Overbite is one of the most common malocclusion or orthodontic problems. But, what causes an overbite, what happens if you left it untreated and how to fix it completely?
Let’s know about overbite in detail and get all the answers to the questions.
What Is An Overbite?
Generally, overbite is a type of malocclusion in which upper teeth protrude over the lower teeth excessively or overlap the lower teeth more than normal. It can be associated with other problems like crooked or crowded teeth. People also call it buck teeth.
People who have an overbite may also have other issues such as:
- Crooked or crowded teeth
- Retruded lower teeth
- Narrow upper jaw
- Bad oral habits
- Open bite
- Underdeveloped jaw
- Excessive growth of the upper jaw
In orthodontics, the term overbite is a little bit different. To know it you have to know about the types of overbites. Let’s find out the right terms.
Types of overbite
Overbites are of two types based on their position such as horizontal and vertical.
Overbite is a natural condition. Your top teeth normally overlap the bottom teeth by 2-3 mm. But, when it’s more than that it’s called a deep bite or excess vertical overbite, which isn’t normal.
What people call an overbite is actually an excess overjet. Normally, the top front teeth are protruded 2-3 mm forward than the bottom teeth. This is a normal overjet.
But, when it exceeds this range, it’s called an increased overjet, horizontal overbite, or class 2 overbite.
In this article, you will use the term “overbite” to mean an excessive vertical or horizontal overbite
Again, Overbite can be of two categories depending on nature – dental and skeletal.
In a dental overbite, teeth are responsible for the condition. Teeth are misaligned or protruded because of their poor positioning or arrangements. There is no problem with the jaw bone.
Commonly it occurs due to bad oral habits or loss of baby teeth at the wrong time. This condition doesn’t need jaw surgery to correct an overbite
In a skeletal overbite, the size, or shape of jawbones are the main cause. When there is a growth problem, the upper jaw may be bigger or the lower jaw may be smaller than normal.
So, the upper jaw is more forwardly placed than the lower jaw causing an overbite. In this case, teeth aren’t responsible for the condition.
So, correcting the skeletal problem fixes the overbite. This condition needs orthognathic or jaw surgery.
Both dental and skeletal overbite may be present in some people at the same time.
What causes an overbite?
Two main causes are responsible for developing an overbite. Those are childhood habits and hereditary. Let’s take a look at the causes.
Genetics and growth problems of the jaw
You know that many diseases or physical conditions are passed down through the generations.
If your parents or grandparents have this problem, it may be that you have the same problem. Just like that one of the most common causes of an overbite is genetics and the shape of the jaw.
When jawbones start to develop, some children may end up having a big jaw while some may have an underdeveloped jaw. In these conditions, teeth can’t organize themselves perfectly in the mouth.
If the jaw is short, teeth don’t get enough space for them. So, they may become crowded or stick out.
However, if jaws have more space than required, the child develops spacing between teeth.
Developmental problems may cause various malocclusions such as an overbite, underbite, crooked teeth, impacted teeth, missing teeth, and other orthodontic problems.
Finger sucking is a common problem in children and also a very common cause of an overbite.
You must persuade your child to do this, as you know germ may insert into their stomach. But, do you know, it’s also responsible for many orthodontic problems?
When your kids suck their thumb, they put pressure on the teeth. When they do it, the thumb lies between the tongue and teeth.
Pressure from the thumb and teeth pushes the upper teeth forward and lower teeth backward. So, gradually, teeth start to move and produce an overbite, protruded teeth, and an open bite.
As the thumb presses the roof of the mouth or palatal as well, the child also develops a narrow palatal. This further causes top teeth to stick out.
This habit can be considered natural until the age of 4. But, after that, you need to be aware of it.
Learn how to fix an overbite from thumbsucking.
Tongue thrusting is a habit that you can’t easily notice. Not only children may have the habit but also adults.
In this habit, the patient presses the teeth with the tongue. Commonly it causes an open bite where the teeth of the upper jaw can’t come in contact with the lower jaw. But, this can also lead to an overbite.
Some do it while awake and some do it while they are asleep.
There are a number of factors that can be responsible for the habit. It may be a continuation of childhood habits or due to other causes like tonsils or adenoids, stress, or bad swallowing habits.
