What Causes an Underbite or Overbite?

No two people are alike, and everyone’s teeth differ in shape, size, and alignment. The way the teeth come together is called occlusion. When one or more of the upper teeth protrude too far forward or not enough, it is called an overbite or underbite- also known as malocclusion.

But what causes someone to have malocclusion? The answer may surprise you.

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An overbite is when someone’s teeth protrude too far forward, causing the top teeth to overlap the bottom. The cause of this occlusion is  often hereditary. If your parents have or had an overbite, there’s a good chance you will have one, too.

Overbites can also be caused by thumb-sucking in childhood and lip-pursing in later life. Thumb-sucking pulls the upper jaw forward while lip-pursing pushes it back, both of which result in protruding top teeth when these habits are stopped.


An underbite is when a person’s lower jaw is larger than their upper jaw. This results in the lower teeth projecting past the upper teeth and is also caused by genetics – with underbites being ten times more common in boys. If your parents have an underbite, you are far more likely to develop one yourself.

Underbites can also be caused by thumb-sucking in childhood as well as long-term use of pacifiers. 

Signs and Symptoms

People with malocclusion might experience signs or symptoms such as:

  • Biting tongue
  • Biting inner cheeks
  • Mouth Breathing

Misaligned bites can also cause lisps or speech issues. If you have any of these symptoms and suspect you might have an under-or overbite, visit your dentist right away. 

Treating Malocclusion

Treating a misaligned bite is essential because it could lead to further complications down the road, such as jaw pain and premature arthritis if left unattended. Depending on the patient, treatments can include orthodontic procedures, bite correction, or non-surgical facelifts. TMJ treatment and myofunctional therapy may enhance the cosmetic treatment of overbite and underbite as well. 

Contact Us

Contact us at the Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry to start the journey towards dental happiness. Here at  the Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry we are happy to help patients who suffer from under and overbites with our non-surgical jaw alignment treatments and various cosmetic dentistry options. Dr. Konig and his expert office staff are waiting to make your dental dreams a reality. Fill out our contact form or call us at (713) 668-2289.  

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