Did you know that over four million teens and adults in the United States wear braces? Braces are more common than you might think! With so many people wearing braces, you may be wondering whether you need them too. A strong candidate for braces usually suffers from one of five malocclusions, or tooth alignment, issues.

All of these issues can vary in complexity, so it is important that you see an orthodontist to discuss your treatment options!


There are two types of crossbites: posterior crossbites and anterior crossbites. In posterior crossbites, the top back teeth are misaligned with the bottom back teeth. With an anterior crossbite, the top front teeth are behind the bottom front teeth. 

When teeth aren’t aligned properly, they can cause stress on the jaw, which can result in pain not only in the mouth, but in the head, neck, shoulders, and back too! Children with a crossbite are more likely to grind their teeth, causing tooth loss and decay. 

Crossbites cannot correct themselves, so it is important that patients with a crossbite seek care as soon as possible to prevent chronic pain. 

Open Bite

When you close your mouth, your top and bottom teeth should rest comfortably on top of each other. When there is a gap that prevents them from meeting, this is called an open bite. It can be caused by thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, and even chewing on pencil erasers or pens. If not corrected, this bite can cause speech impediments like lisping. 

Most children who still have baby teeth have an open bite. However, if the open bite does not disappear after their adult teeth erupt, it is time to see an orthodontist. In adults, an open bite may require corrective surgery.  


When the top teeth stick out beyond the bottom teeth and cover them, this is called an overbite. A slight overbite is one of the most common malocclusions in orthodontics. Most patients have a slight overlap. Some, however, have a serious overlap.

Like other malocclusions, an overbite can be caused by genetics or by childhood habits that have caused the jaw to become misaligned, like thumb sucking. 


An overjet, like an overbite, is when your top front teeth stick out farther than your bottom teeth. While top teeth overlap bottom teeth in an overbite, top teeth protrude over bottom teeth in an overjet. 

Braces can help correct the teeth, the patient’s profile, and even the patient’s self-esteem. The ideal age for treatment is between 7 and 11 years old.  


An underbite is the opposite of an overbite. Patients who have an underbite have bottom teeth that cover the top teeth. Heredity is the leading cause of an underbite. If one parent has an underbite, likely one of their children will too. But childhood behavior, like thumb sucking, can also cause an underbite. 

It’s important to treat an underbite as soon as possible because the strain caused when eating can cause pain in the jaw. Braces are one of the most common methods of treating an underbite, and are a relatively simple fix!

Contact a Lehigh Valley Orthodontist

If you find yourself in pain when you eat or speak, or are unhappy with the way your teeth appear when you smile, schedule an appointment with an orthodontist. Only they can determine whether you are suffering from one of the above malocclusions and are a candidate for braces.

Braces are the most common treatment method for bite issues and jaw misalignment, but there are other options depending on the severity of your case. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our Lehigh Valley orthodontists in Allentown or Easton. They’ll help you determine whether you’re a good candidate for braces.