Overusing of a bottle
Long-term bottle feeding isn’t good for the dental health of your child. It can cause tooth caries as well as an overbite and open bite. This also puts pressure on the teeth and they become stick out.
Many parents think pacifiers can help get rid of thumbsucking habits. But, It’s wrong.
Similar to thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting, this device pushes the teeth and moves them over time.
According to a study by the American dental association, the pacifier has a higher risk of developing an overbite than other habits.
Bruxism or teeth grinding habit causes unusual pressure on teeth. It can move your teeth and the top of the teeth gets damaged.
Biting nails or chewing on pens or pencils
Many teens and adults have a habit of biting on nails continuously. Some chew on pens or pencils.
They do it when they are under stress. Some may do it due to other causes. Just like thumbsucking, this habit also presses teeth and may cause a bite problem.
Early or delayed loss of primary teeth with no follow-up
Many people aren’t aware of the loss of the primary teeth of their kids. Baby teeth fall out at a certain time. If it doesn’t maintain the schedule, follow-up treatment will be necessary.
Early or delayed loss of primary teeth causes permanent teeth to erupt in an improper position. This leads to different types of malocclusions including an overbite.
But, if a dentist supervises the condition and takes the appropriate measurements, prevention is possible.
It’s important to breathe naturally through the nose. If you have a breathing disorder like blockage of a nasal pathway or sleep apnea, you develop mouth breathing habits.
It is very important to keep your lips closed and maintain a soft tissue balance for a certain duration. A mouth breather can’t maintain it.
This leads to stick-out teeth, open bites, and other malocclusions.
Sometimes, TMJ dysfunctions can be a cause of a bite problem. So, before fixing the overbite, it’s important to find out the actual cause.
Jaw cyst and tumors
Rarely someone may have misaligned teeth due to a cyst or tumor in the jaw or mouth. Because of the swelling, teeth may be disorganized causing an overbite and other malocclusions.
However, you don’t need to be worried about it, because if you have a cyst or tumor, you may become concerned about other signs and symptoms, not solely for an overbite.
How To Fix An Overbite In adults?
Let’s take a look at the steps of overbite correction in adults.
1. Diagnosing the cases and severity
You have to visit an orthodontist’s office for the overbite. First of all, he evaluates your teeth, jaw, and mouth properly. He diagnoses the severity and types of overbites from an x-ray and mold.
That’s why he takes an x-ray and impression of your teeth to make a mold at the first appointment. After that, he designs a treatment plan.
2. Fixing the overbite
After finding out the cause of overbite, you will need one of the following treatment options to fix the bite.
Braces treatment is the first name that comes to mind when talking about any malocclusions.
Just like correcting crooked or crowded teeth braces also can fix an overbite. It works perfectly in adults and treats all the errors.
You can get braces to treat mild to severe overbite. In some cases, where surgery or tooth extraction is necessary, braces can also be helpful.
You get brackets, bands, archwires, and thin wires for this treatment. But, to fix the overbite specifically, you need rubber bands or springs.
They connect your both jaws and help move your upper teeth back and lower teeth forward.
The orthodontist provided an ideal force and pressure to the teeth to produce tooth movement.
Traditionally braces are made of metal. You can also get ceramic braces if you feel metal braces don’t make you look good.
Braces treatment includes different forces are that used to shift the teeth in the desired direction.
There are two stages of this treatment. One is straightening and aligning the teeth and the other is fixing the overbite.
Braces may take on average 1 to 2 years to solve all the problems. It depends on cases and different factors.
Invisalign clear aligner
Invisalign is a great alternative to braces that are also getting popular day by day. This is a clear plastic aligner and less noticeable.
So, if you are worried about your look, you may go with it.
It’s similarly effective as braces for an overbite.
You may need to wear it for 12 to 24 months depending on the amount of bite and severity.
This device also uses elastic bands with the help of precious cuts.
During the treatments, you get new sets of custom-made trays every 2 weeks.
You also need a retainer after the end of Invisalign treatment to hold teeth in position just like braces.
Invisalign can’t correct the skeletal overbite and some complicated cases. So, talk to an orthodontist to know it.
Though it helps you give a pleasant appearance, the cost is a little bit higher than braces. But, you may also find some clear aligners that cost less or offer you a discount.
Know more about Invisalign for overbite with costs and duration of treatment.
