Deep Overbite

Evidence Based
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What is a Deep Bite (Deep Overbite)?

A deep bite is otherwise known as a deep overbite, overbite, or closed bite. It is a malocclusion in which the upper front teeth excessively overlap the lower front teeth, and  occurs when the mouth is closed.

Often, this causes the lower front teeth to bite into the gum tissue or palate behind the upper front teeth.

overbite malocclusion scaled 1

A deep bite can sometimes be an esthetic concern. It may also indicate that there are other issues to address.

What Causes a Deep Overbite?

The most common reason for a deep overbite is a small lower jaw. When the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw, the upper teeth protrude further outward. As a result, the lower teeth grow until they reach the back of the upper teeth or the mouth's roof (palate.)

Teeth crowding and alignment problems are common when the lower front teeth grow up under the top ones. 

In adults, missing back teeth can create or worsen a deep bite. When teeth are missing, the bite and lower face collapse. This can make someone’s face look older. Missing lower teeth creates a condition similar to having a short lower jaw. 

Patients who have significantly strong biting muscles also tend to develop an overbite. This condition is common in people who clench or grind their teeth often.

Deep Overbite Complications

A deep overbite can be an aesthetic problem. Patients may be embarrassed about their teeth and smile. A deep overbite can also cause various dental problems. 

An untreated, deep overbite can lead to the following complications:

  • Excessive wear and damage to the teeth
  • Damage the gum and soft tissue around the teeth 
  • Problems with biting and chewing food
  • Headaches and temporomandibular joint disorder (known as TMJ or TMD)
  • Painful sores or ulcers 
  • Loss of tooth structure
  • Tooth loss 

Temporomandibular joint disorder is an issue with the jaw joint. It can lead to pain, discomfort, and a clicking or locking of the jaw. The condition can also affect a person’s hearing and sleeping.

If a significant structure has been lost due to an overbite, an orthodontist must recreate the space necessary for restoration. Orthodontic treatment for an overbite involves moving the upper and lower teeth apart and ‘opening the bite.’ Shifting the crowded and crooked teeth that often come with deep overbites means that the deep bite must be adjusted to allow room to align the teeth.

A deep overbite can also make it challenging to practice good oral hygiene, such as cleaning your teeth and gums. If this is the case, this can lead to further dental issues. These problems include tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

How to Fix a Deep Overbite

Orthodontic treatment for a deep bite varies depending on the patient’s age, degree of malocclusion, aesthetic goals, and the presence of extra dental concerns. Patients may need additional dental work to replace missing teeth, such as dental implants. Procedures like dental implants support the alignment of the jaw following treatment.

First, to fix a deep bite, either the upper or lower front teeth (or both) are moved into the supporting bone. Secondly, the side and back teeth are elongated through the addition of dental restorations. This process opens the bite.

Deep overbite treatment often involves a multi-disciplinary approach with orthodontics and restorative dentistry. Modern orthodontic treatment can correct an unaligned overbite by intruding your front teeth or erupting your back teeth. Many of today’s options for treating a deep overbite are discreet.

Often, a deep bite is treated either with braces or clear aligners. A trained and knowledgeable orthodontist knows which treatment options to use for overbite correction.

If not treated suitably at an early age, a deep overbite worsens over time. Teeth wear down with clenching and grinding, making the deep overbite more pronounced and noticeable. By choosing an orthodontic treatment plan early on, patients can save themselves from needing more complex oral or facial surgery later in life.

Can Invisalign fix a deep overbite?

Yes, Invisalign clear aligners can fix a deep overbite. If you’re interested in treating your deep overbite with Invisalign clear aligners, speak with your dentist or an Invisalign doctor.

Can braces fix a deep overbite?

Traditional braces are one of the most common treatments for a deep overbite. Fixed braces made of metal or tooth-colored ceramic brackets and thin wires slowly move the teeth into a better position over time.

The process involves fixing metal brackets to the teeth. These brackets are connected with wire, and work together to straighten your teeth. 
Once the teeth are straightened, the fixing of the overbite starts. Springs, rubber bands, and coils are fixed to the braces to help move the jawline with extra force.

How long does it take to correct a deep overbite?

A deep bite is one of the most extended orthodontic conditions to fix with braces and aligners. In most cases, a deep overbite isn’t the only issue at hand. The patient is also likely to have overcrowded or crooked teeth, which means there are various dental problems to address.

While each case is different, patients with a severe overbite may need to wear braces for up to two years. Once the braces are no longer required, a retainer is worn to keep the teeth in place.

When is jaw surgery necessary?

If there is a skeletal problem, some extreme and severe cases of a deep overbite may require jaw surgery. Surgery can reposition the jaw when braces aren’t enough to correct it.

Deep overbite correction surgery is usually only used for adults. Adults’ jaws are no longer developing or flexible, so surgery is the only option at this stage.

Resources

Daokar, Suchita & Agrawal, Gauri. (2016). Deep Bite Its Etiology, Diagnosis and Management: A Review. Journal of Orthodontics & Endodontics, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312243588_Deep_Bite_Its_Etiology_Diagnosis_and_Management_A_Review

Overbite, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/treatable-cases/overbite

Van't Spijker A, Kreulen CM, Bronkhorst EM, Creugers NH. Occlusal wear and occlusal condition in a convenience sample of young adults. J Dent. 2015;43(1):72-77, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25446239/

Riolo ML, Brandt D, TenHave TR. Associations between occlusal characteristics and signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction in children and young adults. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 1987;92(6):467-477, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3500634

Beddis, H., Durey, K., Alhilou, A. et al. The restorative management of the deep overbite. Br Dent J 217, 509–515 (2014), https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2014.953#citeas

Updated on: September 9, 2020
Author
Ellie Swain
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Medically Reviewed: September 9, 2020
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Lara Coseo
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