Malocclusion, Overbite, Overjet, Underbite, Crossbite and Openbite. What Does All This Mean??

Malocclusion, Overbite, Overjet, Underbite, Crossbite and Openbite. What Does All This Mean??

In this blog you will learn what these words mean and some treatment options Dr. Lupini and True Orthodontics, PC has available to correct them.







You may have heard your dentist or orthodontist say these words when doing your exam. Each word has different meanings and we are going to break it down for you in terms you can understand.

Malocclusion – Latin for “bad bite.” This term is used in orthodontics to describe teeth that do not fit together properly.

Overbite – The upper front teeth excessively overlap the bottom front teeth when back teeth are closed. Also call a closed bite or deep bite. This would also be known as a Class II Malocclusion.

What are some treatment options?

Dr. Lupini and True Orthodontics, PC will take different x-rays to determine the best way to treat this. You may have to war an appliance, wear elastics or both. Treatment length is determined case by case because everyone is different. If Dr. Lupini decides that you need to wear elastics with your braces the length of time can also be extended due to noncompliance. If you choose not to wear them your treatment will take longer. It is very important that you do what the doctor recommends so your treatment is not extended. For more information on elastics and different appliances check out our blog “What’s in My Mouth?”.

Here is a great youtube video where Dr. Greg Asatrian D.D.S., M.S., from UCLA School of Dentistry, explains why elastics are very important and what exactly they do.

Overjet – Protruding upper front teeth. Sometimes called buck teeth.

An overbite can be confused as an over jet. These are two different issues. An overjet is when there is a protruding horizontal overlap. This can be a skeletal issue where your upper jaw is more forward than your lower jaw.

What are some treatment options?

Depending on the severity of the overjet treatment can vary. Orthodontic treatment can fix some overjets. Some overjet’s require removing your upper first bicuspids to make space to retract your upper anterior (front) teeth. If the overjet is due to a deficiency in your lower jaw you may require orthognathic surgery. The surgeon will place your mandible in the proper position and the orthodontist will then finish treatment and make sure you have the ideal bite (occlusion).

In this youtube video Dr. Greg Asatrian D.D.S.,M.S. explains the difference.

Underbite – The lower front teeth or jaw sit ahead of the upper front teeth or jaw. Also known as a Class III Malocclusion. This is usually hereditary.

What are some treatment options?

The importance of early detection is extremely important in this case. Early treatment  is ideal and can make a big difference in future treatment. Sometimes the doctor will only need to use a palatal expander. This is an appliance that is worn daily and slowly expands the roof of the mouth.

Some cases may require orthognathic surgery to correct this problem. If surgery is required orthodontist and the oral surgeon will work closely together to correct the problem. Here is a great video explaining this type of surgery from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Crossbite – Upper back teeth are in crossbite if they erupt and contact inside of the lower back teeth. Lower front teeth are in crossbite if they erupt in front of the upper front teeth. A crossbite can be a single tooth or groups of teeth.

What are some treatment options?

Just like an underbite, crossbite can be fixed sometimes using a palatal expander along with braces or aligners. Detecting this early is ideal.

Openbite – A malocclusion in which teeth do not make contact with each other. With an anterior openbite, the front teeth do not touch when the front teeth are closed together. With a posterior openbite, the back teeth do not touch when the front teeth are closed together. Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, temporal mandibular joint disorders or TMJ/TMD and skeletal problems are all reasons why you may have an openbite.

What are the treatment options?

There are many different options for treating this. Behavior modifications as well as orthodontic treatment with braces or aligners early in childhood may be all that is necessary. However in severe cases orthognathic surgery may be required along with orthodontic care.

Early detection is the key with any orthodontic care.

Parents should look for these problems.

Early or late loss of baby teeth

Difficulty chewing or biting


Jaws that shift or make sounds

Speech difficulties

Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth

Facial imbalance

Bruxism, teeth grinding or teeth clenching

Thumb or finger sucking habits

If you notice any of these issues with your child, please make an appointment with Dr. Lupini. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be examined by an orthodontist at the age of 7, or as early as age 3 for certain problems. Dr. Lupini offers free exams. If Dr. Lupini determines that your child is not ready for early treatment, he will recommend follow-up visits to evaluate growth and development, then determine the appropriate time to begin treatment. Dr. Lupini prefers to limit first-stage treatment time to 12-18 months to promote patient cooperation. For these patients, he may consider a second phase of treatment after the majority of permanent teeth have erupted. Other children can be efficiently treated with comprehensive single-phase treatment. Dr. Lupini typically initiates this treatment when your child is between 10 and 13 years of age.

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