What’s an Overbite?
When you start talking about different classifications of malocclusions and bite issues, overbites are one of the most common. An overbite is when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much when you close down. They’re different than overjets (where the front jaw or teeth jets out in front of the lower) and open bites (where the teeth don’t touch one another when your jaws are fully closed together.)
An ever-so-slight “overbite” is actually ideal. The upper front teeth should just barely overlap the lower front teeth. But once it becomes so significant that the overlap is excessive, it’s considered an issue requiring orthodontic intervention. It could even be so severe that you don’t see the lower front teeth at all, because they’re completely overlapped by the upper front teeth.
Depending on the severity of your overbite, the lower front teeth may actually bite into the backside of the upper front teeth. Notably, this can lead to eventual trauma and wear to the tooth enamel on both upper and lower teeth, causing them to grind each other down.
There are even overbites where the lower teeth hit into the gums behind the upper front teeth, which can lead to additional structural and oral health concerns, including trauma to the soft tissues.
What Causes an Overbite?
More often than not, the cause of an overbite is typically related to hereditary issues. Perhaps one of your parents had one, and it was passed on to you. Getting an orthodontic evaluation early on (usually by age 7) can help to intercept the development of an overbite so that it can be corrected before the jaws are fully formed.
However, many people misunderstand the difference between overbites and overjets. The causes of overjets — which people frequently refer to as “overbites” — is typically due to oral habits such as extended thumb sucking, finger sucking, pacifier use, or sippy cup use well into toddlerhood. Different from overbites, overjets are typically caused by physical adaption of the jaw to prolonged pressure from self-soothing habits.
Types of Overbite Correction Treatment
Since overbites are a misalignment of how the teeth and jaws fit together, an orthodontic specialist is typically best suited to address them.
In many cases, people getting orthodontic treatment at Braces Haven will have conventional bracket and wire systems. Occasionally additional orthodontic appliances such as a palatal expander or elastics, are used depending on the situation.
Can braces fix an overbite? Yes. However, sometimes more invasive therapy is needed. Surgery for an overbite is typically reserved for the most severe cases, where chronic pain and function are a primary concern. Surgery involves structural adjustments to the jaw anatomy, combined with orthodontic appliances such as braces.
In rare situations, it might even be necessary to remove a pair of teeth to alleviate crowding in the jaw, so that the surrounding teeth can be straightened. Fortunately, this is less common practice as newer research suggests orthodontic extractions should be restricted when there is a severe overbite.
For adults seeking orthodontic care, it’s commonly asked if Invisalign for overbites is an option. Invisalign is one of the most popular “invisible” (clear) orthodontic systems that works using a series of trays, instead of traditional brackets and wires. Over the past several years, Invisalign has advanced to successfully manage a wider range of moderate to severe malocclusions. It must be decided on a case-by-case basis, so it’s important for our Barrhaven Orthodontist to evaluate your mouth and individual needs to see if you qualify.
The Importance of Correcting Overbites
Even if your overbite doesn’t pose an esthetic concern, there are significant reasons why you should address the issue. Some are more serious than others. Here are some of the side-effects of having an overbite and why treating them is important:
Abnormal Tooth Wear — Tooth enamel is the absolute hardest substance in the entire human body. When teeth wear against teeth excessively or in the wrong direction, the enamel can actually grind itself down prematurely.
Increased risk of injuries — Teeth that tend to extend out past the others at the front of your smile are usually more prone to chipped or broken enamel due to traumatic injuries. Especially if you’re involved in athletic activities.
Speech impediments — Malocclusions change the way you make specific sounds with your tongue and lips, which could interfere with natural speech patterns.
Strain to your TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) — When teeth don’t bite together properly, your TMJ “jaw joint” must move in atypical directions in order to properly chew and grind your food. Over time, this can lead to physical strain to the joint, ligaments, and muscles around your TMJ.
Headaches — Although TMJ pain is common with malocclusions, often that muscular pain can extend into your face, forehead, temples, or even down through your neck. Headaches and migraines are more common for people with atypical bites.
Sleep Apnea — Did you know that your jaw position can increase your risk of sleeping disorders like sleep apnea?
Visit Braces Haven Today
Dr. Charles Cohen and our orthodontic team are happy to answer any questions about your smile, including the best type of overbite treatment for your situation. Request your free consultation with us today.