At-home teeth straighteners
You can take help from at-home teeth straighteners if you have a minor or moderate overbite.
This is similar to Invisalign but comes at a low cost and you can take this treatment from home.
You can get this treatment from a company named BYTE, as it’s very popular. Smile direct club is another well-known company.
When the amount of overbite is high, the arch length isn’t enough to hold the teeth properly, or there are other problems along with overbite, you may need tooth extraction before getting braces or a clear aligner.
In those cases, we can’t fix the overbite completely without extraction. If you remove a certain number of teeth, the remaining teeth can be aligned properly giving a natural look.
We can also get benefit from teeth removal in some minor skeletal cases.
Moreover, if you don’t prefer jaw surgery, extraction with braces treatment can be a good alternative. But, it varies from case to case.
You may need to extract two or more teeth for that.
Know when and how you need a tooth extraction for orthodontic treatment.
In adults, skeletal overbite is corrected with help of jaw surgery. The clinical term of the surgery is orthognathic surgery.
You can’t change the position of the jaw bones in adults, as growth has been completed.
So, by performing the surgery, we can give the jaw the perfect shape fixing the small or big jaw.
After the surgery, you may or may not need braces to correct the remaining misalignment of teeth.
When your teeth are straight and overbite is corrected, your braces or Invisalign are removed.
After that, the Retention phase begins. In this phase, you have to wear a retainer for 6 to 12 months.
This is to hold the teeth in a new position, otherwise, teeth will reproduce the overbite.
4. Habit breaking and Treating the complications
We shouldn’t only focus on correcting the overbite. We need to eliminate the causes of overbites as well. In severe cases, it’s also necessary to solve all the complications.
In adults, tongue thrusting, nail-biting, chewing on pens or pencils, and mouth breathing may be present.
An orthodontist evaluates all of these and treats and encourages you to quit those habits.
Without solving these, an overbite may not be fixed perfectly or it may recur after treatment.
If you have tongue thrusting habits, you can learn and perform the exercise to get rid of the habits and reduce the overbite.
TMJ Splint Therapy
This can be necessary in case of a severe and long-standing overbite. If you don’t treat severe overbites, it may cause TMJ disorder.
You may have jaw pain, swelling at the side of the face, difficulty in eating, speech disturbance, clicking sound in TMJ, and limited mouth opening.
Often, TMJ dysfunctions are associated with habits like teeth grinding, tongue thrusting, or thumbsucking.
So, along with fixing overbite, you need TMJ spirit therapy to treat the TMJ disorders or you will face serious complications in the future.
In this therapy, you have to wear a special device in your mouth that covers the teeth of both jaws. It relieves pressure on the joints and relaxes the jaw muscles.
How do you fix an overbite in a child and teen?
In the case of children, this treatment may be slightly different. In growing children, age 12 or below, we can correct the overbite even before it causes any problem.
A jaw or palatal expander expands the upper jaw of the child. This creates more space for the teeth in the arch.
So, developing overbite can easily get corrected.
Two pieces of the plate are applied to the palate that is connected by an expansion screw.
The orthodontist controls it using the screw. He applies pressure on the jaw that widens it gradually. We take advantage of the growth of jaw bones to fix it.
This is a great option for the children. Orthodontic headgears are a growth modification device.
It uses growth as well just like jaw expanders to correct all the problems. It also moves the jaw as well as the teeth with help of tension.
An orthodontist controls the growth of the bones and prevents them from getting bigger or smaller than normal.
At the end of treatment, both jaws align properly with each other and fix the overbite.
Braces are everywhere. One of the best options to correct an overbite in children and teenagers is braces.
Stages and procedures are the same as in adults. But, a child or teen may expect a faster result than adults.
Children and teens can get Invisalign to fix an overbite effectively.
Growing children requires special attachment known as Invisalign mandibular advancement.
After completion of growth, mandibular advancement doesn’t work.
So, they need elastic bands to correct the bites.
Removable appliances with labial bow
This is an old-school technique, but can also be effective in some minor cases where overbite is 1-2 mm excess.
In this technique, kids get removable acrylic-made appliances in the mouth. The retainer that we used in the retention phase of orthodontic treatment can’t move the teeth.
But, this retainer contains an active labial bow that puts pressure on teeth to cause them to shift.
