An overbite is the most common condition treated by orthodontists. It is a dental condition where the top teeth either vertically overlap the bottom teeth or the top teeth protrude outward. Also called a “malocclusion,” significant overbites that are left untreated are not only an aesthetic concern for most people, but can cause many other problems.
Other problems associated with overbites include:
Wear and tear on the tooth enamel
Increased risk of tooth decay
Can cause jaw pain
Can cause a speech impediment
Increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease
Can change the structure of one’s face (appearance of mouth, smile, etc.)
Can cause loss of self-esteem if very pronounced
Causes of Overbites
An overbite can be attributed to hereditary causes or from personal habits. You may have inherited your overbite from a combination of genes from both of your parents. You may have also developed the condition due to habits such as thumb or finger sucking, which can cause the jaw to form incorrectly or the teeth to grow in the wrong direction. Other habits that contribute to overbites include chewing on pencils, nail biting, and a common habit among toddlers called tongue thrusting. This happens when the toddler pushes their tongue against the back of their front teeth every time they swallow causing the teeth to eventually push forward.
Stages of Treatment for Overbites
Braces are used to treat overbites. The traditional metal bracket braces are the most commonly used braces as they are the least expensive and provide effective results. This type of treatment typically last about 2 years, but will depend on the severity of the overbite. In the first stage of treatment called “leveling and aligning,” the teeth are straightened out using braces. In the second stage, the overbite is corrected as the braces push the top teeth back to the proper position. In some cases, the bottom teeth need to be pushed forward to some degree in order to ensure proper alignment. Braces are supplemented with rubber bands, springs, coils, or headgear. Since most children and teenagers prefer not to wear headgear, orthodontists often recommend the use of rubber bands, springs, and coils.
Lingual braces offer an effective alternative for adults who prefer a less conspicuous option. Lingual braces are worn on the back of the teeth and are, therefore, not visible. The downside of lingual braces is that they are more expensive since the process is more difficult and orthodontists must receive additional training to know how to adhere them to the back of the teeth. Lingual braces also tend to be more painful than traditional braces. However, for those who can afford it and don’t mind the extra discomfort, they do offer an effective alternative.
If you have an overbite and believe that you can benefit from orthodontic care, it is important to discussion your options with a professional. You will then be able to determine which plan will work best for your budget and personal requirements.