What’s the Difference Between an Underbite and Overbite?

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Most people have heard of an overbite, but did you know there is something called an underbite and a crossbite? The human anatomy is fascinating, to say the least, and every single person has a unique makeup. This is true when talking about all parts of the body, including the mouth. Underbites, overbites, and crossbites are all common tooth alignment issues that fall under the dental category of malocclusion. This refers to when the teeth simply don’t align 100% correctly. In many cases an underbite or overbite causes no issues and is just a unique characteristic of an individual, but in some cases these alignment issues can cause issues with speaking and breathing and even lead to crooked or protruding teeth.

It is important to keep in mind that your bite and how your teeth are aligned can impact your overall health and wellness. When your teeth are not properly aligned, it can lead to issues chewing, biting, speaking, breathing, and even an individual’s facial growth can be affected. People with a “bad bite” may notice their teeth becoming increasingly crooked, worn, or protruded. When this occurs, it is imperative you talk to your Irving family dentist. While many people with an overbite or underbite don’t need to worry about having a procedure to fix it, some do.

Before we look at what the difference is between an overbite and an underbite, it’s important to understand what proper alignment is. Also called a Class I bite, proper alignment is defined as having a very slight overlap between the top and bottom front teeth. When you bite down, the top teeth should come down over the bottom and the bottom canines should slightly protrude out in front of the top teeth.


An overbite is sometimes referred to as a Class II bite and is used when the upper teeth overlap over the lower teeth. Individuals with an overbite have front teeth that overlap the bottom by 5mm or more. Overbites account for approximately 70 percent of all dental disorders in children, making it the most common form of malocclusion that we treat here at our Irving dental clinic.

Many issues can arise from an overbite, including gum irritation. Individuals with an abnormal overbite may also notice their bottom teeth start to wear more quickly. This usually takes place because of how the teeth site when the mouth is closed. There are numerous causes for an overbite, from genetics to poor oral hygiene.


 An underbite is – you guessed it – a Class III bite. As you can likely determine, it is the opposite of an overbite and occurs when the bottom teeth stick out further than the upper when the jaw is closed. As with an overbite, this can lead to uneven wear of the teeth. People with an underbite also complain of pain in the jaw and joints of the mouth, which is one of the most common reasons for their visit to the dentist.

The majority of underbite cases are genetic, however, children who use a pacifier for a long period of time may also develop an underbite. Other bad habits like thumb sucking and poor chewing may cause the condition to worsen. Children who have certain allergies that cause them to breathe through their mouth may also be at risk of developing an underbite. Beyond the physical symptoms, people who are diagnosed with an underbite complain of headaches and difficulty chewing.

To learn more about the difference between an underbite and overbite or to schedule an appointment with one of our Irving family dentists, please do not hesitate to contact Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas today.