TLC Dental

Open Bite, Deep Bite, and Crossbite: How Do They Differ?

A dental bite refers to how your upper and lower teeth fit together when the mouth is closed. The definition of a healthy bite is when:

  • Your upper teeth fit a little bit over your lower teeth
  • The points of your molars fit the grooves of the opposite molar

In this article, I will be focusing on the 3 most common bite problems and how they differ from one another among other things to take note of.

Read more to find out.

Understanding malocclusion

Malocclusion is a medical term that orthodontists use to describe teeth that are not aligned properly. The misalignment of teeth can be due to several factors that include:

  • Childhood habits such as sucking on the thumb or pacifier for an extended amount of time
  • Tongue thrusting, when the tongue pushes too far forward in the mouth
  • Hereditary genes
  • The size difference between the upper and lower jaw
  • The size difference of the teeth and the jaw
  • Missing or extra teeth

Diagnosing your dental bite

At the initial consultation, the orthodontist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth and facial structure, to diagnose a patient based on their dental relationship as well as their jaw relationship. Dental relationship refers to how the upper and lower teeth are positioned against each other, while skeletal relationship refers to the upper and lower jaw position in relation to each other as well as the skull base. Although dental relationship is easily identified through clinical examination, jaw relationship would often require x-rays to confirm. X-rays are taken in order to view the structure of your teeth, roots and jawbone. These also allow the orthodontist to examine and identify any other underlying dental issues, such as impacted teeth, dental decay or infection.  A model of your teeth would be made from the impression/ intraoral scan.

The orthodontist will also look for other bite problems and alignment issues before deciding on the appropriate treatment plan.


What are the 3 most common bite problems?

Listed below are 3 common dental bite problems that commonly bring patients to visit an orthodontist.

Open bite

An open bite is when the front upper and lower teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed. Thumb-sucking

  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Skeletal problems

Deep bite

A deep bite is when the upper front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth excessively when the bite is closed.

The cause of deep bite can be inherited, due to problems in tooth shape and size, jaw growth pattern and size. For example, deep bite is common in patients with lower jaw being smaller than the upper. When the lower jaw is smaller, the upper teeth are positioned more forward than it should be. This allows the bottom teeth to grow until it hits the roof of the mouth.

Sometimes this problem can also occur in patients with normal jaw relationship. This is often caused by an imbalance in the muscle forces, habits, changes in tooth position and lateral tongue thrust habits.


When a few of your upper teeth sit behind your lower teeth, you have a crossbite.

While crossbites involving individual teeth is most likely due to crowding, cross bites involving multiple teeth are often hereditary, due to jaw size discrepancies. However, they may also be due to thumb-sucking or delayed/abnormal tooth growth.

Potential problems you might face with these dental bites

Listed are some problems that you will face for each specific type of bite:

Open bite

Deep bite


  • Develop a lisp
  • Prevents you from chewing food properly 
  • The back teeth can wear down and lead to discomfort and dental problems
  • Over-erupted lower front teeth will tend to wear down more quickly
  • Painful sores or ulcers may develop if the teeth are biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Grinding of teeth
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension 
  • Irregular enamel wear

How can I fix my dental bite problem?

Fixing your dental bite not only improves your physical appearance but it improves your oral health as well. After treatment, your teeth will be much easier to clean, therefore reducing the risks of gum disease and tooth decay.

Treatments for dental bites depend on the type and severity of the bite. With that said, here are some ways your orthodontist may suggest to treat your bite:

  • Braces
  • Surgery
  • Growth modification appliances/Palate expander/maxillary expander
  • Behaviour modification

Take away

In conclusion, the three most common bite problems that regularly bring patients to seek treatment are open bites, deep bites and cross bites. It is important for you to have a healthy bite as it can prevent certain dental problems.

If you have any one of these dental bites and it is affecting you in your daily life, give us a call! Dr Enrica our Orthodontic Specialist will be happy to help.