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Common Orthodontic Problems

Jaw and Teeth Abnormalities Occur Frequently

Many types of teeth or jaw abnormalities can create an improper bite, or malocclusion. These abnormalities are fairly common and range from mild to severe. Below are some of the most common cases we see and some options we use for treating them. Dr. Reichard will diagnose your particular situation and develop a treatment plan customized to your specific needs for the best result.


Crowding happens when the jaw doesn’t have enough space to accommodate all of the teeth. As the teeth compete for space and push together, one or more teeth might twist, overlap or protrude.

Treating Crowded Teeth
Most mild to moderate cases are treated with braces, Invisalign or clear aligners. Jaw expansion, tooth recontouring (resizing) or tooth extractions might be recommended for more severe cases.


Spacing occurs when there is too much space between teeth. As the teeth can’t fill all of the jaw space, distinct gaps show up between the teeth.

Treating Spaced Teeth
Braces, Invisalign or clear aligners can close most mild and moderate gaps. If orthodontic treatment alone won’t close severe gaps, we may recommend veneers to make the teeth appear wider.


An underbite occurs when the lower jaw sticks out beyond the upper jaw. This causes the chin to protrude forward and all the bottom teeth sit in front of the top teeth.

Treating an Underbite
A palate expander and braces are typically recommended for younger patients with underbites. Older patients may need orthodontic treatment paired with jaw surgery.


A crossbite occurs when one lower tooth, or a group of lower teeth, sits outside the upper teeth. Crossbites can occur in the front (anterior), back (posterior) or both.

Treating a Crossbite
Braces, Invisalign or clear aligners can treat most anterior crossbites. Posterior crossbites may require a palate expander paired with braces, Invisalign or clear aligners.


An overbite occurs when there is excess vertical overlap of the upper and lower teeth; this is also called deep bite. An overjet occurs when there is excess horizontal overlap between the upper and lower front teeth. It is sometimes referred to as “having buck teeth.”

Treating an Overbite/Overjet
Braces, and sometimes Invisalign or clear aligners, can treat most overbites/overjets. More severe overbites/overjets may need additional jaw-positioning appliances and/or surgery.


An openbite occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not meet when the jaws are closed. Openbites can occur in the front (anterior) or back (posterior) teeth. Patients with openbites have great difficulty chewing properly.

Treating an Openbite
There are a variety of orthodontic appliances that may be recommended for younger patients with openbites, followed by braces, Invisalign or clear aligners. Older patients may require jaw surgery paired with orthodontic treatment.

Impacted or Missing Tooth

An impacted tooth occurs when the tooth is in the correct position but has not fully erupted from the gums. A tooth is fully impacted when it has not broken through the gum at all, whereas a partially impacted tooth has appeared but not fully broken through. The most common teeth to be impacted are the third molars (wisdom teeth) and upper canines (eyeteeth or cuspids).

Treating an Impacted Tooth
Especially for an impacted canine, we usually encourage the tooth to erupt, either by extracting any remaining baby teeth or using braces or expanders. Impacted teeth may damage the roots of nearby teeth and are prone to a number of dental problems like infection, decay, gum disease and more. If the tooth does not erupt, we will monitor the tooth and recommend extraction if necessary.

Ectopic Tooth

An ectopic tooth erupts somewhere it shouldn’t. Most commonly, canine (or eyeteeth or cuspids) may erupt in the roof of the mouth or up high like a “fang” instead of on the gumline. First molars are also prone to erupt ectopically.

Treating an Ectopic Tooth
Braces can be used to reposition most ectopic teeth. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to expose the tooth before braces are fitted. On rare occasions, the ectopic tooth may be extracted, particularly if there is already significant crowding.