About Deep Overbites

Deep overbites, enamel wear

What are deep overbites?

Deep overbite illustrationIn orthodontic terms, “overbite” means the vertical overlap of the front teeth. This gets confusing because most folks refer to overbite as the degree to which the upper front teeth extend in front of the lower front teeth. Orthodontists refer to that as “overjet”. Notice how the upper tooth gets thicker the higher up you go? This becomes a problem when the more delicate biting edge of the lower tooth strikes the thicker part of the upper tooth. Over time this results in wear of the lower front teeth, and it’s common for folks to wear through the tough enamel, exposing the softer inner structure of the tooth known as dentin. Once dentin is exposed, the rate of tooth wear can increase. The bottom line is that deep overbites raise the risk of dental wear.


Deep overbites resulting in attrition

Dental wear through the enamel, with dentin exposed.


How are deep overbites corrected?

Deep overbites can be corrected with either braces, removable appliances, or both. With braces, the upper and lower teeth are moved away from each other. People often ask if the teeth are buried in the gums, and the good news is that the gums and underlying bone move with the teeth. In he end the teeth don’t lose their length. The most typical removable appliance is known as a biteplate, pictured below:

Anterior biteplate to correct deep overbites

Olympic Orthodontics Lab biteplate.

The way biteplates work is that when worn, the patient’s lower front teeth bite into the front plastic part of the biteplate, and that keeps the patient from biting down too deeply. The back teeth, or molars, are no longer in contact. Teeth tend to erupt until they meet something, so when a biteplate is worn and the molars aren’t touching they tend to erupt or grow toward each other. Eventually the molars will meet sooner, and the patient doesn’t close as far, so the front teeth don’t overlap as much. The orthodontist will determine which method of treatment will work best for each individual patient, based upon proper diagnosis of the underlying cause.

How does it look once a deep overbite is treated?

Deep overbites pre-treatment

Before treatment.






Deep overbites corrected.

After treatment.