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The Difference Between an Overbite and Underbite

Posted on 3/27/2017 by Manhattan Maxillofacial Surgery Group
A man covering his mouth, because he's embarrassed of his underbite.
The way that your teeth sit your mouth is more important than providing you with a great smile. In fact, the position of your teeth can affect your health. An improper bite can affect your speech and how you eat.

It can cause uneven wear on the teeth that can result in tooth decay and other damage. Malocclusions are often classified as an overbite or an underbite.

What is a Proper Bite?

In order to understand an improper bite, a proper bite must first be established. No one has perfectly straight teeth. Everyone has some degree of malocclusion.

Most people, however, do not need these malocclusions fixed, as they don't interfere with the functions of your mouth. I proper bite involves a slight overlap of the front teeth over the bottom teeth, but the bottom canines should be slightly forward of the top ones.


You are considered to have an overbite, also known as an overjet (or class II bite), when your front teeth protrude noticeably out over your bottom teeth. Having an overbite can lead to such issues as gum irritation, uneven wear on the lower teeth, and TMJ pain. Overbites are often attributed to genetics, but can also be linked to poor oral hygiene habits.


On the other hand, an underbite occurs when your bottom teeth stick out over your top teeth. This type of bite can cause significant TMJ pain as well as uneven and excessive tooth wear.

Underbites are usually caused by an overgrowth of the lower jaw or an undergrowth of the upper jaw (although it can also be a combination of the two). Or, they can be caused by missing teeth.

Treating Malocclusions

Whether you have an overbite or an underbite, the important thing to know is that the malocclusion is treatable. Minor malocclusions can usually be fixed with orthodontic help.

However, if you have a more severe over or underbite, you may require oral surgery to reset the jaw. Contact our office to learn what the best course of action is for you.

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Manhattan Maxillofacial Surgery Group
16 E 52nd Street, Suite 1101
New York, NY 10022

Phone: (212) 245-5801
Fax: (646) 607-2957
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