When it comes to bit problems like an overbite, the cosmetic appearance is not the only thing that suffers. An overbite can also lead to other oral problems, especially left untreated.
So in this guide, we want to talk about all things overbite — how they happen, how to fix it, and what happens if you don’t do anything about it.Creative Commons
What Is An Overbite?
An overbite is when the upper teeth protrude forward farther than the lower teeth (this is also called malocclusion). At first glance, it may seem like a person who has an overbite just has crooked teeth, but it may actually be that their teeth and jaws are not aligned correctly.
What Causes An Overbite?
Most of the time, overbite is caused by genetics, when the jaw isn’t the right size for the teeth (whether too big or too little). With babies and toddlers, things like sucking their thumb, consistently using a pacifier, or using a bottle too much can lead to overbite.
For older kids, teens, and adults, biting one’s nails, grinding teeth, and chewing on pencils or pens can lead to overbite. Also, if you were to lose teeth and not get them repaired in a timely manner, you could end up with overbite. On top of that, temporomandibular joint dysfunction has been known to cause bite problems.
How To Fix An Overbite?
Fortunately for those with an overbite, today’s technology and medical innovations have led to many treatment options. It just comes down to your specific case, your orthodontist, and your preference.
When it comes to braces, you have a few options.
The first route is traditional metal braces, which involve brackets and wires that slowly realign your teeth. The brackets are cemented to the teeth and connected by the wiring. This allows the orthodontist to make adjustments that will gradually shift the teeth.
If you want braces but don’t want them to be as noticeable, you can look into ceramic braces (aka clear braces). These are tooth-colored, which are not nearly as noticeable as regular braces.
Another less flashy option is invisible braces, like Invisalign. These are basically clear plastic retainer-type devices that fit over your teeth. Every couple of weeks or so, you’d get a series of transparent aligners that fit tighter and tighter, thus shifting your teeth.
Self-ligating braces are another way to help correct an overbite. These are basically traditional braces but with no elastic or metal ties. Instead they use brackets or clips to help shift teeth (the orthodontist would uses these clips to make adjustments).
And yet another option is getting lingual braces. These actually attach to the back of your teeth rather than the front, so they’re virtually invisible to others.
If you have a severe overbite — if the upper and lower jaws are different sizes — the orthodontist or dentist may need to perform a tooth extraction teeth to help the problem. Removing a couple bicuspids from the upper teeth can be a less inconvenient alternative to jaw surgery.
As a last resort, your orthodontist may opt for jaw surgery. Before and after jaw surgery, you will be wearing braces.
In fact, the first thing the orthodontist will do is apply braces to your teeth. The point here is to move them into the right position to prepare the whole mouth for jaw surgery. You may think your smile is getting worse, but it’s only temporary.
During the surgery, the oral surgeon will properly align the upper and lower jaw bones by removing, reshaping, or grafting bone into the jaw. Your jaw will then be held in place by surgical plates, wires, screws, and rubber bands.
Recovery usually lasts about six weeks and involves braces, a certain diet, a rigorous hygiene plan, and lots of rest.
What Happens If You Don’t Treat Overbite?
Overbite is not something you want to leave untreated. The overbite will only get worse if not taken care of as soon as possible — the more clenching and grinding that happens, the more pronounced the problem gets.
Sometimes overbites can make brushing and flossing difficult, which can lead to plaque and bacteria buildup which can lead to serious oral hygiene issues. Along with that, there could be jaw pain, toothaches, and headaches, and that could negatively affect your appetite.
- An overbite can be caused by genetics, thumbsucking, biting your nails, grinding your teeth, and many other things.
- Your orthodontist and/or oral surgeon can correct an overbite with methods like braces, tooth removal, and jaw surgery.
- If you don’t treat overbite, it can lead to host of other oral problems, including pain, plaque buildup, and increasing severity.