The Ideal Bite

pg_barrett-and-gg-with-pt-2In dentistry, occlusion refers to how your teeth come together. It is more than just your bite, it includes the ways teeth come together when you are chewing, swallowing, and sleeping. A malocclusion refers to situations in which the upper and lower teeth, or jaw, are misaligned and come together in ways that can damage or destroy teeth.

Through orthodontic treatment, a patient can achieve the “ideal bite” or the optimal alignment between the top teeth and the bottom teeth.  The alignment or relationship between the top and bottom jaw becomes an essential part of your oral health. If teeth don’t meet correctly during chewing they can chip or wear causing unnecessary dental complications. There are several different types of bites that often need orthodontic treatment including:

  • Crossbite
  • Open bite
  • Overbite
  • Underbite


A crossbite is characterized by one or more of the upper teeth being insdie the lower teeth. A crossbite can occur in the front, the sides of the mouth, or both. Early correction of crossbites is highly recommended. Crossbites should be corrected as they may cause:

  • Wear or fracture of permanent teeth
  • Gum disease including bone loss
  • Asymmetrical development of the jaws
  • Dysfunctional chewing patterns
  • Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ/TMD)

Open Bite

An open bite is characterized by an inadequate vertical overlap of the front teeth. It is caused by oral habits such as tongue thrust, pacifier use beyond age 3, thumb/digit sucking, or jaws that don’t grow evenly. Timing of treatment is critical to the overall success of the therapy. An open bite should be corrected because it can

  • Cause premature wear of the back teeth
  • Cause dysfunctional chewing patterns
  • Be related to jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ/TMD)

Breaking oral habits such as thumb sucking or pacifier will expedite the correction of an open bite.


An overbite is a common orthodontic condition where the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth excessively.  An overbite is a malocclusion that can cause:

  • Improper functioning of teeth
  • Unnatural appearance of the front teeth
  • Excessive wearing of the lower front teeth
  • Possible damage to upper gums and palate


An underbite, is a malocclusion associated with the protrusion of the lower jaw thus causing the lower teeth to overlap the upper teeth. The underbite is perhaps the least common malocclusion and is usually hereditary. However, they still need to be treated to maintain optimum oral health.  Underbites can cause:

  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking
  • Excessive wear on tooth enamel
  • Inability to show upper teeth when smiling
  • Disproportional facial growth and symmetry

The treatment for an underbite is best determined by your dentist or an orthodontist.

At Gardner Orthodontics we specialize in your bite.  Our top priority is helping patients achieve the ideal bite that will provide optimum oral health for the future.  If you or your child could benefit from orthodontic treatment, please contact Gardner Orthodontics at (804) 282-0505.

Gardner & La Rochelle Orthodontics in Richmond, VA