What Does “Deep Bite” Mean and How is it Corrected?

You may have heard your orthodontist mention a deep bite. What exactly does this mean and how can it be fixed?

The first visit to an orthodontist can often begin because a patient has crooked or crowded teeth. During their exam, they may hear their dentist mention what is called a deep bite. A deep bite is a malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth in which the top front teeth overlap over the bottom teeth. It may also be called an overbite or a closed bite.

Deep bites are often caused by a lower jaw that is shorter than the top jaw, causing a serious overlap. When the top and bottom teeth don’t come together correctly, the bottom teeth can shift out of place. Deep bites are also caused by missing back teeth due to decay or trauma. Grinding and clenching your teeth or thumb sucking can also make the situation worse.

Ignoring a deep bite can lead to more significant issues down the road, including:

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues – A deep bite puts the joints and muscles of the face in an unnatural position. They must overclose, and over time the muscles can become sore. The joints themselves are stressed, and it can cause damage to the cartilage and bone.

Tooth Loss – A deep bite tends to lock patients into a bite with little wiggle room. If you happen to clench or grind your teeth, this pressure can wear the bone away, eventually loosening teeth in their sockets.

Gum Recession and Periodontal Disease – When a patient with a deep bite bruxes, or grinds, their teeth, it can cause the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth. This allows food and bacteria to seep in, which can create a chronic gum infection. This, in turn, can cause bone loss resulting in tooth loss.

Sores and Ulcers – Depending on the severity of the overbite, the lower front teeth may scrape the roof of the mouth. Sores and ulcers can occur, making eating uncomfortable, which could lead to infection.

A Healthy Solution

If the deep bite is a result of worn or missing back teeth. The bite can be rebuilt to function correctly by adding crowns, implants, or bridgework.

Traditional braces and clear aligners can also move crooked or out-of-place teeth back into their proper positions to help the bite open. In very severe cases, orthognathic surgery is required to move the bone into place.

The right course of treatment may depend on factors like age, overall health, and condition of your mouth. A consultation with your dentist and orthodontist can help you decide which treatment is best for you.

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