When we think of braces, we usually think it is to fix teeth that aren’t straight. This is true. However, orthodontists’ braces and other services can actually help more problems than unstraight teeth. When you visit an orthodontist, they aren’t only concerned with little gaps or crooked teeth. They also focus on treating bite problems. If you suffer from bite problems, you may wonder what causes overbites, underbites, and other bite problems.

Below we’ll discuss what different bite problems are, such as overbites and underbites. We’ll also talk about what happens if you don’t get them fixed and what your treatment options are.

Read on!

What Is an Overbite?

An overbite, which has the nickname of “buck teeth,” is the misalignment of the teeth. This is when the upper front teeth jut out over the lower teeth. Many people have upper teeth that go over their bottom teeth, but an overbite is when this is very prominent.

Depending on the overbite’s severity, you may not need to have it treated at all. Most people who choose to treat an overbite do so for cosmetic reasons.

Some people will need to treat their overbite to avoid future complications with their teeth. These can include damaging other teeth, damage to the gums, or damage to the tongue from biting it.

What Causes Overbites?

Many habits can cause overbites, but mainly overbites are hereditary. We pass our jaw shape down through generations, like other physical features we have. Other overbite causes can start in childhood.


Thumb-sucking can have a big impact on the bite we have. What happens if thumb-sucking continues past the age of three or four, or when adult teeth are growing in?

The thumb’s pressure on the teeth can cause the permanent teeth to come in at an angle. This causes them to overlap the bottom teeth at an abnormal angle.

Spacing or Crowding

Having spaced out teeth or having overcrowded teeth can lead to an overbite. Having missing teeth or teeth with gaps can affect your front teeth’ placement, which could position them out and over your bottom teeth.

If you have overcrowded teeth, this can also cause misalignment, resulting in an overbite.

Complications From Overbites

If you neglect to treat your overbite, this can cause issues that will affect a range of different parts of your life. These range from speech impediments to pain in your jaw. Since an overbite is the misplacement of your jaw, it can cause a lot of discomfort.

Other issues that can occur if you don’t treat your overbite are:

  • breathing issues
  • damage to other teeth and gums
  • pain while chewing/biting
  • alterations in your facial appearance

To make sure that you can prevent these problems, visit an orthodontist who can help you treat an overbite.

Treatment and Correction of Overbites

Medical treatment usually isn’t necessary unless your overbite is causing health issues and discomfort (or if you are unhappy with your appearance). There is no one way to correct an overbite since everyone has different jaw types and teeth.

Braces would be the go-to for the correction of an overbite traditionally. However, orthodontists are also now able to treat overbites with Invisalign as well. Both treatments will move your teeth and manipulate your back molars to straighten your entire smile.

Another treatment option is a palate expansion. This is to treat children or adolescents with an upper jaw that will not accommodate their adult teeth. With this tool, the jaw expands slowly so that the teeth can spread out a little, making the front teeth move back.

What Is an Underbite?

An underbite, which is clinically called prognathism, is when the bottom teeth overlap the upper teeth. An underbite makes most people very self-conscious and is a bite problem that is fixed most often. Like an overbite, it can range in severity.

A mild underbite can happen when your bottom teeth and top teeth almost meet. A severe case of an underbite is when the gap between the upper and lower teeth is larger, making it look like the person is jutting out their chin.

What Causes Underbites?

Like overbites, an underbite is hereditary and is usually present at birth. Causes of underbites are usually more of a problem with the jawbone than the teeth. Other than genetics, there are a few other ways that a person can end up with an underbite.

Pushing on Teeth

If you grew up pushing your tongue to the back of your bottom teeth, this could have caused you to have an underbite. Pushing on your teeth with your tongue can push your teeth and jaw forward, as your teeth become used to your tongue pressing there.


Severe injuries to the face can result in broken jawbones or other damage to the jaw. This may end up causing an underbite.

Usually, you can have your jaw repaired. However, there are times where the jaw won’t fit back properly, which can cause misalignment and underbite.

Complications From Underbites

Many people end up getting their underbite corrected, as it’s often more than a cosmetic issue. Severe cases can lead to many health problems that can affect a person’s quality of life, including:

  • Difficulty biting and chewing
  • Challenges with speaking
  • Pain in the mouth and face because of the misalignment of the jaw

For these reasons, if you have an underbite and are concerned about it, you should visit the orthodontist to see what they can do.

Treatment and Correction

Mild cases of an underbite can usually be fixed with braces or an upper jaw expander. When it comes to severe underbites, though, there are different methods of treatment.

One of the most common treatments for an underbite is a chin cap that will be fitted for you by your orthodontist. This is a headpiece that you wear during the night while you sleep. These will limit the growth of your bottom jaw and help to realign your upper jaw.

How to Correct Bite Problems: See Your Orthodontist

Hopefully, we have answered your question of what causes overbites and underbites. If you suffer from an overbite, underbite, or any other type of bite problems, then you need to visit your orthodontist.

Whether you want to fix your bite problem for cosmetic or health reasons, we want to help you get the smile you deserve!

We have the tools to be able to work with you on your bite problems and misalignments. Click here for our patient forms that you can fill out before you come to your first appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!