Minor misalignments of your teeth aren’t always a problem, but they can lead to cavities, jaw pain, and more. How do you know if your overbite is severe? We’ll lay out symptoms, causes, and, most importantly, how to fix an overbite.
Overbite is a condition in which the upper front teeth vertically overlap the lower front teeth.
A certain amount of overbite is normal and necessary for a healthy bite.
Severe overbite can lead to a range of issues, including gum disease and jaw pain, as well as negatively affecting self-esteem.
While genetics affect the development of overbite, a number of behavioral and environmental factors also play a role.
Overbite is correctable with treatment, with braces being the most common form of overbite correction.
Treating overbite in children is usually easier and more effective, as it’s possible to guide their physical development down healthy paths.
Preventive measures in early childhood can reduce the chances of overbite developing.
Overbite is a specific type of misalignment, in which the upper teeth at the front of the mouth overlap the lower teeth. The condition is frequently called buck teeth in less formal settings.
An ideal jaw fits together very precisely, with the chewing surfaces of teeth meeting evenly and the upper and lower jaw lining up symmetrically . Most people fall short of perfection in one way or another, with crooked teeth meeting at odd angles and misaligned jaws.
Overbite is often confused with overjet. While the two are closely related, there is a distinction. Dental overbite is also sometimes called a vertical overbite. It measures the degree to which upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth vertically. Overjet measures how far the upper teeth stick out over the lower teeth horizontally, sometimes called horizontal overbite .
When an ideal jaw comes together in a natural position, there is a slight overlap. Normal overbite is limited to between 2 and 4 millimeters, but in more severe cases, the upper jaw can overlap the lower jaw too far. The condition, called deep bite, makes biting difficult and can lead to other issues .
Overbite occurs when the upper front teeth vertically overlap the lower teeth. Overbite is distinct from overjet, which measures horizontal teeth overlap.
Most people have teeth misalignment to some degree and get through life fine. However, a more severe overbite can have correspondingly severe effects. Even in minor cases, overbite correction can reduce the odds of a range of dental issues. Serious, untreated overbite can have consequences beyond the orthodontic issues that will arise, such as:
Any sort of misalignment may make brushing difficult and therefore increase the chance of cavities and periodontal disease. Severe overbite can also lead to damage of the hinge joint of the jaw, more technically called temporomandibular joint dysfunction . The result is joint pain, restricted jaw movement, aching around the ear, and more.
One overbite problem that may be less obvious is its impact on appearance, with a corresponding effect on self-esteem .
Misaligned teeth make adequate brushing difficult and as a result, cavities and gum disease may be more likely. Joint pain in the jaw is also possible. Overbite can also have an impact on appearance and self-esteem.
Genetics plays a role in the development of overbite problems . For example, if several people in your family have severe overbites, you’re more likely to, as well. Skeletal overbite, which involves misplacement of the lower jaw backward, seems particularly linked to genetics. However, a number of other factors, particularly in early childhood, can shape development. These factors tend to be either behavioral or environmental .
Behavioral factors include:
Environmental factors include:
Genetics plays a role in the development of overbite, but factors in early development also have an important impact. Behaviors like thumb-sucking or nail-biting can increase the chances of teeth misalignments, as can environmental factors like blocked airways.
It is possible to correct an overbite. The aim of overbite correction is to adjust the position of your teeth, and sometimes jaw, so that they meet in a normal bite.
Orthodontists specialize in precisely these sorts of dental issues and have a range of treatment options available. Most patients may only need braces to get their overbite fixed, though that’s far from the only method to treat overbite. Options can include:
As we’ll discuss further down, often the most painless way to get your overbite corrected is to prevent it from getting worse in the first place. As a result, treatment as an adolescent is common. Either way, the goal is to prevent the development of upper teeth forward or to correct the relative position of upper and lower teeth .
Perhaps the most common form of correcting teeth misalignment, traditional braces can also be used to correct an overbite. When you wear braces, a small orthodontic rubber band fixes a metal wire against brackets on your teeth. The metal wire and elastic bands are used to push and pull teeth into the correct position.
There are several other types of braces that work in slightly different ways. Additionally, braces are only one type of appliance that may be used. Some apply pressure in different ways. Others, called functional appliances, can be used with different varieties of overbite correction exercise techniques.
