Misaligned Bite

kidDoes your child have a misaligned bite? The technical name for a misaligned bite or “bad bite” is malocclusion.  Malocclusion can be caused by genetics, mouth breathing, or bad oral habits such as thumb sucking. Most people, children and adults, have some level of malocclusion, but nothing that usually warrants treatment. Research indicates that 90 percent of school-aged children present with some sort of malocclusion, but only 10 to 15 percent of those children require treatment. If your child’s bite appears misaligned, if they have trouble chewing or speaking, or are embarrassed to smile, your Livonia, MI dentist, Dr. James Stewart can evaluate their bite and recommend appropriate treatment that may help prevent future problems.

What Is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion, misaligned bite, or “bad bite” can affect your child’s overall health including their speech and their breathing.  Malocclusion refers to any irregular contact between teeth in the upper jaw and teeth in the lower jaw. In most of the 10 to 15 percent of patients for whom treatment is sought, the reasons are cosmetic. In extreme cases, a bad bite may affect your child’s looks.


There are several ways a bite can be misaligned. There is the overbite, the underbite, the crossbite, the deep bite, and the narrow arch, which basically causes tooth crowding. When the dental arch is too narrow, or the length and width of the arch are too small, there is no room for teeth to erupt. Therefore, teeth become crowded and can erupt in odd places and at odd angles in the mouth.

  • Overbite: An overbite is also referred to as an “overjet” and is when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. Children with overbites can experience wear on the bottom teeth, pain, popping, or other issues of the jaw joint, and gingival irritation.
  • Underbite: An underbite is when the jaw is in the closed position and the bottom teeth protrude out past the top teeth. This is caused by overgrowth of the upper jaw, undergrowth of the lower jaw, or sometimes both.
  • Crossbite: A crossbite is when the upper teeth land on the inside of the lower teeth when the jaw is in the closed position. Both the top and bottom jaw are misaligned when this happens.  Children with a crossbite can experience worn teeth, and periodontal disease leading to bone loss.
  • Deep Bite: A deep bite is similar to an overbite, but the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth so much that the lower teeth come in contact with the gum tissue on top of the mouth (upper palate or hard palate). This can cause premature tooth wear as well as damage to the hard palate tissue.

About Dr. Stewart

James R. Stewart, Jr, DDS, PC and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.