What is an overbite? This type of orthodontic issue is one of the most common in the world. Many people struggle with an overbite. This misalignment can be aesthetically unattractive, even changing the appearance of one’s facial bone structure. In addition, an overbite can cause a great deal of serious dental issues if left untreated. Regardless of your age, there are several ways that overbites can be treated by an experienced orthodontist.
What Is an Overbite?
Also called a malocclusion, an overbite is diagnosed when upper teeth extend further than lower teeth by more than 30%. Many people mistake this for simple crooked teeth when in fact the jaw is not lining up correctly. In many cases, this condition is hereditary.
There are several different kinds of overbite. In a dental overbite, the jaw is aligned correctly but the teeth stick out. In a skeletal overbite, the jaw is actually misaligned. There are also vertical and horizontal overbites, in which the teeth overlap in different ways. Most people with a noticeable overbite have a combination of these issues. All can be treated effectively with high-quality orthodontic care.
If you have an overbite, you are not alone. An overbite is one of the most common dental and orthodontic issues. Many dentists estimate that up to 70% of children have this issue. While it is seen as cute in children, it can cause low self-esteem, a less attractive smile, and even serious dental issues if it is not treated. Some children are even bullied due to misaligned teeth, causing serious issues with social development and education.
What Are the Causes of an Overbite?
One of the most common causes of an overbite is a mismatch between the size of the jaw and the size of the teeth. If the teeth are too big for the jaw, they come in crowded and then stick out at an angle to create more room. If the teeth are too small for the jaw, they can be spaced unevenly. In some cases, unevenly or excessively spaced teeth are not properly held in place and can easily grow in crooked.
In addition, there are behaviors that can cause or worsen an overbite. Excessive thumbsucking and pacifier use can push the top teeth forward, creating an overbite. In extreme cases, they can even affect the shape of the jaw. Nail-biting, chewing habitually on hard objects such as pencils, and other repetitive biting can cause overbite in older children and adults. Tooth-grinding, clenching, TMJ dysfunction, and other health issues also can force the top teeth forward.
What are the causes of an overbite? While many of the aforementioned behaviors contribute, they are rarely completely to blame. In most cases, an overbite is at least partially genetic. It is common to see the same overbite in parents, grandparents, and siblings. Behaviors can then make this overbite more severe or cause other damage to the teeth.
People should not be embarrassed if they have misaligned teeth. This is not your fault. However, it is important to get these issues treated.
Can Overbites Cause Dental Issues?
An overbite can definitely cause cosmetic issues. Many people are embarrassed about their teeth and their smiles because of this common issue. However, this type of malocclusion is not entirely an aesthetic one. An overbite and the associated malpositioning of teeth and jaw can cause permanent dental damage as well as a variety of serious medical problems. These issues include:
- Uneven wear on teeth and their enamel
- Cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues
- Pain or difficulty in eating and moving the mouth
- Jaw pain or clicking
- Speech issues
- Snoring and sleep apnea
- Dramatic changes in facial appearance and bone structure
- TMJ dysfunction as well as tooth grinding and associated problems
- Permanent damage to teeth and gums
However, there is no need to let these issues occur. Orthodontists know how to fix an overbite and have a variety of treatments from which to choose. A treatment plan can be made that straightens and aligns your upper and lower teeth and jaw, giving you the beautiful smile and healthy bite that you seek.
How to Fix an Overbite
Treating an overbite requires a treatment plan made by an orthodontist. In many cases, there are several issues contributing to the issue that must be corrected.
First, many adults need dental care to fix existing damage to their teeth. An overbite often causes issues with enamel, teeth, and gums that should be treated before beginning orthodontic work. Your dentist and orthodontist will work together to coordinate your care.
Special x-rays and modeling software are commonly used to determine the exact cause of the overbite. Once this is accomplished, a treatment plan is made to address the unique needs of each patient. In most cases, this treatment plan will take around two years, although severe cases may take longer.
Overcrowding of teeth is one of the most common contributors to an overbite. In these cases, spacers can be installed to increase room in the jaw. Removing baby teeth, wisdom teeth, and other teeth that are unneeded also can help. Braces can then be used to align teeth into the correct positions. A retainer is often needed after braces to help teeth stay aligned.
Treating adults is sometimes more complicated than treating children. A child’s jaw is still growing, so the growth can be guided to correct a skeletal overbite. Adults may need surgery to correct this issue as their jaw is completely developed and ossified.
Although treating an overbite can be complicated, it is almost always possible with the right orthodontic help. This will prevent many dental problems and health issues that an overbite can cause.
Ultimately, it is never too early or too late to correct an overbite. Although it is ideal to address orthodontic issues at ages 10-14 years, adults also should have their overbite addressed. If you are ready to get the beautiful and healthy alignment of your teeth and jaws, call an orthodontist today.
Having an Overbite, What [Treatment] Can Be Recommended?
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