A fixed palatal crib showed to have the most significant impact when correcting an overbite
Overbite surgery is usually used to correct an overbite only in severe cases. In particular, jaw surgery may be used to treat skeletal overbite, in which the jaw is out of position, rather than just the top teeth or bottom teeth being out of position.
Minor surgery, including tooth extraction, may be used to make room for teeth to move.
Most patients will not require surgery to correct overbite. Minor overbite is quite common, involving only a misalignment of the front, upper teeth. It can be corrected using braces and other appliances.
Clear aligners are similar in some ways to braces, as they apply pressure to move teeth. However, they don’t use wires or rubber bands. Additionally, they are usually less expensive and harder to spot. Home aligners provide a chance to correct overbites without painful visits to the orthodontist.
However, they are generally only suitable for correcting a slight overbite. They can adjust the position of the front teeth. On the other hand, they can’t address the jaw position and aren’t suitable for treating a severe overbite. Find out more about two popular brands in our detailed Byte Aligners review and AlignerCo review.
Overbite is very treatable, with braces being the most common treatment option. Surgery may be used to reposition the jaw in severe cases or to remove teeth to provide room in the jaw. Clear aligners are another option, but suitable only for minor issues.
The best time to treat overbite is in childhood. A child’s jaw is still growing and developing, a process that is surprisingly malleable. Just as poor habits in early childhood can make misalignments more likely, good habits can encourage teeth to grow into the correct position.
Additionally, some preventive medicine can save having to correct problems later. Discouraging thumb sucking and pacifier use as children get older is important, for example. In some cases, a dentist may recommend some special measures. For example, a child might be prescribed a tongue thrust exercise to get them out of the habit of pressing outward on their upper teeth .
It’s unlikely that an overbite will correct itself without treatment. A number of things factor into the development of overbite, such as your jaw position and the angle of your teeth. While bad habits can be addressed, it’s more likely misaligned teeth will remain that way, rather than moving into proper alignment on their own.
It’s probably easier to correct overbite in a child than an adult, as their continued development can be guided in healthier directions. Avoiding bad habits and environmental causes can also help prevent misalignment in the first place. However, a misalignment almost certainly won’t correct itself without treatment.
Check out these simple answers to common questions.
Probably not. Correcting an overbite means, at the least, shifting the position and angle of your teeth. Trying to make those changes on your own is more likely to make things worse.
The closest solution may be clear aligners, such as Byte. The treatment involves making your own molds and mailing them to the aligner company, which ships their product back to you. Even that, however, is done with the guidance of a dental health professional.
Your teeth will continue to shift slightly throughout your life. People who had braces as children may find they need some minor treatment as they age to keep that perfect smile. As a result, there may not be a truly ‘permanent’ solution.
However, it can be corrected to the point you don’t have to worry about it anymore. An orthodontist will tailor a treatment plan to your needs, though it will involve repositioning the upper teeth and potentially the lower teeth.
Most treatments for correcting an overbite will probably include braces or another appliance at some point. Overbite occurs when teeth are out of position or angled incorrectly, which can only be corrected by pushing and pulling teeth into the right spot. Appliances like braces are the current method of applying that sort of pressure.
A cosmetic dentist may have less obvious options. In some cases, clear aligners are a braces alternative.
Teeth shift as we age, so it’s possible. A greater concern is that the effects of misalignment accumulate and worsen with time, rather than the overbite itself worsening. Tooth decay and periodontal disease can have long-term impacts, for example.
With overbite, it’s common to develop jaw pain in the temporomandibular joint. Along with TMJ pain, you may hear a popping or cracking sound when you move your jaw or even have limited motion in your jaw.
It might depend on the severity of the overbite. A certain amount is normal and allows for a healthy bite. Severe cases can lead to jaw problems, excessive wear on teeth, and other problems that are better avoided.
Most people don’t stop to wonder if their jaw is aligned properly or if their teeth meet in just the right way. As with a lot of health issues, we don’t think about how our bodies work. As a result, we may not always notice when our body no longer functions in a healthy way. While it may not be our chief health concern, addressing overbite and other misalignments is a relatively small change that can have a big impact on your health.