An overbite is a misalignment of the teeth, or malocclusion so that the upper front teeth protrude out beyond the lower teeth. While a small overbite is necessary for a proper bite, it shouldn’t overlap too far. A snug fit between the upper teeth and the lower teeth is best. It is typically just 1 to 2mm. A deep gap is one that is 4 to 8mm and a gap 9mm or more is severe. It is your family dentist who identifies problems before they progress at bi-annual appointments.
There are two types of overbites, skeletal and dental. Sometimes there is a combination of both of these. A skeletal overbite involves irregular development of the jawbone and improper jaw growth. A dental overbite is caused by external interruption of normal dental development such as crowding or bad dental habits.
An impinging overbite is the most severe. The lower teeth actually touch the palate behind the upper teeth whenever the mouth is closed. The palate is the roof of the mouth that separates the nasal cavity and the mouth. This touching slowly damages the bone surrounding the upper teeth. This can cause trauma to the teeth and in extreme cases, tooth loss.
A minor overbite likely does not cause any other health issues beyond appearance. Uncorrected extreme overbites lead to some health issues. There could be breathing challenges, especially during sleep. It may even contribute to sleep disorders. The condition could cause pain and difficulty in chewing or even in the jaw. It could possibly lead to TMJ, temporomandibular disorders. TMJ can come with lock jaw, migraines, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Speech problems are another concern. Finally, if left uncorrected tooth decay and cavities tend to crop up more. In addition, gum disease is more common.
Overbite is sometimes hereditary and runs in families based on genetic traits. Jaw shape impacts the alignment of the teeth. Overcrowding of teeth is another cause. Teeth jostle for position and get pushed forward. Thumb sucking or pacifiers past the age of 3 leads to issues. Newer sippy cups with spill-proof valves involve the same sucking action and cause overbite as well. Nail biting, chewing on pencils, or other chewing of items that are not food is another possible cause of overbite. Teeth grinding is another factor leading to overbites. In addition, a tongue thrust sometimes ends up causing an overbite as well.
Overbite is a common dental condition. An overbite is noticeable and seen just when looking at a patient. If it is not obvious, a dental exam confirms any suspicions. A dentist takes dental x-rays to further examine the overbite and the complete alignment of the teeth.
Living with an Overbite
If you have an overbite, help keep your mouth healthy and avoid some problems. It is always important to practice excellent oral hygiene. It is even more important with an issue like an overbite. If you tend to have a tongue thrust or grind your teeth in your sleep, a mouth guard at night helps. A mouth guard during sports is always beneficial. Finally, be sure that you have regular dental checkups.
There are those who suggest that an overbite, especially in young children, corrects itself over time as the child grows. The truth is it will not. In fact, if an overbite is left untreated in a growing child, it likely gets worse over time and requires more invasive treatment. Overbite is also easier to treat in children than in adults, so the earlier the intervention, the better.
There is a wide variety of overbites, with different complexities in treatment. Each condition is unique, and a dentist designs a unique treatment plan for each specific patient. Some conditions require a dentist to refer a patient to an orthodontist to correct an overbite and adjust jaw alignment.
Age Makes a Difference
The age of the patient makes a difference in treatment. Children with overbite are easily treatable. They are still growing. The teeth are already moving and the roots are not firmly set. Overbite in children usually involves growth modification devices such as retainers, headgear, or palette expanders. The removal of baby teeth or even some permanent teeth makes room for adult teeth to come in properly. After braces, a patient typically wears a retainer to maintain alignment.
Orthodontics or removing teeth in adults is not uncommon. Adults with jaw issues may have surgery to reset the jaw. This serious intervention is necessary for those with severe skeletal overbites because the teeth, roots, and bones are more difficult to move.
Most treatment is successful without surgery, even for adults. Come see us at Danville Family Dentistry and let us assess your bite and offer advice for correction. Contact us today!
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.