The overbite – known in orthodontics as prognathism – can have a negative impact on your smile, facial profile and oral hygiene. Learn more about the diagnosis, causes and treatment here.
Normally, in a healthy occlusion, the upper incisors and lower teeth overlap slightly, forming the typical scissor bite. When closing the mouth, the upper and lower row of teeth are therefore slightly displaced from each other. If the position of the teeth deviates from this norm, the malocclusion, i.e. the overbite, should be corrected. In this case, both the upper jaw can be too large compared to the lower jaw (maxillary prognathism) or the lower jaw can be too small and be set too far back (mandibular retrognathia). But in almost all people, the upper row of teeth minimally overlaps the lower row. And only if the position of the teeth deviates too much from this norm, it is referred to as overbite in medicine. A distinction is made between the horizontal misalignment (overjet) and the vertical misalignment (overbite).
The overjet describes the horizontal distance between the upper and lower incisors. In a horizontal overbite, the upper jaw is too large compared to the lower jaw and protrudes significantly. Accordingly, the upper incisors protrude too far forward, creating a large gap between them and the lower teeth. Ideally, this distance should be only 1–2 mm. When we talk about “overbite”, most people imagine a positive overjet – a malocclusion where the upper teeth protrude forward. This can have skeletal or dental causes and can be either a jaw or a tooth misalignment. In a negative overjet, the lower teeth protrude and the upper teeth are further back, creating a so-called prognathism.
Contrary to the overjet, the overbite describes the vertical position of the teeth in relation to each other. Normally, the protrusion is 2–3 mm and the upper teeth are in front of the lower teeth. However, if the upper front teeth completely cover the lower teeth, this is referred to as deep bite. If, on the other hand, the upper teeth are covered by the lower teeth, it is called prognathism. Below you will find an overview of the 4 different tooth and jaw misalignments of the overbite.
The terms “prognathism” or “underbite” are used to describe a dental condition in which the lower incisors extend outward farther than the upper front incisors. In other words, a reverse overbite. The medical condition of prognathism often results in a protruding chin.
As a general rule, the upper incisors should only slightly cover the lower ones when biting. In a deep bite, however, the teeth extend too far down and overlap on the lower incisors.
As in the case of the deep bite, the upper incisors cover the lower incisors. In addition, the upper incisors are tilted inwards. The closed and deep bite can both overlap to such an extent that the teeth touch the gums and thus injure them.
In a normal occlusion, the cusps and grooves (pits and fissures) of the lower and upper molars interlock. You can think of it as a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces fit exactly together. In the case of an end-to-end bite, the cusps and grooves of the upper and lower jaws, as well as the edge of the front teeth, hit each other instead of interlocking. The permanent contact of the incisors causes the enamel to wear off and results in small chewing surfaces. This means that the function of cutting can only be performed to a limited extent.
The causes of the above-mentioned malocclusions are mostly genetic. In addition, a common cause is a faulty or asymmetrical development of the jawbone. However, there are also acquired causes and bad habits, such as prolonged use of pacifiers or thumb-sucking or the effects of accidents. Regardless of whether the causes are genetic or acquired, the consequences are the same. The most common consequences of an overbite can be the following:
Whether it is necessary to treat an overbite at all depends on the degree of the malocclusion. From a medical point of view, a shift of 2–4 mm usually does not require any intervention. However, even in these cases some patients opt for a dental treatment for cosmetic and aesthetic reasons. If the overjet and/or overbite is greater than 4 mm, orthodontic treatment should be considered to avoid the above-mentioned problems. In addition, if an overbite goes untreated, it can worsen and also result in health complaints. Chewing problems can, for example, have a negative impact on digestion. There are a variety of treatments available to correct this tooth misalignment. The most common treatment to correct an overbite is with braces. In children, this malocclusion is often corrected before the onset of puberty. However, an overbite may also be treated in adults. But treating a tooth misalignment or an overbite on your own is not an option. To treat a malocclusion, orthodontic treatment must be carried out. In particularly severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reposition the teeth and jaw. This can be the case if the teeth are misaligned by more than 9 mm. In most cases, the overbite can be corrected with (removable) clear Aligners. See the impressive before-and-after results with Aligner treatment for yourself.
If an overbite is treated in childhood, classic braces with brackets are often used. As the jaw and teeth are still growing at this age, the treatment method with fixed braces has proven successful. The pressure of the braces thus ideally adapts to the natural growth of the jaw. However, if you want to straighten your teeth in adulthood and not have visible brackets and wires in your mouth, Aligner treatment is an excellent alternative. The transparent and removable braces exert pressure on the teeth – just like with fixed braces – moving them into the desired position. But with fixed braces, this teeth straightening process can take up to 3 years. With bestsmile Aligner braces, teeth straightening only takes 3–12 months on average.
Learn more about bestsmile Aligner
During treatment, the patient switches to the next Aligner every 2 weeks to bring the teeth into the correct position step by step. On average, clear Aligners should be worn 22 hours per day, are barely visible and can be removed at any time. This gives you complete freedom and you won’t have to make any compromise during treatment. The overbite is only one of the many malocclusions that can be treated with our clear Aligners. Clear braces can also be used to correct a crossbite, an open bite, tooth gaps, crowded or crooked teeth within a short period of time. If you have one of these misalignments and are interested in a bestsmile treatment, our experienced dentists will be happy to advise you individually. With 36 locations throughout Switzerland, you’re sure to find one near you. By the way: your first appointment is free. Get advice from our experienced dentists and soon you’ll have a flawless new smile!