As you bite down where do your teeth meet? Do they align, or are your upper teeth out front more than your lower teeth?
It’s rare for upper and lower teeth to align perfectly, but there should only be a slight gap when you bite down. More commonly, the upper teeth are little more forward than the bottom teeth.
When the upper teeth are significantly more forward than your bottom teeth, this is called an overbite.
An overbite is a form of malocclusion, or also known as a bad bite. Your dentist may also state it’s either vertical or horizontal.
A vertical overbite is when the top teeth significantly overlap the bottom teeth. In a horizontal overbite, the gap between the top and bottom teeth is not as severe.
Having a misaligned jaw not only can be painful, but it can also cause other oral health issues. If the upper jaw protrudes severally enough, it can cause facial deformities and affect your self-esteem.
There are several treatment options available that can correct the jaw misalignment and treat any other associated health issues.
Causes and Symptoms
There are two main causes of an overbite: skeletal or dental. Heredity can play a role in both types. If any of your family members have jaw or teeth issues, you and your children are more likely to have them too.
When your jawbones grow unevenly, this can cause a gap between the upper and lower teeth. An injury to the chin, face or mouth can lead to deformities in the jaw as well. These causes are called a skeletal overbite.
When an overbite is caused by crooked, twisted, or damaged teeth, it’s called a dental overbite. This type of jaw problem can be caused at any time. In children, thumb-sucking, prolonged use of the bottle or pacifier, or tongue thrusting can cause oral health issues including teeth and jaw problems.
According to WebMD, “tongue thrusting is the habit of sealing the mouth for swallowing by thrusting the top of the tongue forward against the lips.” This puts pressure against the front teeth, pushing them out of alignment. Some adult bad habits such as nail-biting or chewing on pencils can also cause damage to your teeth and jaw.
Having a bad bite can be painful and cause other health issues. These can include problems with chewing and biting down, speech problems such as lisps, strained jaw and facial muscles, worn tooth enamel, damage to the roof of the mouth from teeth resting on it, and facial deformities.
An overbite can be treated at any time. The best time for treatment is in early childhood when jawbones are still growing.
There are several different types of treatments available for both children and adults. Your dentist can help you determine if treatment is needed, and what type will be the most effective.
The first step is getting an assessment from your dentist. Your dentist may then send you to an orthodontist. Next, impressions and x-rays of your teeth, mouth, and face are taken to determine if there is a problem and any other oral health issues that need to be addressed.
If your dentist or orthodontist feels there is a significant misalignment issue with your jaw, an option for treatment will be determined. Depending on the extent of the overbite, your treatment may include orthodontics, tooth extraction, or possible surgery.
Often there are other orthodontic problems when there is an overbite. Braces are commonly used to correct both issues.
In addition to the braces, an orthodontist may also use rubber bands, coils, springs or headgear to help correct your jaw location. Braces are worn for approximately two years. Depending on your own personal oral health needs, they can be on a bit longer or taken off sooner.
After your braces are removed, generally a retainer is worn for a specified amount of time to help keep your teeth in their new place.
An overbite can be a serious matter. It not only causes physical discomfort but possible facial abnormalities that can affect your self-esteem. A professionally trained dental office, such as Aesthetic Family Dentistry in Phoenix, Arizona, can assess whether there is a problem and help you get any treatments needed.
Contact Aesthetic Family Dentistry to make an appointment for a consultation. The trained professionals in this family-friendly office will assess your oral health needs and diagnose any problems. The trained staff can explain to you what an overbite is and how it can be treated as well.