A deep bite is one of many types of bite problems that orthodontists treat. This is the name for a severe form of one of the most common malocclusions (misalignment of the teeth when the jaws are closed): an overbite. You’ve probably heard of overbites, but this severe form is less well known. So, here’s some introductory information about deep bites to help you better understand this condition in case you suspect that you or your child has it, or if you’ve recently gotten the diagnosis.
What Is a Deep Bite?
When we talk about deep bites, we’re referring to when the top front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth to a great degree when the mouth is closed. Most people’s top teeth overlap the bottom ones very slightly, with an overlap of up to a few millimeters. But when you see an overlap where the top teeth almost completely or completely cover the bottom teeth, it’s considered a deep bite.
Is a Deep Bite Concerning?
A deep bite is certainly a cosmetic concern for most people who have one, but it’s also a health concern. It can make it difficult to properly brush your teeth, which of course increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. The teeth and gums are also prone to getting scraped, worn, and damaged, exacerbating concerns about their condition. And if the person is biting into the roof of their mouth, sores and ulcers may develop. Also, a deep bite may interfere with the ability to chew and/or speak properly. Deep bites also frequently cause discomfort or pain in the mouth, jaw, and temporomandibular joint, and even headaches and pain in the neck and shoulders.
What Causes a Deep Bite?
Typically, genetics, and the way they affect the size and shape of the jaw and mouth, cause a deep bite. But it can also be caused by certain repetitive behaviors in early childhood, such as prolonged use of a pacifier or thumb-sucking. Chronic jaw clenching or grinding of the teeth may also lead to the development of a deep bite. A jaw injury is another possible cause.
How Is a Deep Bite Treated?
Getting treatment as early as possible is recommended to prevent complications and potential psychological effects. Various factors come into play when determining the best course of treatment for each individual patient. Braces, clear aligners, or other dental devices are a possible solution. Specific teeth may be removed to help realign the bite. Crowns, implants, or bonding can help alter the bite too for some people. In cetrain cases, surgery is needed to correct structural problems with the jaw bones.
Treatments may be needed for symptoms or complications, as well. For example, splint therapy may be used to reposition the lower jaw and reduce pressure on the area’s nerves and blood vessels.