfect smile? Orthodontic treatment can help, not just by providing a more beautiful smile, but by ensuring a properly functioning bite and a healthier mouth. 

Two of the most commonly treated malocclusions are overbites and underbites. What are the differences between the two, and how can you know if you or your child have one? Dr. Sam Polan of Tuckahoe Family Orthodontics explains more.

“Your teeth naturally overlap a bit – in a normal bite, your upper front teeth should cover your lower front teeth some when you bite down,” says Dr. Polan. “An overbite is present when there is too much of an overlap. On the contrary, an underbite is when your bottom front teeth overlap your top front teeth. Underbites can also give the appearance of a protruding chin.”

Overbites are sometimes referred to as “buck teeth” because the front teeth may appear to stick out. Several things may lead to an overbite, including:

  • Genetics
  • Excessive teeth grinding
  • Extending thumb-sucking or pacifier use
  • Tongue thrusting

Overbites can cause patients discomfort and cause serious issues if not treated. Overbites can lead to difficulty chewing and biting, jaw pain, problems with speech, difficulty breathing, gum disease, TMJ issues, and tooth decay. Spotting and treating overbites at an early age can prevent these more serious issues from occurring later in life.

If you have an underbite, your lower jaw pushes out forward of your upper jaw, causing your lower teeth to extend over your upper teeth. Like overbites, underbites can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as genetics, habits such as thumbsucking, injury, or trauma.

It’s important to treat underbites early so that the growth of the upper jaw can be corrected to accommodate the growth of the lower jaw. And as with overbites, correction can prevent other more serious issues, such as:

  • TMJ issues
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the jaw when eating
  • Chipping and breaking of teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Snoring
  • Mouth breathing

“The best way to determine if you have an overbite or an underbite that could benefit from correction is from a consultation with an orthodontist,” says Dr. Polan. “Untreated malocclusions can cause a lot of headaches, both literally and figuratively. While correcting these issues while the jaw is still growing is beneficial, we can help you get the smile you deserve and the healthy bite you deserve at any age.”

Dr. Polan and his team treat patients of all ages, beginning at the age of seven. While younger patients can benefit from guiding their jaw growth, there are still many great options for adult patients, as well. Call Tuckahoe Family Orthodontics today at 914-654-1859 for your complimentary consultation. 

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