But, this method isn’t very effective in most cases.
Retainers and retention
Children must need a retainer after the correction of overbite so that teeth can’t move back to their old position.
Extraction of primary teeth
When a jaw or arch doesn’t have enough space for the teeth to move them into the desired position, a child or teen may need a tooth extraction.
Besides, baby teeth are responsible for the overbite, it should be removed to create space for the permanent teeth.
Elimination of habits
Encourage and praise your kids to give up the habits like thumbsucking, tongue thrusting, nail-biting, and using a pacifier.
You can also teach them exercises to prevent the habit to reduce overbite.
To prevent thumbsucking, you can use finger guards or gloves. When they are attached to the fingers, kids don’t like to suck their fingers.
You can also apply a special elbow brace to prevent the habits.
This device stops bending the arm and prevents the child from inserting a finger in the mouth.
How to fix overbite without surgery?
If jaw surgery is necessary for overbite correction, you should have the surgery to get the best results, because the problem with the jaw bone can’t be solved by other methods.
However, if you still don’t want to avoid the surgical innervation and your orthodontist permits you, you may have braces treatment.
Braces can reduce the overbite and give you a better smile than before. In that case, you need tooth extraction before getting the braces.
Skeletal overbite correction
Skeletal overbite needs orthognathic or jaw surgery to fix it permanently.
You may get your teeth extracted in some minor cases and take braces treatment to fix the bite.
How to correct an overbite fast?
Orthodontic treatment needs to maintain a lot of discipline and follow all instructions by the orthodontist. If you can do that, you can expect a faster result. In growing children, an overbite can be fixed faster than in adults. Severe overbite needs more time to correct than mild cases.
How to fix an overbite on your own?
You can’t correct an overbite on your own. Performing orthodontic treatment needs a specialist dentist with an MDS degree in the subject. If you try to move the teeth to fix overbite on your own, you will end up having damaged teeth and other serious complications.
The orthodontist uses special types of equipment and materials and applies an ideal force to produce orthodontic movement. So, don’t ever think of doing so.
When to seek an orthodontist?
You should visit an orthodontist with your children by the age of 6-7 when permanent teeth start to erupt.
This is a good time when developing overbite can be detected and prevention is possible.
An overbite should be prevented at the early stage instead of letting it develop in the future.
However, it’s recommended that you visit the dentist or orthodontist’s office every 6 to 12 months with your children.
If the overbite only causes a problem with your esthetic, you may take the treatment when you are ready for it.
However, if it causes any functional problems and other complications, you should take it seriously and consult an orthodontist.
If you let it untreated, you may face serious trouble in the future and you can’t live a healthy life.
You should also seek an orthodontist when you have a severe or skeletal overbite.
When you first visit an orthodontist, he will evaluate your condition and tell you all the available options for the correction of overbite.
Factors determining the treatment options
Let’s take a look at the factors that determine the treatment option to fix an overbite.
Age is one of the most important factors that determine your treatment options. Growing children can get a growth modification device as well as braces and Invisalign. Other the other hand, adults may need braces, Invisalign, or jaw surgery depending on the case.
Children may get a quicker result than adults.
Severity of overbite
Skeletal overbite requires jaw surgery whereas dental overbite may be corrected with braces,
Invisalign and other treatments.
Mild cases can be fixed faster while severe cases need more time to correct.
Invisalign usually costs you more than braces. Think about the pros and cons of all treatment options, and then decide what’s best for you.
The treatment option also depends on the satisfaction of the patient. An orthodontist provides you many options and you are the one who makes the final decision.
What happens if an overbite is not corrected?
If a kid has a severe overbite at an early age, the condition may become worse over the years if it’s left untreated. The following problems may occur if you don’t correct an excess overbite:
Altered facial structure
An excessive overbite changes your facial structure and jawline. Since the lower jaw stays more backward than the upper jaw, it makes the face look more convex from the side.
In addition, the chin remains retruded and looks short. Moreover, cheekbones look less pronounced.
From the front side, the face looks almost rounded.
All of these don’t look natural. However, all cases are not the same and facial appearance may vary as well.
Check out my other articles where I have discussed how braces can change your face and jawline to give you a natural look.
Many people have low self-esteem because of the excess overbite. This is because their facial structure may not look the same as others.
