Orthodontic Disorders

Classification of Teeth Overview

For a brief overview of the classification of teeth, please click on the image below. It will launch our educational module in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about the classifications of teeth.

Classification of Teeth Overview
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CROSSBITE

A dental crossbite occurs when one or more upper teeth are trapped behind or inside of the lower teeth.  Crossbites can occur in the front, the back, or the sides of the mouth and involve a single tooth or multiple teeth.  Early correction of crossbites is recommended to prevent problems later on. Crossbites are usually corrected early because if left untreated, they can lead to:

  • Irreversible enamel wear of the teeth
  • Gum recession / gum disease including bone loss
  • Asymmetrical growth of the jaws
  • Dysfunctional chewing patterns
  • A less attractive smile

Treatment Options for Crossbites

If there is a single tooth crossbite, the tooth can be moved with a retainer or braces into the correct position. With multiple teeth in crossbite, the arch needs to be expanded with braces or other appliances such as an expander.

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OPENBITE

Openbite side view illustration

Openbite is an insufficient vertical overlap of the teeth. It can be caused by oral habits such as extended pacifier use, finger or thumb sucking, forward resting tongue posture or when the jaws don’t grow evenly. Timing of treatment is critical to the overall success of the orthodontic therapy.

Treatment Options for Openbites

Openbites are ideally corrected while the patient is still growing using orthopedic appliances that modify growth of the jaws such as headgear and braces. Habit elimination is critical to allow for normal jaw development and tooth eruption during growth to prevent severe openbite later on.  Severe openbite cases or patients seeking treatment after growth is complete may require jaw surgery to reposition the jaws.

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OVERBITE

Overbite side view illustration

Overbite, commonly called a deep overbite or deepbite, occurs when the upper front teeth excessively overlap and protrude over the lower front teeth in a vertical plane. Often times you cannot see the lower incisors when the overbite is severe. A deepbite prevents normal function of the front teeth and can lead to irreversible enamel wear and palatal gum tissue stripping if left untreated. Thus, overbite should be corrected because it results in:

  • Improper functioning of your front teeth
  • Gum recession resulting from the lower front teeth biting into the gum tissue of the upper palate
  • Unusual enamel wear of the lower front teeth and palatal surface of the upper front teeth
  • Jaw or joint problems
  • A less attractive smile

Treatment Options for Overbites

Overbites can be corrected using appliances such as a bite plate, headgear and/or braces by moving the upper teeth up or the lower teeth down or by bringing the back teeth together, which will “open” the bite so the teeth are properly aligned and the deep bite is eliminated.

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overjet

Overjet side view illustration

Overjet results from the upper front teeth sticking out too far ahead of the lower front teeth in a front-to-back or sagittal plane. It is commonly referred to as protrusion or excessive flare of the upper front teeth (buck teeth). Excessive overjet can be caused by a skeletal imbalance of the upper and lower jaw; improper alignment of the molars (Class II Relationship), flared upper incisors, missing lower teeth or a combination of the above. In addition, oral habits such as thumb sucking, finger sucking or a resting forward tongue habit can exacerbate the condition.  Overjet should be corrected because it can:

  • Prevent proper functioning of the front teeth
  • Lead to premature wear
  • Increase the risk of trauma to the front teeth
  • Lip trapping resulting in a less ideal profile appearance
  • Make your smile less attractive

Treatment Options for Overjet

Overjet can be corrected through growth modification using appliances such as headgear and Herbst, tooth movement using forsus or elastics and when excessive, tooth extractions and/or jaw surgery.

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UNDERBITE

Underbite side view illustration

An underbite results when the upper front teeth are trapped behind the lower front teeth. Underbites are a form of anterior crossbite and can be caused by skeletal discrepancies (upper jaw too far back or lower jaw too far forward or a combination), tooth discrepancies (missing upper teeth, flared or gapped lower teeth) or a combination of the two. Early correction of underbite is recommended to help reduce the need for tooth extractions or jaw surgery later on.  An underbite should be corrected because if left untreated it can:

  • Prevent proper functioning of the front teeth or molars leading to premature wear of teeth
  • Cause chewing or eating problems
  • Cause jaw or joint problems
  • Make your smile less attractive

Treatment Options for Underbites

Underbite can be corrected through growth modification of the jaws, extraction of teeth and in some cases, surgical correction of the jaws.

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