How to Fix an Overbite
Overbite represents a jaw and teeth deformity, where the top teeth significantly overlap the bottom. In terms of severity, orthodontists diagnose an overbite in cases where the upper jaw and teeth overlap the bottom by more than 30 %.
How Many Types of Overbites are There?
Overbites usually fall among two main types, as follow:
A vertical overbite – this type refers to a noticeable teeth overlap of the upper teeth and jaw over the bottom.
A horizontal overbite – the second type happens if there is a clear protrusion of the front teeth over the bottom teeth.
Your orthodontist is the one that determines which type of an overbite you are suffering from. Even though there are two main overbites types, a patient can easily suffer both types at the same time. When it comes to categories, overbites can belong to two, as follow:
A dental overbite – this category indicates that the teeth are responsible for the overbite occurrence.
A skeletal overbite – this category refers to an overbite caused by the jaw itself.
What Causes Overbite?
While there are various causes of overbite, the main one remains the shape and size of our teeth and jaw. This usually refers to teeth overcrowding or spacing out within the jaw. By ignoring the condition, overbite can develop further and crook your teeth even more drastically. In other cases, the jaw is too wide for the teeth and cannot function properly in return.
Both adults and children can suffer from overbites. That said, in adults, the issue has probably been ignored for years. This means that overbite mostly develops early on in your childhood, which is when it is best treated, too. Infantile reflexes and practices, like thumb sucking, excessive use of pacifiers and baby bottles, can all lead to overbite development. Even the simplest reflexes, like pushing your tongue against your upper teeth, can easily make the teeth to protrude.
Adults and teens can aggravate the condition by biting their nails and chewing too hard. In addition, an overbite can also occur as a result of broken or damaged teeth which haven’t been taken care of accordingly. Some of the other possible overbite causes include:
- The hereditary factor
- Teeth grinding
- TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
What If You Ignore an Overbite?
When you don’t have an overbite treatment plan, you are at risk of more severe dental issues. Some of these are complete teeth loss, and jaw malfunctions, like TMJ.
Among the remaining side-effects of not seeking overbite treatment include:
- Rotten teeth, cavities
- Enamel damage
- Gum irritation
- Chronic jaw pain
- Pain when eating
- Pain when opening/closing the mouth
- Jaw joint pain
- Sleep apnea
- Speech issues, lisps
Aside from the aforementioned, overbites affect your facial expressions as well. This mainly impacts your self-esteem and leads to other psychological problems. However, good news, overbites are easily treatable. Of course, the sooner you seek overbite treatment the better.
But, what treatments help fix overbite? Let’s find out.
How to Fix an Overbite?
The first thing to do when dealing with overbites is to make an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist. After a proper diagnosis, your doctor will be able to determine the best type of treatment for your case. Know that treating an overbite is better in children, therefore always seek help earlier rather than later.
In teens, overbite mostly happens due to overcrowded teeth. After doing an X-ray, your orthodontist will suggest the ideal treatment for you.
These fall among the most commonly used overbite treatment options today:
For kids and teenagers:
- Baby teeth extraction – allows permanent teeth to grow ideally
- Growth modification tool – aligns the top jaw accordingly
- Braces – using metal brackets and wires to reposition the teeth. This way, braces mostly focus on fixing the teeth, instead of the jaw.
- Retainers – a tool worn after taking your braces off, used to support the teeth and keep them steady
For adults and seniors:
- Braces – focus on repositioning the teeth
- Retainers – keep the teeth in place after taking your braces off. They also prevent teeth grinding and jaw joint pain.
- Tooth extractions – a procedure done in adults, as recommended by their dentist or orthodontist. This procedure uses the free space after extracting your teeth, to let other teeth fall into place. In addition, this helps relieve jaw tension and pain, too.
- Oral maxillofacial surgery – only done in adults jaw problems for skeletal-type overbites. Oral surgeons are the only ones who can correct overbite with this treatment.
