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What is an Overbite and How is It Corrected?

person wearing silver diamond ringAn overbite refers to a gap or overlap between the top and bottom front teeth. It is not uncommon for upper teeth to sit too far in front of or over the lower teeth, which can lead to overbite issues. The good news is that dental professionals have spent decades learning how to correct this, and overbite correction has become one of the most common reasons for people to get braces and other treatment options.

What is an Overbite?

An overbite is a horizontal gap or vertical overlap between the top and bottom front teeth. An open bite refers to when there is a vertical gap between the top and bottom teeth, while a horizontal overbite or overjet will cause the top teeth to protrude at the front of the mouth, which might be slight or pronounced. It is considered normal to have a vertical overlap of around 2-4mm, which covers around 30% of the lower teeth. When the teeth overlap by 4-6mm or more, this is known as a deep overbite. With a very severe overbite, the lower teeth may be completely covered by the upper jaw, which may even dig into the gums. Overbites can be either horizontal or vertical, with the top teeth protruding at the front and hanging too far down over the bottom front teeth.

What Causes an Overbite?

There are several different factors that might lead to somebody developing this dental problem. Genetics are a top cause, but there are some environmental factors that can lead to an overbite including the jaw not properly forming in utero, thumb sucking in children, tongue thrusting, overuse of a dummy or bottle as a baby, nail biting, and chewing on things like pens and pencils excessively.

Different Overbite Types

The two overbite types are dental overbites and skeletal overbites. A dental overbite is the result of issues with the baby or adult teeth coming through such as overcrowding, or when there is pressure put on the teeth, for example, from thumb sucking as a child or overusing a dummy. On the other hand, a skeletal overbite is either the result of genetics or irregularities in the development of the jawbone.

Why Fixing an Overbite is a Good Idea

If you have an overbite, you might be wondering if it’s a good idea to get treatment for it. A consultation with a dentist or orthodontist will be able to help you figure out if your overbite is normal, deep, or severe. There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to have treatment to fix an overbite, since untreated overbite issues can lead to facial pain, poor dental hygiene, teeth wearing down quickly, poor facial structure, speech issues, and more. If you are considering overbite treatment for your child, it’s worth bearing in mind that in most cases, the younger the child is when the treatment takes place, the better. In adults, treating an overbite can be more difficult since the tooth roots and jawbones will be developed more firmly.

How an Overbite is Fixed

The first thing to bear in mind is that it is normal to have an overbite of around 2-4mm, so there may not always be a reason to worry if your upper teeth slightly cover your bottom teeth. However, if the overbite is any larger, there are several different treatment options to consider. Treatment plans tend to vary depending on the severity of the overbite and what had caused it.

Overbite Braces

Most commonly, an overbite will be corrected using braces. Along with treating the overbite, this can also fix any misalignment problems and straighten the teeth. As long as a retainer is worn after the braces treatment has been completed, the results should last for the rest of your life. In most cases, overbite treatment with braces lasts between one and two years but can sometimes last longer depending on the severity of the problem.

Clear Aligners

Another option to consider is overbite correction with AlignerCo using clear aligners. More and more adults are opting for clear aligners to fix an overbite and tooth misalignment problems since this treatment is more comfortable than fixed metal braces, the aligners are removeable for eating and dental hygiene, and you may find that it works faster for correcting an overbite in some cases. ALIGNERCO offer aligners that you can wear either in the daytime or just at nighttime, and these braces are almost invisible, applying pressure to the teeth to move them into a better position, which can transform a deep overbite to a normal one.

Overbite Surgery

If you have an overbite that has been caused by skeletal issues such as underdevelopment of the jaw, this will usually require jaw surgery. If the lower jaw has not correctly developed, surgery can help to improve the shape of the jaw, which should fix the overbite along with slightly changing your facial appearance. Overbite treatment will usually involve either removing some teeth, inserting screws, repositioning the jaw, or adding plates around the jaw. There is no need to worry about scarring since all the work to fix an overbite using jaw surgery will be done inside the mouth. If you need to get overbite surgery, you can expect to have to stay in hospital overnight after surgery and take time off work for between two and four weeks. You may also have additional orthodontic work such as fixed braces or clear aligners before and after the surgery.

Can You Fix an Overbite Naturally?

Unfortunately, there is no way to fix an overbite without treatment and the problem does not go away on its own. If you have an overbite, the only ways to correct it are braces, clear aligners, or overbite surgery. Consult your dentist if you have a deep or severe overbite and want to know how you can fix it.

How to Prevent an Overbite?

While some overbites cannot be prevented as they a result of factors out of our control, such as genetics or jaw development problems, you may be glad to hear that there are some things that you can do to help prevent an overbite developing in children. As mentioned, thumb sucking, chewing on pencils or pens, or overusing dummies in babies and young children can all lead to an overbite developing, so if you are a parent, these are some good places to start when it comes to helping prevent an overbite in your child.

Is My Overbite Normal?

In some cases, you might have a slight overbite that is nothing to worry about. In fact, most people have upper teeth that sit in front of the lower teeth a little bit. When your front teeth sit at around 2-4mm in front of the lower teeth or are overhanging them slightly, this is considered to be normal, and you probably won’t need treatment to correct it. Research suggests that the average normal overbite is around 2.9mm. Correction is typically recommended for overbites that are more than 4mm.

An overbite occurs when your front upper teeth overlap or overhang your front lower teeth. While it might be something that you have gotten used to, treatment is recommended since it can lead to further dental issues.