Some of them become psychologically as well. This special happens with the kids because of bullying. They even hesitate to smile or talk confidently.
So, this condition needs to be treated or the child needs to be motivated.
However, you have to remember that all cases don’t need to be treated. That doesn’t mean he will have low self-esteem.
Even though you or your kid’s facial appearance may not be the same as the others, you have to know or teach your kid that every individual has unique skills and capabilities.
A facial appearance doesn’t make someone great. Instead, they need to be happy because of every other thing that they have at this moment.
When your upper front teeth are protruded forward, your lower front teeth come in contact with the gum of the back of your upper front teeth.
Because of that when you move your teeth for eating, talking, or other activities, your gums get hurt and wear away. Overtime games get inflamed and expose the teeth.
This condition is called gum recession. In this way, an excess overbite can lead to gum diseases such as gum recession, gingivitis, or periodontal diseases, and worsen the situation.
Worn tooth enamel
As you cannot maintain a balanced bite, there is a possibility that your tooth enamel may wear down.
This may increase the risk if you have a tooth grinding problem while sleeping.
As an untreated overbite may wear enamel, it makes the dental condition friendly to bacteria and acid.
This increases the chance of developing excessive plaque, tartar, and tooth decay.
When you have an excessive anterior overbite, your lips cannot cover your front teeth completely.
So, they become unprotected. This increases the chance of tooth injury. Front teeth can be injured during outdoor sports or due to an accident.
Kids are prone to get injured as they fall naturally sometimes. This will enhance their risk of getting injured in the front teeth.
TMJ or temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects the mandible or lower jaw to the cheekbone and the skull. It aids you in eating, drinking, smiling, and speaking.
When you have an overbite, you may face difficulty in these functions.
Therefore, TMJ feels unusual pressure. This results in various TMJ dysfunctions such as jaw pain, face pain, headache, earache, clinking sound, or locked jaw.
Jaw and face pain
Your teeth maintain a proper relationship with each other. When you have a bite problem such as an overbite, teeth can’t maintain this relationship.
When you take a bite of something, it puts pressure on teeth as well as jaw muscles. This leads to jaw pain.
Headaches and earache
Misaligned teeth or overbite causes an uneven bite. So, it can be a cause of headaches in some people.
This occurs due to abnormal movement of the lower jaw that puts pressure on TMJ and muscle. Over time, it causes headaches and earaches.
Jaw grinding and teeth clenching
An untreated overbite can cause problems when you sleep. Some people with overbite grind their teeth or clench their jaws while sleeping.
If they continue to do that and don’t treat their overbite, over time they will develop pain in TMJ and wear down their teeth.
You may use a retainer to wear at night to protect your teeth and jaw, but to solve it permanently you need to correct the overbite.
Pain or discomfort during chewing or biting
In some severe overbite cases, people may not chew or take a bite on food properly.
This can cause pain and discomfort to the teeth and the jaw.
Limited mouth opening or difficulty closing mouth
Some people can’t open their mouth completely in some overbite cases because of a painful condition from an excess overbite.
This doesn’t happen directly. When the overbite causes functional problems and affects your TMJ, you may develop this condition.
Many people develop speech problems like lisp when they have an excess overbite.
This is because your tongue needs to touch your teeth or the roof of your mouth properly when you speak.
But, when you have an abnormal overbite you cannot do that.
Moreover, if you have an open bite with an overbite you cannot control the air in your mouth while speaking.
Rarely, some people may have obstructive sleep apnea due to a severe overbite.
In severe cases, the lower jaw may sit farther back than the upper jaw behind, and while sleeping when it’s relaxed, it causes an obstruction. So, this leads to sleep apnea and snoring.
This condition can be life-threatening if not treated.
Though most people have a normal overbite, some people have a condition where their overbite is excess.
An excess overbite may be due to abnormal oral habits or problems with the growth of the jaw bone.
An untreated excess overbite can lead to various problems such as low self-esteem, altered facial appearance, gum diseases, tooth decay, TMJ, lisp, sleep apnea, and other problems.
And excessive overbite can be treated with braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign, byte, or Smile direct club.
Minor overbite can be treated with removable retainers.
However, some cases don’t need any treatment.
An excessive overbite can be prevented early if proper treatment is done in the growing age using a palatal expander, headgear, and other devices.