Overbites occur when your top row of teeth overlaps your bottom row by more than normal. Many people have slight overbites that do not affect their daily routines. However, severe overbites or overbites combined with other issues can lead to many oral health problems that impact how you speak, bite, chew, and even breathe.
Continue reading to learn what causes overbites, how to identify their severity, and the available treatment options if you or your child suffers from this common yet potentially serious condition. Read on to learn is an overbite bad?
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How is an Overbite Defined?
Orthodontists and dentists often describe bite or alignment issues generally as “malocclusions.” Structural bite issues are all malocclusions, including overbites, underbites, open bites, and crossbites. Malocclusions have different degrees of severity defined by how much the teeth overlap beyond the norm and what effects that structural change is causing.
An overbite is a common malocclusion that often does not require treatment. Also known as “buck teeth,” overbites occur when your top front teeth stick out over your lower fronts more than normal. While sometimes harmless, overbites can lead to many oral health issues over time, potentially becoming more severe when the patient reaches adulthood.
Is an Overbite Bad?
Severe or uncorrected overbites can lead to many oral health challenges due to the top and bottom rows of teeth aligning incorrectly. Potential issues include:
- Painful chewing, caused by the improper distribution of forces when you bite down
- Broken or worn teeth, for the same reason as above
- Jaw pain due to improper jaw closing
- Cavities or tooth decay, caused by the loss of enamel from teeth being worn down
- Speaking difficulties due to the change in distance between the teeth and tongue
- Breathing problems due to improper jaw closing and an altered face structure
While not all overbites are bad, when left untreated, they can potentially cause many bad problems later in life. Often, the first signs of these problems include painful chewing, jaw pain that won’t go away, or speaking and breathing difficulties as described above. This is why it’s important to identify the cause of the overbite, if possible, and initiate treatment as soon as you can.
What Causes an Overbite?
Sometimes, the cause of an overbite is not known. People can inherit a jaw shape that lends to forming an overbite in the same way they can inherit other malocclusions like crooked teeth. However, some causes of overbites are preventable, resulting from habits often formed in early childhood. These include:
- Nail-biting, which can coax the upper jaw forward over time
- Teeth grinding, which can change the way the mouth closes
- Tongue-thrusting, which can push the upper jaw forward
- Thumb-sucking, which can narrow the palette and change the bite structure if continued past three years (this includes pacifiers)
Especially in developing children, these habits can cause an overbite in otherwise normal mouths, so it’s important to take notice of nervous developmental habits and stop them before they cause issues.
How are Overbites Discovered?
Often, your dentist will notice an overbite during a routine checkup, or as a result of your complaints about jaw pain or speaking difficulties. They may diagnose an overbite with an x-ray to get a clearer picture of how your teeth structurally line up.
At this point, a dentist might recommend an orthodontist to assess you or your child for potential treatments.
What Treatment Options are Available for an Overbite?
Orthodontists can offer many treatment options for an overbite, depending on the cause and severity of the problem. These treatments differ depending on whether the patient is an adult or a child.
In adults, the first line of defense against overbites is braces, which can move the teeth that are sticking out into a more neutral position. For severe cases, jaw surgery may be indicated to correct the alignment directly. Teeth can also be removed to relieve severe malocclusion.
In children, treatment can also include braces to move the teeth into a proper position. However, since children are still developing, orthodontists have other options to consider. Devices such as growth modifiers or palate expanders can be used to push the jaw out during growth spurts. Additionally, baby teeth can cause crowding that contributes to bite issues. In this case, they can be removed early to potentially curb the development of an overbite before it gets severe.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.