OVERBITE BRACES AND HOW THEY CAN HELP
Even as a child, it is possible to be upset to know that you have a pronounced overbite. It can make you a target for other children who will latch on to anything if they see it as a weakness. As well as not looking right, there can be issues when you eat and with speech. Whatever the problems for you are, you are bound to want to get help with your overbite. As would be expected, a lot of people are self-conscious about their overbites and even if they joke about it, they would be much happier if they were able to have it fixed. It can be a very painful condition and that is what other people do not understand. If the lower front teeth are far enough under the top set, they can damage the roof of the mouth.
It is a very common condition and while you may not be aware of people in your circle of friends or a family who have one, it is often the case that people just get used to the way someone looks and do not see the problems. When the overbite is small, it can be considered normal and that the child will no longer have it when their adult teeth come through, or their jaws grow. The reality is that it is very unlikely to improve on its own and there is going to need to be treatment at some stage.
Surgery is often the only realistic option for some children, but that is never going to be a parent’s first choice. Luckily, many can have their overbite dealt with without the need of surgery. It will not be possible for an orthodontist to give much advice without a consultation taking place, so you should be prepared to make a visit where you will find out what will happen in the future. This visit is going to be the opportunity for the dentist to make their decisions and for you to ask anything that you are concerned about.
It is more than likely that the outcome will be overbite braces rather than surgery, and while this is going to be the preferred option for some, it should not be seen as the easy option. It will be less painful than surgery, but that is not to say that there will not be some pain. Most orthodontists will prefer braces as this gives them complete control over what is going to happen. When they hand you over to a surgeon, they can no longer make the decisions. It will also be best for the patient as there will always be a risk with any surgery that requires you to be anaesthetized.
Why do some people have an overbite?
Firstly, it is important to understand what an overbite is. It is a form of malocclusion, meaning that the teeth are not set in the correct place in the mouth. In some cases, there is no reason other than the fact that it is a family trait – Charles II of Spain was the perfect example of how an on-going hereditary issue can suddenly be so severe in one person.
If the issue is not hereditary, then it will normally be due the jaw not growing in the correct way during the formative years. It can often be due to habits that the child gets into such as sucking their thumb or spending too long drinking out of a bottle. These activities will not always result in this condition but will often be the cause. Even once we are grown up, we can do things that will lead us to getting an overbite. It is clearly not just something that happens early in life. It tends to be putting things in the mouth that should not go there including:
- Ice – if it is put in a drink it should be left to melt or thrown away at the end. Overbite braces will fix the problem, but it would be better if the stayed the way they were.
- Pens and pencils – it is easy to do when thinking but should be stopped before it becomes too much of a habit.
- Trying to open things with the mouth. The teeth were not designed for that sort of punishment and should not be used in that way.
Even smoking cigars can be an issue, as more often than not, the smoker will bite down on it to keep it in the mouth.
Rectifying a child’s overbite
There is some good news when it comes to an overbite in a child. This is the best age to deal with it, and if it is caught early enough, treatment can be easy and not cause the child too much stress and pain. The reason for this is the fact that the jaw has not reached maturity and is not yet fully formed. The treatment time will depend upon the severity of the overbite, with the least noticeable the easiest to treat. The range tends to go from very mild, whereby the upper teeth are set only a little bit further forward than the lower ones, along to the most severe type of overbite called a retrognathic.
The decision the orthodontist makes will depend upon how bad the overbite is and how much pain or discomfort may be caused by it. There will be a few tests carried out and this will be the basis for the decision. The x-ray will be first and after that the teeth impressions. The x-ray is fine, and few people have any issues with this, but the same cannot be said when it comes to the impressions.
Having impressions taken
The orthodontist will take two metal plates and fill them with a thick substance. One will be placed over the palette and top teeth, while the other will go over the bottom set of teeth. After a few minutes, the substance will start to harden and can be removed. It is while the substance is in the mouth that it is difficult part is endured as breathing through the mouth is not possible. It can be unnerving and does cause a few people a little stress even though it is a perfectly safe action. Ones the orthodontist has both of these pieces of information about the set out of the teeth and jaws, then the treatment can begin.
If it is determined that the overbite is not too severe then run of the mill metal braces can be used. They will be the same sort of braces that all the other children will have, so there is no need for the child to feel self-conscious or distressed about them. It would be easy to make this treatment seem to be straight forward, but there is the need to involve the orthodontist rather than just your dentist as they will have the expert knowledge and should be the person left to make the final decision of what is the best solution.
Correcting an adults overbite
As you would expect it is going to be harder to correct the overbite of an adult. The reason for this is that the jaws have formed fully and are going to be less easy to manipulate. This does not mean that there is nothing that can be done, just that it may take a little longer and require a little more complex form of treatment. The normal metal braces that can be used on a child could be used here as they are strong enough to have real impact. The good news is that it is not going to mean having the overbite braces on forever, the results once they are removed can be astonishing. Even if metal braces are suitable, you may not want everyone to see that you are wearing braces, so you could go for white color ceramic braces (adult braces) or the clear aligners (Invisalign braces).
Invisalign braces are ideal for people who do not want others to know that they are wearing braces. They are clear, so others will have to look hard to notice that they are there. There are a few other advantages to wearing them, including:
- Removal is possible. This means that when you are eating you will be able to remove them. This means that they will be a lot easy to clean as there will not be any food attached to them.
- They can be left out for a special occasion although this should be as a last resort.
- This can be a quick and effective treatment. It usually takes about 8 – 12 months for treatment to be complete, although this will clearly be longer if there is a large overbite to deal with.
- You will need to make fewer visits to the orthodontists. Rather than just having one brace fitted and needing to return to have alterations made, you will be given a couple at a time, and can change them when the required improvement is seen.
It is likely that the cost will be higher, but for many the extra cost is going to be worth it for the benefits attached.
Tightening the overbite braces
If you have decided to go for metal braces, there are going to be times when they must be tightened. Each tightening may not be ideal, but it will indicate that you are a step closer to having perfectly straight teeth. It is going to be done every 6 – 8 weeks and this will require a visit to the orthodontist, so these meetings will have to be scheduled into your budget. They will only take about 15 minutes each, but, are a very important part of the process. It could be that it is just the elastics that will have to be replaced, but on a couple of the visits, the wires are going to have to be replaced as well. It is more than likely going to be children who have colored bands, and if they do, the colors can be changed during a visit.
There is a slight downside as the teeth might feel a little sore for a while, but this should be confidence filler, as it means that the teeth are moving, and the treatment is working. At this stage, you should be given regular updates as to what is happening and how much longer there is to wait. As changes happen, it is easier to give timescales than it is when the process is starting.
Eventually, the day you are waiting for will arrive. Your teeth should be straight, and the orthodontist is going to remove the overbite braces. You will have some say in this, as there can be the option to leave them a little longer if you would like slightly more movement. Your orthodontist will advise you as to whether this is the right thing to do, as you don’t want to move the teeth too far in the opposite direction.
This appointment is not going to take very long but will be very important. It is not going to take long to remove the braces, as the bands and brackets will click off fairly easily. The mouth will feel a little strange for a while and the first couple of times you try to speak may be a problem. In the same way that you had to get used to talking and eating with the brace when it was first fitted, you will have to get used to it not being there.
The final stage is going to be retainers to keep the teeth in the position that they are now set. That will not happen at the same time, but you will receive an appointment to be fitted for them. By now you will be glad you agreed to get overbite braces. You will understand that it is not the worst procedure to go through and should be able to reassure your children if it turns out that they have the same condition that needs treating.