What is Overbite? Its Types, Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment?
We are provided with two sets of teeth. The upper set of teeth, also known as Maxillary teeth, and the lower set of teeth, also known as the Mandibular teeth. The normal teeth alignment is that the lower set of teeth remain a little retracted or backward than the upper set of teeth and the upper front teeth overlap some portion of the lower front teeth in order to form the proper bite. Overjet or protruding of front teeth along with overbite may also occur and it is also known as Buck Teeth. The normal overlap would be 1-3 millimeters. When the overlap of upper front teeth is more than the normal range it is termed as Overbite. It can be further divided into Deep (4-8 mm of overlap) and Severe (9 mm and above) based on the severity of the overbite.
What are the Types of Overbites and What Causes Them?
Overbites can be classified into two main types which are Skeletal and Dental.
Skeletal overbites result due to issues of the size of the face or jaw during development. This could be attributed to genetics. This disruption in the development might lead to a smaller jaw/ smaller face or a larger jaw/ face which would either be insufficient to accommodate the teeth resulting in a tightly packed set of teeth, crowding, and even crooked teeth or widely spaced teeth due to the larger jaw.
Dental overbites are usually acquired one due to certain childhood habits. Some of the common causes of Dental Overbites are as below:
- Thumb sucking
- Long pacifier use
- Pushing the front teeth by tongue
- Losing baby teeth prematurely without proper dental replacements or restorations.
- Nail-biting or chewing
- Biting on hard objects
- Teeth grinding
What are the Effects of Overbite?
Well, it depends on how severe the Overbite is. In cases with a minor Overbite usually, there are no such side effects. However, deep and severe Overbites have significant effects on the alignment as well as normal functions if left untreated. Certain effects that are caused by deep to severe Overbite include Jaw pain, Difficulty in speech, pain while chewing, breathing issues in some cases, cavities in teeth, and even certain diseases of Gums. In certain severe cases, patients with Overbite tend to lose their upper front teeth due to constant friction from lower teeth leading to decay in the bone around teeth. Also, if the upper front teeth are constantly irritating the gums around the lower teeth area, it can cause bleeding in the gums and also lead to tooth decay.
Overbites can also cause headaches and ear pain due to nerve compression and excessive pressure on the inner ear. Some patients suffering from Overbites also experience snoring due to obstruction of the ear-nose-throat area which causes pressure in the nasal passage and leads to Snoring.
What are the Symptoms and how can you Diagnose an Overbite?
There are various symptoms that help you self-diagnose an Overbite like constant pain in the jaw or head, difficulty in opening or closing mouth, issues with speech, and most importantly the appearance of the front teeth which are excessively overlapping when you join your back teeth in a bite.
Obviously, you would need an Orthodontist to make a definitive diagnosis who further carries out various 3D x-rays and imaging studies like computed tomography (CT) to determine the cause and severity of the Overbite.
Can you Prevent an Overbite?
The answer here could be Yes and No. Certain overbites are due to Skeletal or genetic reasons which cannot be prevented and are bound to occur. However, the acquired Overbite can be prevented in childhood to a great extent by following ways:
- Avoid sipping cups.
- Limit the use of pacifiers in children above 2-3 years of age.
- Find out ways to stop thumb sucking after infancy.
- Have regular dental check-ups from age of 1.
How to Treat an Overbite and Different Methods for it?
Your Dentist will direct you to an Orthodontist who specializes in teeth alignment and after proper diagnosis of your Overbite would suggest a treatment option that is best suited based on the severity of your Overbite. There are various treatment methods that could be considered like Braces, Invisalign and Surgery.
The most widely used and preferred treatment option by an Orthodontist is via Braces. Based on the severity of Overbite, an Orthodontist would decide the duration of incorporation for Braces. Normally it can last from 6 months to a year and in some cases may also require more time. The braces are usually available as Metal and Ceramic based. Along with braces, your orthodontist may also use rubber bands, springs, etc. to achieve better results. For children, metal braces with colorful bands and springs are used due to their appeal while for adult people or teenagers ceramic braces which match their tooth color are incorporated for a more aesthetic look.
Currently, Invisalign has gained a lot of popularity among people for the method it utilizes, its design, and innovation which provide optimum results and efficacy. Invisalign is an excellent choice of treatment when it comes to Overbite. In this method, your Orthodontist utilizes a set of clear plastic aligners which are fabricated to fit your teeth. These aligners once in place correct the Overbite gradually and effectively by moving your teeth in the right position.
Surgery is usually opted in severe cases which cannot be treated just by Orthodontic interventions. Surgery is chosen mostly in adults since their bones and jaw have already developed and are difficult to move with orthodontic treatments. Orthodontic treatments work effectively in children due to ongoing development hence even serious cases do not require surgery and can be corrected with only orthodontic intervention. Certain alterations to the Jaw and bones are done via surgery in order to correct an overbite.
You can refer to the images below to see what a before and after of Overbite treatment can look like:
The important thing here to note is that Overbite can re-occur if proper after-treatment care is not taken. Hence, Orthodontists always provide retainers to be used for a certain time after the alignment correction is done to prevent any movement of teeth and schedule timely visits to monitor. Retainers play an important role in maintaining the treatment so it is important to wear your retainers so that the Overbite does not come back!
Cabot, M. (2013). Overbite. United Kingdom: HarperCollins Publishers.