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Overbite vs underbite: Differences to be aware of and how to treat

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Most people know what braces are and have a good idea of why they are recommended as the best way to fix crooked teeth. But they also have several other uses, including treating both underbites and overbites, which are common orthodontic issues.

If you're wondering about the differences between overbite vs underbite, this article has you covered. Our dental experts run through the key differences between the two and explain how to tell if you have an overbite or underbite, and what you can do about it.

Overbite vs underbite: How to diagnose

The first step in diagnosing an overbite or an underbite should be a trip to the dentist or orthodontist. A professional is best placed to examine your bite and help you determine if there is a problem that needs to be treated by braces or any other straightening devices.

If you want to know which type of bite you have before visiting the dentist, look into your mirror at home and smile naturally. If your upper teeth go far over your lower teeth, you have an overbite. If the adverse is true and your upper teeth site behind your lower teeth, you have an underbite.

What are the causes?

Most overbites and underbites are caused by genetics. If you have an underbite, it may be the case that your jaw didn't grow enough, while an overbite indicates that your lower jaw is too small. As a result, it's difficult to prevent an overbite or an underbite.

Though both can sometimes be caused by bruxism or chronic teeth grinding, this is less common. But if you think you have developed this condition and have noticed a shift in your teeth over time, it's best to let your orthodontist know during your initial consultation.

Underbite vs overbite - the effects of each

Though you can live perfectly normally with an overbite or underbite, you might want to get it treated if it's noticeable, causing you pain or impacting your confidence. We run through some of the effects of each type of bite below that you might experience without dental intervention:

Underbite

  • Jaw pain and general discomfort

  • Bruxism

  • Chewing and biting issues

  • Headaches and earaches

  • Increased risk of tooth decay

Overbite

  • Frontal teeth trauma

  • Speech problems

  • Difficulty biting or chewing hard foods

  • Airway obstruction and sleep disorder

  • Cosmetic concerns and a lack of confidence

Overbite vs underbite vs normal - what's the difference?

Having a little bit of overbite is completely normal and is actually how your teeth should be. This is because if there wasn't any overbite and your teeth were perfectly aligned, then your teeth would bang together each time you bite down.

Having too much overbite, however, is when there is a significant gap between your teeth when you bite down. The same is true of a underbite, but in the other direction.

Both can cause the issues listed above, so it's a good idea to arrange a consultation with your dentist or orthodontist to plan the best course of treatment.

Treatment options

The good news is that both an overbite and an underbite can be treated by an orthodontist. Different types of braces can be a great option for treating an underbite or an overbite, and your orthodontist will recommend which option is best for your teeth.

The treatment is available to children and adults, but many adults prefer to go with Invisalign compared to braces, which consist of clear retainers that are much less obvious than traditional metal or ceramic braces.

In cases of severe underbite or overbite, corrective jaw surgery may be required, but it is much less common than it used to be.

Recap: underbite vs overbite

The first step towards treating an overbite or underbite is recognizing that you have one or the other. As mentioned, you can do this yourself at home, but if you're unsure of whether you require treatment, you should book a consultation with a dentist or an orthodontist and seek their advice.

Most commonly, overbites and underbites are treated with braces or Invisalign, but in rare cases where there is a significant issue, corrective surgery may be required.

FAQ

Q1: Which is better underbite vs overbite?

Generally, underbites can lead to more severe issues than overbites, but neither should be ignored and you should seek orthodontic treatment if you think you have an underbite or an overbite.

Q2: Can an overbite or underbite be fixed?

Yes, an overbite can be fixed with braces. If you don't want to wear metal or ceramic braces, Invisalign is a viable alternative.

Q3: Does overbite and underbite get worse with age?

For most people, an overbite and an underbite get worse with age, as your teeth continue to shift. This is why it's so important to get it treated by an orthodontist as soon as possible to prevent issues later in life.

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