- Invisalign – this is a tool similar to retainers and a replacement for braces. The treatment uses aligners, much alike retainers, and reposition the teeth accordingly. Patients usually wear these aligners for no less than 22 hours daily. These aligners should be changed every two weeks. Getting a new pair will help your teeth stay fixed at all times. The treatment lasts from 9 months to a year. While aligners only serve in milder forms of overbite, they can adapt the teeth and jaw easily. At times, your orthodontist will attach elastic bands to the aligners, thus having a bigger impact and effect.
Overbite Treatment With a Good Orthodontist
If you happen to have any issues with your overbite, don’t be scared to book an appointment with your orthodontist. The sooner you face the issue, the better chance you have for the braces to work in managing it.
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A lot of people may have teeth that protrude slightly, but that does not mean it was going to be classed as an overbite. To fall into this category, it will have to be a protrusion of somewhere in the region of 30% and more. While there may be some unkind words used to describe it by people who know you, the medical term for the condition is a malocclusion. Some people may be happy to live with the slight defect they have, especially as there are no problems arising from it. It will be different however, when the overbite is prominent or there is pain and problems eating. There are a couple of reasons why this condition may occur:
- There can be teeth that are crooked causing the issue, and the only thing that needs to be done is to straighten them out.
- The more serious reason will be due to the jaws and teeth not being in the correct position.
It is likely that the overbite will be caused because there is a history of overbites in the family, and this condition can be passed on in the same way that any other trait can be. When this is the case, the child will be born with the deformity and it will be known from the beginning that something has to be done about it. The issue can be corrected quickly, although there is something to say about waiting until the jaw is fully formed before carrying out the work. It will tend to depend upon the effect that the malocclusion is having on the patient.
Your orthodontist will know how to treat the overbite, once they have determined the type of overbite that you have. There are 2 different kinds, vertical overbite and horizontal overbite. The vertical overbite is defined as an overbite where the teeth in the top jaw are overlapping the bottom teeth. The other type is the horizontal overbite. With this one, the bottom teeth have to put up with the top teeth protruding over them.
Although there are two specific types of overbite, there are some people whose affliction seems to be made up of both types. Your orthodontist will also determine as to whether or not the overbite is mainly skeletal or dental in makeup. This will help them when it comes to producing a treatment plan. If they decide that it is a dental overbite, it will be because the teeth are not in the correct place. When it is a skeletal overbite, it is due to an issue with the jaw.
The majority of people suffering from an overbite, have it due either the size of the jaw or the shape of it, and sometimes the size or shape of the teeth. On some occasions it will a combination of both. It could be that there is too much room along the jaw and the teeth do not stay in place, or it could be that there is not enough room and the teeth cannot settle where they want to but must find a space, sometimes behind another one. When this is not dealt with there will be a mouth with too many teeth, or jaws that do not have enough teeth in them. Neither is ideal and will not look good.
Lifestyle and habits can be the cause of an overbite. Children tend to suck their thumbs when they are looking for comfort and this, combined with the use of a dummy/pacifier will be a problem. A bottle often must be used, but all these actions will mean that the tongue is going to be pushed against the back of the teeth and over time they will move out of place and the overbite will materialize. Just because we get older and no longer have the habits of a child, it does not mean that there is not a way we can damage our teeth. Nail biting is one and sucking or chewing on pens and pencils is another. As teeth are lost, the gap should be dealt with as this is another way that we are going to end up with an overbite. A report by the American Dental Association claims that around 70% of children in the United States suffer either from an overbite or on the way to having it.
Having set out the cause of an overbite that we have some say over, there are a couple of other things that can lead to one, and here, we are less able to control them although there will always be someone who know how to fix an overbite of this type. The first one is genetics. If your parents have an overbite, it is likely that it is going to be in your genes, and you will have one as well. Another one is teeth grinding. As this tends to happen when you are asleep, you may not know that you do it, and even if you do, there is nothing that you can do about it. Finally, there is temporomandibular joint dysfunction. This is a term given to a few conditions that lead to pain and malformation of the jaw.
As well as not looking that good, there can be a variety health issues if this is neglected. The teeth can be so badly damaged that it is not possible to fix them, and in some cases, ending up in a position where they cannot be moved. Pain is something else that has to be taken into account, and once this begins it is hard to find something to ease it. It is at this stage that you will want to understand how to fix an overbite, and all the issues that are connected to it.
