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What is an overbite?

Overbite – or retrognathism – occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much.

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Written by NoFrills Dental

This dental article has been curated by the clinical team @ NoFrills Dental 🙂

January 12, 2022

Understanding ‘Overbite’

Your bite is the way your upper and lower teeth fit together. The upper teeth should sit slightly forward of the lower teeth, but few people have a perfect bite. 

Overbite – or retrognathism – occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much. Overlap of a couple of millimetres is regarded as normal but when it’s more than four millimetres it may require professional medical attention to avoid complications.

What Causes An Overbite?

An overbite can develop in children and adults alike.

Various factors can contribute to the problem, such as:

  • Crowded teeth.
  • Missing teeth when the resulting gap causes adjacent teeth to shift. 
  • Childhood habits such as thumb-sucking.
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism).
  • TMD – temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
  • Genetics – a poorly developed lower jaw.

Types of Overbites

There are two types of overbites:

  • Dental overbite is caused by the misalignment of teeth (malocclusion).
  • Skeletal overbite resulting from irregular jaw bone development.

Sometimes, an overbite is a combination of dental and skeletal factors.

woman suffering from implant allergy

Problems Caused By Overbite

Without treatment, an abnormal overbite can result in multiple problems.

Overbite complications include:

  • Excessive wear on dental enamel.
  • Damage to gums or tongue.

These issues can arise as the misaligned teeth scrape against each other and/or you inadvertently bite into soft tissue of the mouth.

  • Tooth decay and gum disease. These problems develop because misaligned teeth create nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean, leading to a build-up of plaque.
  • Problems speaking. An overbite tends to make you use your tongue more when you speak. This affects speech clarity and, in some cases, can cause a lisp.
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth properly.
  • Snoring.
  • Sleep apnoea – repeated pauses in breathing as you sleep.

Other, painful symptoms of an overbite include:

  • Headaches.
  • Earache.
  • Jaw pain.

An overbite can also significantly alter facial structure, resulting in low self-esteem through embarrassment about appearance.

Braces lady holding phone to her face taking selfie | Braces treatment in singapore

Diagnosing An Overbite

Getting a professional diagnosis is the only way to tell for sure whether you have an overbite you should be concerned about. However, you can try the following overbite self-diagnosis method at home.

In front of a mirror, move your teeth together naturally while relaxing your jaw. Smile to reveal your teeth and check whether:

  • Your upper front teeth cover more than a quarter of your lower front teeth.
  • Your upper front teeth touch your lower gum.
  • Your lower teeth are biting close to or touching the roof of your mouth.

If any of the above applies to you, it’s a good idea to see your dentist for a definitive diagnosis.

OverbiteOverjet

Overbite Vs Overjet

An overbite can be confused with an overjet. This is understandable because they often occur together. Nevertheless, they have different physical characteristics.

An abnormal overbite refers to a vertical overlap when upper front teeth significantly cover lower front teeth. 

With an overjet, upper teeth protrude at an angle out and over the lower teeth, and the upper teeth may extend to or past the lower lip.

How Are Overbites Fixed?

Overbites can be corrected with surgical or non-surgical treatments. If you think you have an excessive overbite, it’s important to speak to your dentist to learn more about treatment options so you can make an informed decision.

initial dental implant consultation

Braces to Correct an Overbite

Traditional metal or ceramic braces are the standard therapy for correcting overbite, overjet, crowded or crooked teeth, or a misaligned jaw.

Braces treatment to fix an overbite in children and teens is generally easier because their jaw is still growing. The issue here is usually crowded teeth. Adults often have more severe overbite symptoms through lack of preventive dental therapy when younger.

Your dentist will take X-rays to determine the relationship between the teeth and jaw. Braces are then attached to the upper and lower arches of the teeth. The brackets and wires of the braces gradually reposition teeth to correct the overbite problem.

Treatment typically takes between 18 to 24 months, depending on the complexity of the problem.

dental bone grafting required before dental implant placement due to bone loss in the jaw

Invisalign to Fix an Overbite

Invisalign can correct minor to moderate cases of overbite and overjet. These plastic aligners avoid the need for wires or brackets and are practically invisible in the mouth.

Invisalign uses the same orthodontic principles as braces but moves teeth with the help of advanced technology. While fixed braces are attached to your teeth throughout treatment.

Invisalign aligners are removable but need to be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day for optimum results.

dental implant placement process

Jaw Surgery to Fix Overbite

Braces may not be enough to correct a skeletal overbite or more severe dental overbites. In these cases, jaw surgery – also known as orthognathic surgery – is necessary.

Jaw surgery resolves jaw bone irregularities and realigns the jaw and teeth to improve function. This can also enhance facial appearance.

Orthognathic surgery can be used to move the upper jaw (maxilla) and rotate the lower jaw (mandible) to ensure symmetry.

The procedure entails making incisions in the jaw bone to facilitate repositioning and proper alignment. The jaw is then secured into its new position with plates and screws.

Treatment is usually completed in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

initial dental implant consultation

Braces to Correct an Overbite

Traditional metal or ceramic braces are the standard therapy for correcting overbite, overjet, crowded or crooked teeth, or a misaligned jaw.

Braces treatment to fix an overbite in children and teens is generally easier because their jaw is still growing. The issue here is usually crowded teeth. Adults often have more severe overbite symptoms through lack of preventive dental therapy when younger.

Your dentist will take X-rays to determine the relationship between the teeth and jaw. Braces are then attached to the upper and lower arches of the teeth. The brackets and wires of the braces gradually reposition teeth to correct the overbite problem.

Treatment typically takes between 18 to 24 months, depending on the complexity of the problem.

dental bone grafting required before dental implant placement due to bone loss in the jaw

Invisalign to Fix an Overbite

Invisalign can correct minor to moderate cases of overbite and overjet. These plastic aligners avoid the need for wires or brackets and are practically invisible in the mouth.

Invisalign uses the same orthodontic principles as braces but moves teeth with the help of advanced technology. While fixed braces are attached to your teeth throughout treatment.

Invisalign aligners are removable but need to be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day for optimum results.

dental implant placement process

Jaw Surgery to Fix Overbite

Braces may not be enough to correct a skeletal overbite or more severe dental overbites. In these cases, jaw surgery – also known as orthognathic surgery – is necessary.

Jaw surgery resolves jaw bone irregularities and realigns the jaw and teeth to improve function. This can also enhance facial appearance.

Orthognathic surgery can be used to move the upper jaw (maxilla) and rotate the lower jaw (mandible) to ensure symmetry.

The procedure entails making incisions in the jaw bone to facilitate repositioning and proper alignment. The jaw is then secured into its new position with plates and screws.

Treatment is usually completed in conjunction with orthodontic therapy.

dentist showing thumbs up

Why You Need Early Treatment For Overbite?

Overbite is a prevalent dental problem, and orthodontic treatment by a dentist can fix most overbites without the need for surgery. 

Traditional braces are the most commonly used therapy for overbite, while removable Invisalign clear plastic aligners provide a more aesthetic and more convenient treatment in less serious cases.

Without treatment, overbite gets worse over time and can cause further complications such as dental pain and headaches. This is why it’s best to get orthodontic treatment for an overbite as soon as possible. Early treatment will be faster, less costly, and require less intervention.

Overbite Orthodontic Treatment at NoFrills Dental

Braces or Invisalign treatment by NoFrills Dental can resolve minor to complex cases of overbite, with benefits such as:

  • Improved appearance and self-confidence.
  • Improved oral health.
  • Less risk of physical damage to teeth.
  • Improved speech.
  • Improved digestion.

Contact us to find out more about orthodontic treatment to fix an overbite.

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