Common Bite Problems In Children & Adults

Your bite, or how your upper and lower teeth come together, is a crucial part of your oral health. A bad bite, or a malocclusion, happens when teeth meet improperly or not at all. Individual bite problems are unique to each person, but there are six common types of bite issues common in children and adults. If you have a bite problem,  Dr. Mullally, our Gainesville orthodontist, can help! Contact Studio32 Orthodontics today to find out more about orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign® and to schedule an orthodontic consultation.



Crowding occurs when there is insufficient space for the teeth in the upper and/or lower jaws. This can result from large-size teeth or inadequate space in the jaw for the teeth or both. Crowding may result in teeth overlapping one another, rotating either inwards or outwards, or appearing crooked and staggered. If crowding is not corrected to a normal bite with braces for adults or braces for kids, teeth can be challenging to clean correctly and lead to the development of cavities and gum disease, among other oral health problems.


An overbite or deep bite is among the most common bite problems in children and adults alike. An overbite is typically caused by the shape and size of the individual’s jaw or teeth. This happens when the upper jaw and front teeth severely overlap the lower front teeth. An overbite can cause the upper front teeth to bite down into the lower gums or cause the lower teeth to bite up into the roof of the mouth. Overbites may cause jaw pain, tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, worn enamel, sleep apnea, headaches, difficulty speaking, and oral discomfort.


Underbites occur when the bottom front teeth overlap the top front teeth. This usually occurs when the lower jaw is positioned too far forward. Genetic factors may cause it, but childhood behaviors, including overusing a pacifier, excessive thumb sucking, excessive bottle feeding, and tongue thrusting, may also contribute to an underbite. Underbites can cause the face to take a “bulldog appearance” from the bottom jaw protruding in front of the upper jaw. It can lead to TMJ issues, speech problems, sleep apnea, and chronic mouth breathing problems.


A crossbite occurs when one or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth, resulting in a failure of teeth to line up properly. This can happen on one or both sides of the jaw, affecting the front or back teeth. Crossbites can occur if the lower jaw bone is wider than the upper jaw bone, from delayed or abnormal tooth eruptions, thumb sucking, and other childhood habits. A crossbite can lead to jaw pain or TMJ issues from uneven pressure placed on jaw muscles, as well as accelerated enamel wear, increased tooth decay, and gum disease.

Open Bite

An open bite is characterized by upper front teeth that do not overlap lower front teeth, causing a gap between the upper and lower teeth when biting down. Open bites have four primary causes, including excessive thumb-sucking/pacifier overuse, tongue thrusting, jaw issues, and skeletal/developmental issues. An open bite can lead to speech difficulties (a lisp), accelerated wear on the back teeth compared with the front teeth, and difficulties with chewing and eating food. This issue can also be highly noticeable and cause emotional distress as a result.


Spacing problems occur when large, empty gaps separate the front teeth. This usually forms when a person’s teeth are too small for their jaw bone, causing the teeth to gap from being spaced too far apart. This issue is common in children and may be caused by excessive thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Some individuals may even be born missing certain teeth, which can likewise cause gaps. Spacing can lead to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease because it is easier for food to get stuck between teeth with large gaps.