Understanding Overbite: A Comprehensive Guide for Facts and Solutions

  Jan 18, 2024
Reviewed by Geeta Singh

Try to close your jaws and observe your teeth. Can you notice the vertical overlap of your front teeth over your lower teeth? This condition of teeth overlap is called an overbite.

Every individual has this problem to some extent. According to a study, 70.5% of people have normal overbites, whereas 27.5% of the population has deep bites.

As you wish to keep your jaw healthy as you age, getting treatment for this issue seems indispensable. However, if you wish to maintain your facial aesthetics, you should get a proper treatment.

In the following sections, we have mentioned everything about overbites.

What is an Overbite?


An overbite is a type of misalignment of teeth present in the upper and lower jaws. It occurs when the upper teeth protrude beyond the lower teeth.

It’s important to understand that some asymmetry in the alignment of your teeth is normal. However, when you have a deep bite between your upper and lower teeth, it can create some dental problems over time.

To have a better understanding, watch this YouTube video by The Look Orthodontists:

What are the Different Types of Overbite Teeth?

There are different types of overbite, which are broadly classified as follows-

  • Skeletal overbite: It occurs when the jaw size doesn’t fit the size of the teeth. This size difference causes an overlap between teeth and could happen due to some underlying irregularity in jawbone development.
  • Dental overbite: It occurs when both the jaws are perfectly aligned, but the tooth alignment is asymmetric. 

Based on severity, overbites are divided into three groups- 

NameSize rangeCauseType of treatment
Normal overbite2-4 mmGenerally dentalNone
Deep overbite4-8 mmDental or skeletalNon-surgical
Severe overbite9 mm or moreDental or skeletalSurgical and non-surgical 

What Causes Overbite Teeth?

Overbite usually occurs due to genetic factors. Traits such as jaw shape and overall facial structure can play a role in determining the arrangement of teeth in your oral cavity. 

In many cases, overbite can also be hereditary and passed on from one generation to the next. Here is a list of a few major and minor causes:

Major CausesMinor Causes
GeneticThumb sucking as a child
HereditaryExcessive use of bottles as a baby
Improper fetal (baby inside a woman’s womb) development Tongue thrusting
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disordersNail biting
Bruxism (teeth grinding)Chewing pens, pencils, etc

What are the Symptoms of an Overbite?

Symptoms of an overbite jaw are typically detected based on appearance. While biting down (3.5 mm or more), if most of your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth, it indicates you have overbite. The symptoms can also be differentiated into major and minor ones.

Major SymptomsMinor Symptoms
Excessive vertical overlap between your upper and lower teethJaw pain
Crooked teethUnclear speech
Difficulty in movement of the mouth Discomfort in eating
Protruding upper jawPoor face structure
Head and earaches

What is the Difference Between Overbite and Other Bite Problems?

When there is a significant overlap between your upper and lower front teeth, it is known as a deep bite. This leads to unpleasant facial alignment and affects your confidence to smile confidently again

Although tooth overbite and deep bites are quite common, they should not be confused with other bite problems.

Overjet and overbite

In the following part, we have explained the types of bites so you can differentiate between them when you see one. 

  • Overjet: Excessive horizontal overlap between the front upper and lower teeth.
  • Open bite: Existence of a gap between the upper and lower front teeth when you bite or clench your teeth.
  • Crossbite: The top layer of teeth overlaps with the lower layer.
  • Underbite: The entire lower jaw shifts forward, and the upper teeth hide behind the lower layer.

What are the Effects of Overbite on our Body?

A slight misalignment may not necessarily create complications. However, if you have visibly abnormal tooth alignment, it may lead to minor or, in some cases, critical health complications. We have listed a few effects of Overbite on our bodies below:

  1. Difficulty in jaw movements
  2. Unclear speech delivery
  3. Difficulty in breathing
  4. Jaw pain
  5. Development of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders later on in life
  6. Tooth decay
  7. Deformed facial look
  8. Sleep apnea

When to See a Doctor?

A small overlap of 2 to 4 mm is normal. However, to correct severe overlaps, professional treatments are required. 

We recommend you consult a certified healthcare professional if you have these symptoms.

A dentist or an orthodontist may provide you with a proper diagnosis. They can help you treat overbites through either surgical or non-surgical methods.

How is Overbite Diagnosed? 

Usually, a dentist can diagnose an overbite smile based on the appearance of the teeth during your dental check-ups. To check the severity of the condition or its underlying causes, the dentist may go for cephalometric radiographs (ceph X-rays) or dental X-rays. 

We recommend you go to orthodontists who specialize in teeth and jaw alignment for the best diagnosis and treatment.

What are the Ways to Fix an Overbite?