Other issues include:
- Tooth decay – this will cover the entire range of decay and will include damage to the gums, cavities that will require fillings and enamel that is so damaged that it may not be possible to repair it.
- Eating issues – this can be due to pain, or the fact that the gums or teeth may not be in the correct alignment and you will be glad that you are in contact with someone who knows how to fix an overbite.
- Headaches – this is not widely known, but issues with the teeth and jaws can lead to headaches and often they will be severe.
- Breathing – it will not always be possible to open and close the mouth to the degree that you would like to.
- Speech issues – this could be one of the main reasons to want to have treatment. You can’t go through life not speaking, and if your speech is poor, it will be noticed by everyone and can be embarrassing.
- Sleep apnea – this can be as frightening as it is dangerous. You will have broken sleep, and also the slight risk of not waking.
When not corrected, it can give an unusual appearance, and this is not going to be good for anyone’s self-worth. There is the risk of bullying and later on, not being taken as seriously as peers who do not have any of these problems.
It would be unusual for a dentist to try and deal with an overbite as an orthodontist is going to be much better qualified and will fully understand how to fix an overbite. It will be a lot better if the treatment is going to take place while the patient is still a child as the result will be a lot better than if it is left until they are an adult. While the jaw and teeth are still growing, they will be more pliable and the work that is carried out will show much better results. Usually, the problem for a child is that there are either too many teeth in the mouth, or if it is the correct number of teeth, then they are too big or not in the correct location.
When not dealt with until later in life, the situation will be worse, and treatment will be harsher and may take longer. Regardless of the age of the patient, a plan of action is going to be set up. In the more severe cases, it will be necessary to sign up to around 2 years of treatment, as anything less will not have the same impact. The first thing will be x rays and because of this the orthodontist will be able to work out the type of overbite they are dealing with. At this stage, the plan will be put into action and for children can include:
- Taking out the baby teeth if there are any left. This is going to provide additional room and then when the permanent teeth start to come through they will be able to grow strong and straight.
- The use of a growth modification device. The ideal time for this will be when there is a growth spurt. When this has been done, the jaw will be better aligned and in the correct position for the teeth to come through.
- Braces – this is where an orthodontist excels as once in place, the brace will work to move the teeth into the position in the jaw where they should be. The jaw and overbite will both be improved.
- Retainers – if the braces are removed and nothing done to follow up, the teeth could move back to where they used to be. Once retainers are put in, it will reinforce the new location and keep the teeth where the brace placed them.
With adults it is a slightly different procedure when you must know how to fix an overbite, but hopefully the final results will be the same and just as effective and long term.
- Braces – the only teeth that will be affected are the ones that have to be moved to correct the overbite.
- Teeth Removal – this is only going to be done as a last resort as both dentists and orthodontists know that there can be complications. If the overbite is very severe, they will go ahead with this when there is an overbite that is extremely uncomfortable or unsightly. Once the teeth have gone, there will be more room in the mouth and this is going to let the teeth move back much more easily.
- Surgery – when all else has failed there could be the need for jaw surgery. When there is a skeletal type overbite this is likely to be the first option as the orthodontist will realize that starting with braces is futile.
When you notice that the overbite is impacting on your life, you need to make an appointment to have the issue treated. There is no way that an oral surgeon can deal with a birth deformity, but the earlier an orthodontist becomes involved, the better the outcome will be for the patient. A child should visit an orthodontist as soon as they are seven years old and from then onwards should have regular check-ups and undergo any treatment that the orthodontist suggests. With an adult, the checkup visits should be once a year so that when the problem starts to arise, there is time to deal with it before it gets too bad. Today, more and more adults are looking to fix overbite with braces.
As there can be severe issues arising from not treating the problem, you should seek the services who will know how to fix an overbite as soon as you can. The main thing to remember is that there is no need to worry as there will be someone out there who has the facilities and they know how when it comes to fixing the overbite. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and unless there are serious complications, you should have the perfect look within two years at the most.
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