An overbite is commonly referred to as “buck teeth”. It means that your front teeth on the top are too far in front of your bottom teeth. While a minor overbite is a common condition, severe overbites can cause many problems if left untreated, including tooth decay and jaw pain.
If you have young children, you may wonder how overbites form. If you suspect you or your child already has one, you may wonder what treatment options are available. Continue reading to learn about overbites, including what can cause them and how to treat them.
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Causes and Types of Overbites
Overbites can have several causes, some of which are due to genetics and others which are due to habits. These are classified as “skeletal overbites” and “dental overbites,” respectively.
Skeletal Overbite – A skeletal overbite occurs when a child’s teeth or jaw have a size discrepancy that causes misalignment. For example, if a child’s mouth is too large compared to the teeth, or the teeth are too large compared to the jaw, teeth can not only become crowded and crooked, but an overbite can form as well.
On a side note, an overbite can also be caused by trauma that knocks out baby teeth too soon. If not addressed by an orthodontist, adult teeth can come in incorrectly and result in a misalignment that can lead to an overbite.
Dental Overbite – A dental overbite occurs because of habits sustained in childhood. Any action that causes a child to repetitively push their tongue against the back of their front teeth can eventually lead to an overbite. As the child develops, this frequent pressure can cause the teeth to grow outward.
Habits that can cause a dental overbite or worsen a skeletal overbite include:
- Prolonged pacifier and bottle use
- Thumb- or finger-sucking (especially after age 3)
- Nail-biting or chewing on hard objects like pencils or tongue depressors for prolonged periods
- Sleep apnea in childhood, which causes irregular breathing that can contribute to unhealthy mouth movements
- Grinding your teeth at any age
Conditions that Can Result from an Overbite
If left untreated, an overbite can be more than a cosmetic inconvenience. Over time, misaligned teeth or jaws can cause many oral health issues, including:
- Gum disease and tooth decay
- Jaw pain while chewing
- Breathing conditions and speech problems
Consequently, these conditions, along with any difficulties opening or closing your mouth, are the main symptoms of an overbite.
Overbites can also be accompanied by crooked, misaligned, or crowded teeth, which come with their own set of issues. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. They can also gradually cause other structural issues, such as broken teeth and jaw pain, due to the uneven distribution of force when you bite or talk.
Treatment Options for Overbite
Thankfully, there are several treatment options available for an overbite. The most prevalent is braces, which orthodontists use to gradually move teeth into the correct alignment, fixing the overbite. Today, you can even get partial braces so that only the affected teeth receive treatment, which is easier for both doctors and patients.
Other treatments for an overbite include:
- Retainers that gradually correct minor alignment issues
- Extracting baby teeth or adult teeth to make enough space for the remaining teeth to move into their proper positions
- GMDs or growth modification devices, which include palate expanders, and are sometimes used during a growth spurt to correct jaw alignment
- Oral surgery, potentially indicated in adult patients with a severe overbite
How to Prevent an Overbite
If you’re concerned about developing or worsening an overbite, there are several things you can do while you assess your treatment options.
Firstly, once your children pass infancy, you should encourage them to stop sucking their thumbs, using sippy cups, and relying on pacifiers. A visit to a dentist and orthodontist around the time they turn 1 can save a lot of time and money later.
If you’re an adult, you can use a night guard to prevent teeth-grinding and to stop your tongue from thrusting your front teeth. Since overbites can be caused by trauma, maintaining a healthy oral regime and using a mouthguard when playing sports can give you extra protection against forming an overbite.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces for yourself or your child, 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.Schedule Appointment