How Do You Fix an Overbite?

You probably already know that braces straighten your teeth, but you may not realize that they, along with several other methods, can also fix overbites. Rollins & Peterson Orthodontics in Mesa, AZ use braces, Invisalign, and other orthodontic treatments to correct overbites and give you the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

How Do You Fix Overbites?

Braces

Traditional braces are the most common way to fix an overbite. They work by first straightening and aligning your teeth, then by using elastic bands attached to the brackets to slowly move the jaw into the correct position. This method of correcting an overbite is slower than others, with severe overbites taking a minimum of two years to correct. You’ll also need to wear a retainer once your bite has been corrected to make sure it stays in the right position.

The main advantage of using braces and elastic bands to fix overbites is that most patients’ conditions can be corrected through this treatment. Some conditions cannot be treated with Invisalign, but braces have been used for decades to correct patients’ bites, from mild to severe. Additionally, you can get clear ceramic braces if you’re concerned about the visibility of metal braces. Moreover, braces are usually cheaper than Invisalign, but you do have to watch what you eat.

Invisalign

This type of teeth straightening technique is an alternative to traditional braces and uses sets of clear aligners to gradually shift your teeth and jaw into the proper position. This is an excellent option for teens and adults who don’t like the way they look with traditional metal braces. Invisalign is usually somewhat more expensive than braces, but can often correct a minor overbite more quickly. Depending on your dental conditions, you may not be a candidate for Invisalign.

There are several benefits of Invisalign over braces, but the most popular benefit is that Invisalign is not as noticeable as metal braces. You’re also able to eat whatever you want because you remove your aligners before you eat or drink anything but water. To achieve full results using Invisalign, you have to wear your aligners for between 20 and 22 hours per day, which can sometimes be a challenge for teenagers (and even some adults).

Surgery

In extreme situations, some patients with overbites may require orthodontic surgery to correct their condition. This procedure is mostly reserved for adults who have a misaligned jawbone. This type of overbite, which is usually deemed too severe to be corrected through braces, can be a problem both cosmetically and in terms of functionality. You may still need braces to correct tooth alignment and straightening even after undergoing jaw surgery, so it’s ideal to correct your overbite without surgery if possible.

While overbite correction can be performed on patients of any age, surgery is sometimes more necessary for adults because their jaws are more difficult to shift. Teenagers with overbites can more often be treated with braces or Invisalign without the additional need for surgery. However, your exact treatment plan cannot be determined until we see you in person and examine your condition. Even as an adult, you may not require surgery to fix an overbite.

If surgery is deemed to be the best course of action, we will access your jawbone through incisions made during surgery. We will reposition your jawbone to its proper alignment. Then, we will secure it into position with plates and screws. We may add more bone to your jaw to achieve the proper alignment. If bone is added to your jaw, we will secure it in place temporarily with wire. Again, you may still require braces or Invisalign following surgery.

Tooth Extraction

Sometimes, an overbite is caused by the overcrowding of teeth. We can get your overbite corrected by removing one or more teeth to allow the remaining teeth to move into their natural position. When the teeth begin to correct themselves, the jaw follows. Again, it is still possible that you’ll need braces even after you have a tooth extraction or two, but this will facilitate their movement and your overbite correction, meaning you’ll spend less time in braces.

Splint Therapy

An untreated overbite can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, which is the joint just in front of your ears that attaches your jaw to your skull. You use this joint whenever you talk, eat, drink, or yawn. Various causes of overbites are also closely associated with TMJ, including teeth grinding, tongue thrusting, and jaw clenching. Unfortunately, TMJ can be painful, and it won’t get better without treatment; in fact, it can get worse.

Splint therapy is used to relieve the pressure on your jaw joint, thereby relieving the pain. It involves wearing an oral splint that prevents your teeth from touching each other and holds them in the best possible position until the TMJ is successfully treated. Following splint treatment for TMJ, most patients undergo orthodontic care, including the use of braces to permanently align the jaw and straighten teeth. This further treatment will help keep TMJ from recurring.

What Is an Overbite?

An overbite is a type of orthodontic condition medically known as malocclusion. It is characterized by the upper teeth protruding out over the lower teeth, causing misaligned jaws. Essentially, an overbite is where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. While almost everyone has a slight overbite because the upper teeth naturally overlap and rest in front of the lower teeth, there should not be a large gap between the upper and lower teeth.

