Dental malocclusion, or misaligned upper or lower teeth, is one of the most common dental issues. In fact, the World Health Organization considers it in the top three dental problems facing adults and children. If untreated, it can lead to further health problems down the line. Hoskinson Orthodontics has put together a complete guide on the causes and treatments of open, over, and underbites. Read on to learn more!

Are you looking for a top-rated orthodontist in the Scotia, NY, area? If you’re dealing with misaligned teeth, there’s no time to wait. Contact us at Hoskinson Orthodontics to set up an appointment!

A Deeper Dive into Malocclusion

There are three classes of malocclusion:

Class 1: Class 1 is the most common type of misalignment and is usually not severe. This typically means that your upper and lower teeth overlap properly, but you have crowding or abnormal spacing in your teeth.
Class 2: Class 2 refers to teeth with a severe overbite. When this occurs, your upper teeth greatly overlap your lower teeth.
Class 3: Class 3 applies to teeth with a severe underbite. Your lower teeth overlap your upper teeth, and your jaw may protrude outward.

Open Bites

illustration of open bite

An open bite is a type of misalignment in which the top teeth and bottom teeth do not meet. This may mean that your overlap is normal, but you have large gaps or spaces between teeth.

What Causes Open Bites?

Open bites are primarily caused by external factors and behaviors. Thumb or pacifier-sucking, as well as speech impediments that cause tongue thrusting, are the biggest causes. Additionally, issues like TMJ or abnormal growth of the jaw can play a role.


illustration of an overbite

Overbites are the type of malocclusion in which your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth more than normal.

What Causes Overbites?

Overbites are often genetic, as the general shape and development of the jaw can be passed down. While many people are born with an overbite, it can also be caused by outside factors. Thumb or pacifier-sucking, tongue thrusting, and missing teeth can also cause this.


illustration of underbite

Lastly, an underbite is when your lower teeth overlap your upper teeth and your jaw protrudes outward.

What Causes Underbites?

Like overbites, underbites can be caused by genetics. They can also result from an injury or traumatic event that alters the jaw. Like the other classes of malocclusion, underbites can develop from bad habits like thumb or pacifier-sucking and bottle feeding.

Why Should You Treat Dental Misalignment?

Because misalignment is an aesthetic issue, many people are content with leaving their teeth the way they are. What they don’t realize is that the impact of malocclusion goes beyond just appearance. If left untreated, complications can arise. Some include:

  • Speech issues: gaps or improper spacing in the teeth can lead to speech impediments like a lisp or whistling.
  • Difficulty chewing or eating: an improper bite can keep you from chewing your food correctly, making eating difficult.
  • Damaged or fractured teeth: If your teeth overlap improperly, the friction on your teeth can lead to damage and even fractures
  • Breathing issues: If your misalignment affects your jaw/face shape, it can cause difficulty breathing. It can even build up to sleep apnea.
  • Pain and discomfort: the wear and tear of teeth that aren’t resting in a good position can lead to overall discomfort and pain in the mouth if it isn’t treated.
  • Aesthetics: of course, the appearance of your smile is a major concern. Misalignment can contribute to lowered self-confidence. In severe cases, it can also cause changes to the shape of your face.

How Is It Treated?

Depending on the severity of your misalignment, the treatment options may differ. Some of the common dental treatments for misalignment are:

  • Braces
  • Retainers
  • Tooth extraction
  • Behavior modification (if the bite is related to oral habits like thumb-sucking)
  • Jaw surgery

At Hoskinson Orthodontics, we offer a wide range of orthodontic services for children, teenagers, and adults. We will work with you to determine which treatment option is right for you.

Visit Hoskinson Orthodontics

Having an open, over, or underbite is not a life sentence for your teeth. There are many treatment options available to help straighten your smile and alleviate any symptoms. If you live in or around the Scotia, NY, area and are ready to solve your misaligned teeth for good, you’ve come to the right place! Contact us today at Hoskinson Orthodontics!