Occlusion refers to the way your upper and lower teeth fit together when at rest. When your upper and lower teeth do not fit properly, the condition is known as malocclusion. Because the teeth do not rest together ideally, undue stress and strain is placed on the jaw muscles, which can lead to TMJ dysfunction. The two most common forms of malocclusion, overbite and underbite, are typically corrected through the use of braces. To better understand the causes of malocclusion, Lake Orion dentist Dr. Brad Greenfield outlines the circumstances of an overbite and an underbite.
- In a typical human jaw, the upper teeth extend past the lower teeth by about 3-5 mm. When the extension exceeds 5 mm, the bite is abnormal and labeled as an overbite.
- An overbite can be genetic (inherited from the parents). However, because the jawbone is still soft at young ages, thumb sucking and excessive pacifier use can exacerbate the problem.
- Like most malocclusion, an overbite can usually be corrected with the use of braces.
- The extent of an overbite can be so minor as to be unnoticeable, or so severe as to visibly alter the appearance and structure of your face.
- Overbites constitute about 70% of child dental disorders, making it the most common form of malocclusion.
- An underbite, as the name suggests, is the exact opposite of an overbite. An underbite occurs when the lower teeth extend past the upper teeth. Since your upper teeth naturally sit in front of your lower teeth, an underbite is more noticeable than most overbites.
- An underbite is also genetically inherited from parents but can be made worse by bad habits at an early age (i.e., tongue thrusting or open-mouthed breathing).
- Patients with an underbite are at a higher risk for developing TMJ dysfunction, as well as regular headaches and, in some cases, speech impediment.
A lesser known form of malocclusion is the crossbite, which affects the direction of the teeth. A crossbite refers to one or more teeth that are angled toward the cheek or tongue as compared to the opposing tooth or teeth. To learn more about treating malocclusion, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Greenfield at Lake Orion Family Dentistry in Lake Orion, Michigan, at (248) 693-6213. We welcome patients from Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester Hills, Clarkston, and the surrounding communities.