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What is an Overbite and How Can it Be Fixed?

Posted on September 28, 2020

According to the American Dental Association, almost 70% of children display signs of developing an overbite. Because these abnormal bites become noticeable between the ages of six and 12, orthodontic treatment is usually started between the ages of eight and 14 to ensure the problems can be quickly corrected.

What Exactly is an Overbite?

Known clinically as a type of malocclusion, overbites are a deviation from the normal alignment of your teeth, specifically when the upper teeth protrude too far over the lower. For small children, thumb sucking, overuse of bottles, and frequent pacify use can contribute to the formation of an overbite. Similarly, in teens and young adults, nail-biting or chewing on objects such as pencils can cause an overbite to form.

If left untreated, overbites can go on to cause significant complications such as jaw pain, headaches, pain while eating, tooth decay, and temporomandibular joint disorders. For this reason, many orthodontic practices will recommend starting treatment as soon as possible, to prevent the overbite from growing too severe.

How is an Overbite Treated?

Usually your dentist will refer you to an orthodontic practice for evaluation and treatment. If caught early as a child, this problem will be easier to treat due to the jaw still developing.

However, whether you are a child or an adult, an orthodontic specialist will begin by assessing the severity of the overbite and creating a treatment plan based on your unique case. X-rays of the mouth can help determine the exact type of overbite, as well as the relationship between your jaw and teeth. This allows orthodontists to determine which course of action is best. For children and teens, an orthodontic practice may recommend removing baby teeth too make room for the permanent teeth to grow in straighter or metal braces to help slowly move the teeth to correct the overbite and jaw position. Retainers may also be recommended to help keep the teeth in place once the braces are removed.

In adults, braces or clear aligners are used to help correct the problem, although clear aligners are often only used in mild cases. In some cases, an orthodontist may even remove teeth to help the teeth move more easily. However, most will only recommend this course of action in very severe cases, and often it is avoided unless absolutely necessary. If you have developed an overbite, or if your dentist has recommended seeking treatment for a developing one, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with your local orthodontic practice.

Regardless of age, the best way to prevent the problem from getting worse is to seek treatment as soon as possible. Not only will it make your mouth more comfortable, but it can help you achieve a smile you can truly be proud of.