An overbite is more than just a cosmetic concern. An untreated overbite can lead to a slew of dental and health issues down the line. So what causes it, and more importantly, how can you fix an overbite? Stick around as we dive into this commonly misunderstood dental condition.
What is an Overbite?
An overbite is when your upper teeth in the front overlap significantly with your lower front teeth. You may have heard this referred to as “buck teeth.” This isn’t just a matter of aesthetics; it’s a dental condition that can be caused by a variety of factors like genetics, thumb-sucking during childhood, or even tongue thrusting.
Overbite With Baby Teeth
An overbite can occur in both baby teeth and permanent teeth. When it shows up in baby teeth, it’s often seen as less concerning initially, since these teeth are going to fall out anyway. However, an overbite in baby teeth can be a predictor for what’s to come with the permanent teeth. If the issue originates from jaw alignment or behavioral habits like thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting, it’s quite possible that the overbite will persist when the permanent teeth come in. Addressing these issues early on can help guide the permanent teeth into a better alignment, potentially making future treatment simpler or even unnecessary.
Overbite With Permanent Teeth
When an overbite is present in permanent teeth, it’s often a more immediate concern due to the long-term health implications. Misaligned permanent teeth are more susceptible to wear and tear, gum disease, and decay, as previously discussed. Additionally, unlike baby teeth, permanent teeth are, well, permanent. If they are misaligned, the only way to correct that is through orthodontic treatment or, in severe cases, surgery.
What Dental Issues Can an Overbite Cause?
Beyond the unappealing look, an overbite can also cause serious problems for your overall health. Here are some problems you could face:
- Difficulty in Chewing: Misaligned teeth can make it tough to chew your food properly.
- Speech Issues: An overbite can cause lisps or other speech impediments.
- Gum Irritation: The sharp lower teeth can dig into the upper gums, leading to gum problems.
- Increased Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease: Misalignment of the teeth increases the chances of food particles getting stuck between them, providing a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to gum damage and periodontal disease.
- Jaw pain: The misalignment forces the jaw muscles to work harder to bring the teeth together, and over time, this can result in chronic jaw pain.
- Wear and Tear: Because the teeth are not meeting each other in a natural way, it may cause teeth grinding and the tooth enamel will begin to degrade. Over time, this could even result in tooth loss.
When to See a Dentist
If you think you have an overbite, it’s not something you should ignore. A regular dental check-up will let you know where you stand. Dental X-rays and other diagnostics can offer a clearer picture, helping your dentist or oral surgeon recommend the right treatment options for you.
How Do You Fix an Overbite?
There are several treatment options when it comes to fixing an overbite. The best treatment plan will depend on the individual’s condition and their unique needs. The traditional go-to method is braces, which involves metal brackets that are adhered to your teeth and linked by wires and tiny rubber bands.
Braces work by applying a gentle, consistent pressure to slowly move your teeth into the right position. They’re a highly effective and often less expensive route for correcting even severe overbites. However, they do come with a couple of downsides. They’re quite noticeable, which could be a drawback if you’re concerned about how you look with a mouthful of metal. Additionally, they can be uncomfortable due to the wires and brackets, which can cause irritation inside the mouth.
Invisalign is a more discreet alternative that uses clear, plastic aligners to incrementally adjust your teeth into the correct position. You switch to a new set of aligners every few weeks as your teeth slowly shift. While Invisalign is almost invisible and generally more comfortable than traditional braces, it can be more expensive. Also, it may not be the best option for severe cases of a bad bite, as its effectiveness can be limited.
Last but not least, there’s orthognathic surgery, reserved cases of excessive overbite that can’t be sufficiently corrected by either braces or Invisalign. This surgical option involves repositioning the jaw bones and generally requires a follow-up period of orthodontic treatment.
Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene With a Bite Malocclusion
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for everyone, but it’s particularly important if you’re dealing with an overbite. An overbite often complicates your dental care routine because misaligned teeth can create hard-to-reach pockets where food particles and bacteria can accumulate. To ensure that your overbite doesn’t lead to other dental health issues, here are some tips to maintain good hygiene.
Brush Your Teeth Thoroughly and Carefully
A standard toothbrush might not get the job done effectively if you have an overbite. An electric toothbrush with a rotating head can make it easier to navigate those hard-to-reach areas. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, focusing on all surfaces of your lower and upper teeth, and make sure to brush your tongue and roof of your mouth as well.
Don’t Forget to Floss Daily
Flossing is another crucial step that can’t be overlooked. If your overbite makes flossing difficult, consider using a water flosser. These devices shoot a high-pressure water stream between your teeth, dislodging any trapped food particles or plaque. It’s a particularly good option for those who find traditional flossing uncomfortable or ineffective.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Regular check-ups with a dental professional are vital, of course. Your dentist can provide a more thorough cleaning and check for signs of other issues like gum disease or tooth decay that might be exacerbated by an overbite. They can also make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed.
Contact Us For Treatment of Overbites and Other Types of Malocclusions
Aat Sunrise Emergency and Family Dentistry. We’re experts in diagnosing and treating various forms of misaligned teeth and jaws. From the initial consultation to a tailor-made treatment plan, we ensure you receive comprehensive, empathetic care every step of the way.
Don’t let an overbite or any other dental issue keep you from smiling with confidence. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.