Overbite correction methods may vary depending on what phase of life it developed in a person. The treatment methods for overbites developed during childhood vary from those caught during adulthood. 

Treatment methods for an overbite developed during childhood may involve the following practices-

  • Palatal expanders or growth modification devices are used in adolescents to re-align the jaw.
  • Affected primary teeth are extracted, which is done to ensure the proper development of permanent teeth.
  • Use of dental braces to re-align the dentition gradually. However, you may need to consider a few things before getting braces.
  • Dental retainers can be used to maintain the position of teeth after brace removal.

Treatment methods for an overbite developed during adulthood may involve the following practices-

  • Clear dental braces are used to re-align those teeth that have been affected by overbite. 
  • Teeth extraction is done to ensure proper growth and development of other teeth.
  • Dental operations are performed to re-locate the jaw to the correct position.

Treatment of overbite also depends on the severity of the condition and the cause behind it. In this section, we have explained the various medical approaches to treating overbite. 

Dental Braces

The most commonly used method to treat overbite is the application of dental braces. These devices apply slight pressure to the teeth to gradually re-position them in their correct place.

Dental braces are of different types depending on the material used in their making and the design. They may be made of metal or ceramic and are incorporated with elastics, brackets, and wires.  

Dental braces

After the treatment, braces can be replaced by retainers. Retainers help in maintaining the newly assigned positions of your teeth. 

Treatment with dental braces can last from 1 to 3 years, or in some cases, more. They can only be removed by a dentist when the treatment is over. The results last for as long as you live. Hence, this is the most effective treatment method. 

Suggested Read: 7 Tips for Taking Care of Your Braces

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, also known as Invisalign, are trays made of plastic. They are used to treat overbites ranging from mild to moderate levels. Like dental braces, these aligners apply constant pressure to the teeth and slowly re-locate them. 

You can remove the clear aligners as and when you want. For instance, while brushing, flossing, eating, etc. However, it is advised to wear them for at least 22 hours per day, and they are supposed to stay put even while sleeping. Moreover, before buying, you must know a few tips to choose the best clear teeth aligners.

Usually, you will receive a new set of aligner trays every few weeks after applying. Depending on the severity of the case, clear aligner treatment may last up to 26 trays. 

Tooth Extraction

In young children, tooth extraction may be necessary for the treatment of overbite. Teeth removal helps create enough space and allows the rest of the teeth to erupt.

In severe cases, extraction can be recommended for adults. The procedure should only be undertaken after taking an expert’s opinion.

Functional Devices for Overbites

Sometimes, dental braces are used together with other functional devices to make the overall treatment more effective. These devices work by applying pressure to both the upper and lower jaws. 

A few examples of these functional devices are as follows- 

  • Orthodontic headgear: This device helps treat overjets and overbites by keeping the upper jaw and teeth in place. It allows the lower jaw to attain enough space to grow.
  • Herbst appliance: This brings the lower jaw forward and aids the overbite treatment.

Orthognathic Surgery

Orthognathic surgery, commonly known as jaw surgery, has been used to treat skeletal overbites in adults. If you are an adult suffering from severe overbite, then undergoing jaw surgery is recommended for you. Surgery remains a viable option, as adults have fully developed jaws. 

Orthognathic surgery consists of a physical examination, dental X-rays, and general anesthesia administration. It is followed by the cutting, reshaping, and repositioning of the jawbone under the care of a dental surgeon.

Is Treatment of Overbite an Absolute Necessity?

Vertical overlap of 30% or 2 to 4 mm of the lower teeth is considered normal. It usually doesn’t cause any grave complications. 

However, an overlap of 4 to 6 mm or more is considered a deep overbite. An extremely severe overbite case occurs when the upper jaw completely covers the lower teeth and sometimes even digs into the lower gum. A deep or severe overbite can lead to serious health complications, hence necessitating timely treatment.

What are the Ways to Live With an Overbite?

Normal or mild overbites can be taken care of by following a few simple practices. They are as follows-

  • Maintenance of oral hygiene
  • Avoiding biting of nails
  • Using night guards to prevent teeth grinding while sleeping
  • Regular dental check-ups
  • Discouraging thumb sucking in children

Read Next: What Are Your Choices If You Have Missing Teeth?

Bottom Line

In conclusion, a deep understanding of overbites is crucial to maintaining oral health. Knowing the difference between overbites and other bite problems is critical to getting a proper diagnosis. 

Seeking professional treatment is highly recommended for those who suffer from severe cases of overbites. Whether using dental braces, aligners, surgeries, or tooth extraction, receiving appropriate medical treatment is necessary to treat overbites.  


Overbite – Wikipedia