Did you know that 8% of people¹ have a severe overbite? An overbite is one of the many dental conditions that can seriously affect one’s self-confidence. In fact, some may be so embarrassed about their teeth that they may be afraid to smile. If you have an overbite, you may want to know what caused it and what treatment options there are. Luckily, you’ve clicked on the right article to find your answers. In this article, we’ll be exploring overbite treatment options, causes, and why it’s important to have overbites treated. Let’s get right into the details of what an overbite is and why it happens.
What Is an Overbite
An overbite², or buck teeth, affects the top front teeth. One has an overbite when these front teeth protrude out over the lower set of teeth. An overbite is a type of tooth misalignment or crookedness known as malocclusion. Overbites are a cosmetic worry, but they can also have health concerns. These concerns include jaw pain, gum disease, and even tooth decay. People with an overbite may also find that they have trouble speaking, breathing, and chewing. People with an overbite may be more prone to developing cavities. They may also be at a higher risk of developing temporomandibular disorders (TMD). An overbite is a relatively common dental problem. Most cases are mild and are not of much cause for concern. However, in moderate in severe cases, it is important to have the overbite treated. However, what causes an overbite in the first place, and is there any way to prevent it?
The Causes of an Overbite
There are many possible causes of an overbite. In some cases, an overbite is genetic³. For example, a certain family may be more likely to have unique jaw development that increases the likelihood of developing an overbite. When genetic jaw formation is in question, the problem with the lower jaw is that it usually is too small in comparison with the upper jaw. Because the lower jaw is small, the lower set of teeth have more room to grow in the mouth until they end up pressing against the upper set of teeth. When this occurs, over time, the upper teeth will push outward to protrude out from the mouth. While this most noticeably affects the upper teeth, the lower teeth may also suffer from crowding and crookedness. However, an overbite does not result from genetic causes alone. There are several other overbite culprits that have nothing to do with genetics and they often take place while teeth are still developing. A common example is children over the age of three continuing to suck their thumb or use a pacifier. This continuous sucking action can eventually lead to the development of an overbite due to the persistent pressure on the front teeth. Nail-biting is another common cause of overbites, as is teeth grinding. Virtually any habit that puts pressure on the front teeth for extended periods of time may contribute to the development of an overbite. It is usually easy to diagnose an overbite, because a dentist will be able to recognize it right away. X-rays can see the overall seriousness of the overbite and tooth alignment. If your overbite is serious enough, you may need to see an orthodontist in place of an ordinary dentist. So, what are the overbite treatment options?
Overbite Treatment Options
Leaving an overbite untreated can be bad for your overall dental health. Beyond that, a bad overbite can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Many people with overbites often have mandible pain from their misaligned jaw and teeth. Children that have overbites should especially have their teeth corrected. This is because overbites in children can interfere with proper facial muscle development. In adults, overbites can cause sleep apnea, which can lead to sleep deprivation. Luckily, age doesn’t matter when it comes to treating overbites† in adults and children. However, treatment methods do slightly differ between adults and children. One of the first treatment methods we will explore is surgery.
Surgery for Treating an Overbite
Surgery is not the most affordable overbite treatment, but it certainly can work in severe cases. Overbite treatment surgery is usually used for adults rather than children. This is because this is the most direct way to treat jaws that have already developed fully. To check if you are a good candidate for overbite surgery, a dentist will take X-rays of your skull and jaw. The X-ray will be able to elucidate whether your jaw bone is misaligned. If it is, surgery may be a good option. This is because, in such a severe case, treating the entire misaligned jaw will produce better effects than only treating the teeth. This kind of surgery is, however, invasive and involves the use of anesthesia to render you unconscious. While you are unconscious, the dentist will be able to realign your jaw. This may require parts of the jaw to be removed or reshaped. As soon as the jaw is properly aligned, the dentist will drill special plates into the bone in order for it to keep its shape. You may worry about scarring for such an invasive surgery. However, the incisions made in this procedure are on the inside of the mouth and therefore invisible to onlookers. It is important to remember to take care of these incisions to ensure they will not become infected after surgery.
Tooth Removal for Treating Overbite
Removing baby teeth is a common treatment option for children. This option can be especially helpful if the teeth are also very crowded. Usually, no more than one or two teeth are removed. By removing baby teeth, there will be more room in the mouth for the adult teeth to erupt properly. This is not a common option for adults, but it is available to choose from. In adults, the removal of teeth will allow the remaining teeth more space. For children, if tooth removal is not needed, other options may include a growth modification device. These devices make sure that the jaw does not become misaligned during growth and development. A retainer may also be an option instead. A retainer is a device placed in the mouth to prevent teeth from shifting in the mouth. Since the retainer will keep the teeth in place, they will not have the chance to crowd or overlap each other to form an overbite. So far you’ve seen surgery and tooth removal as treatment options, but what if you want an option that’s not so invasive? Clear braces may be just what you’re looking for.
Clear Braces for Treating Overbite
Clear braces are great for teeth straightening and overbite treatment for a variety of reasons. One of the most prominent reasons is that they are very affordable‡ compared to surgery, braces, and other overbite options. As mentioned before, overbites are often caused when persistent pressure is applied to the teeth. Clear braces work in the same way, but with opposite effects. Since clear braces put steady pressure on the teeth, the teeth are slowly able to shift back into their proper positions. One of the many benefits of clear braces is that they are removable, unlike ordinary braces. There is also no fear of having your teeth stained by braces. However, clear braces must be worn for the majority of the day for at least 22 hours. Clear braces should be removed when eating and brushing your teeth. It is important to remember to wear them while sleeping. However, if you’re worried about the look for clear braces, you shouldn’t be. While ordinary braces are obvious, clear braces are indeed clear and hard for onlookers to notice. If you’re already self-conscious about your teeth, clear braces are a great option. When you get clear braces, you will be given several aligning trays for your teeth. Every few weeks, you will switch to a new tray that is shaped differently from the last. This will make sure that your teeth are realigning properly. The number of trays you will have will depend on the severity of your overbite. The time it takes for your overbite to be fixed will also depend on its severity, but it often is greatly improved within a year. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and don’t want an invasive treatment, clear braces might be perfect for you.
How to Fix Overbite
You are now familiar with what an overbite is, how it’s caused, and how it’s treated. Now that you know about the different overbite treatment options, you can decide which might be right for you.
Overbite vs. Underbite: What’s the Difference? (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/teeth-straightening/overbite-versus-underbite
Brunelle, J. A., Bhat, M., & Lipton, J. A. (1996). Prevalence and distribution of selected occlusal characteristics in the US population, 1988-1991. Journal of dental research, 75 Spec No, 706–713. https://doi.org/10.1177/002203459607502S10
Santos-Longhurst, A. (2019, March 21). What Causes Buck Teeth (Overbite) and How Do I Treat Them Safely? Healthline. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/buck-teeth