You might have also heard the term “overjet,” which is a type of overbite that is characterized by severely protruding front upper teeth. They may even be nearly horizontal rather than vertical, and are often colloquially referred to as “buck teeth.” This condition is more closely associated with jaw pain and speech problems than typical overbites. It is also a condition that usually causes significant anxiety about one’s appearance, especially as a teenager.

Typically, we want to see no more than a 25% overbite in patients, so if your overbite is 30% or higher, you’re a candidate for correction. We may even recommend treatment if your bite is 15% or more, especially since we now have technology that will allow us to correct a minor overbite more quickly than through traditional braces. As mentioned earlier, Invisalign may be the perfect option for slight overbites.

Types of Overbites

There are two main types of overbites that patients deal with, but both types can be corrected with the above-mentioned treatments. Skeletal overbites occur when the jaws are misaligned. This means that your bones are the cause of the overbite. Dental overbites, on the other hand, are caused by overcrowded teeth. Your jaws may be aligned, but your teeth are pushing your lower jaw back, creating a gap between the upper and lower front teeth.

Classes of Overbites

Along with the two main types of overbites, they are also categorized into classes as well. The three classes of overbites are neutrocclusion (Class I), distocclusion (Class II), and mesiocclusion (Class III).

Neutrocclusion (Class I)

This class contains the most common type of overbite, which is described as a slight overlap of the upper teeth over the lower teeth. The bite is otherwise normal, even though other orthodontic issues like overcrowding may still be present. This condition may also be the result of having an upper jaw that is longer than your lower jaw.

Distocclusion (Class II)

Serious overbites, including overjets, are found in this class. In some cases, the overbite is so severe that the upper back teeth are aligned with the lower jaw’s middle teeth or early molars.

Mesiocclusion (Class III)

This class isn’t an overbite at all, but an underbite and is characterized when the lower front teeth overlap the upper front teeth. It is also possible that your lower jaw is longer than your upper jaw.

Causes of Overbites

As with most dental issues, heredity plays a major role in the cause of an overbite. If your parents or grandparents have had an overbite, you’re more likely to have one as well. Additionally, overcrowded teeth, small jaws, and other dental conditions that can lead to an overbite are also inherited traits. However, there are other potential causes of overbites as well, including the following.

  • Thumb-sucking, using a bottle too long, and using a pacifier too long as a toddler
  • Biting nails or chewing on pens and pencils as a child, teen, or adult
  • Not acting to repair damage after losing one or more teeth
  • Tongue thrusting against the upper teeth
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Teeth grinding
  • Normal aging, especially when a slight overbite is already present

Reasons to Get an Overbite Fixed

Many people believe that getting their overbite fixed is either unnecessary or may require surgery, which is obviously a big step to take. Fortunately, surgery is only rarely necessary. Plus, there are more reasons to fix overbites than just cosmetic ones. Some other reasons to get your overbite fixed include:

  • An overbite can cause pain or discomfort in the jaw
  • It can lead to misaligned teeth, which can also cause pain or difficulty with chewing
  • There is an increased risk of broken teeth if you’re struck in the mouth
  • It may cause speech problems
  • It can cause the teeth to wear down because they are rubbing against other teeth
  • Increased risk of tooth decay due to excessive wear
  • A “deep bite” can cause damage to the lower front gums

When to Get An Overbite Fixed

Since a younger person’s jaw usually hasn’t been set in a misaligned position for very long, it is usually easier to correct an overbite in a teenager with braces or Invisalign. Additionally, kids who are getting an overbite due to thumb-sucking, or bottle or pacifier use can usually receive successful treatment even earlier than their teen years. However, this doesn’t mean adults can’t get their overbites fixed because they absolutely can.

Surgery is more of a possibility with adults because as mentioned above, their jaws are more difficult to move. However, if you prefer to fix the problem without surgery, we can likely put together a less-invasive treatment plan with braces or other solutions. There may be some occasions where surgery is the only option, but in most cases, we can fix overbites with traditional braces and elastic bands. We just need to examine your teeth first.

Next Steps

Once you decide you want to get your overbite fixed, the next step is to come in for a consultation and examination. Contact our experts at Rollins & Peterson Orthodontics in Mesa, AZ to learn how we can give you a smile you’ll be proud of.