An overbite is a very common dental condition that occurs when your teeth do not match up properly. They are most commonly found in children and studies have shown that certain childhood habits such as sucking a thumb or pacifier can actually be the cause of an overbite. The condition can also develop in older individuals who have lost their back teeth or who are genetically prone to developing this condition due to the size of their mouth and width of their pallet.
No matter what the cause, an overbite can be a very distracting dental issue for any person, no matter what their age. It can and should be treated by a dental professional.
There are typically a few different options to correcting an overbite ranging from a full set of braces, to a retainer, which is removable and resembles a mouth guard. Depending on the type and severity of the overbite, different dentists may recommend different approaches to fixing the overbite.
Before you visit a dentist for help with treating an overbite, it is important that you properly diagnose the condition so you can make sure you get the help you need to correct the issue. Here are some tips to help you fix your overbite for good.
Diagnosing Your Overbite At Home
Before you visit a dentist for assistance with your overbite, you need to be able to diagnose what type of dental issue you are dealing with. Some overbites are so distinct and noticeable that they are extremely easy to diagnose. However, some overbites may be more subtle and require further diagnostic skills.
Here is how you can determine if you in fact have an overbite, and you can do it right at home while standing in front of a mirror.
- Close your mouth and place your teeth together naturally.
- Keep your jaw relaxed and do not attempt to force your teeth together, as this will allow your teeth to position themselves naturally.
- Smile while looking in the mirror, so you can reveal your teeth, making sure that you are spreading your lips away from your teeth.
- Examine your teeth to see if your upper teeth fall over the top of your bottom front teeth.
- If your teeth overlap noticeably on the bottom, or if you feel your lower row of teeth biting close to or into the roof of your mouth, then these are signs that your alignment is off and that you are dealing with an overbite.
Just recognizing that you have an overbite is only half the battle. There are actually three different types of overbites to classify.
Class 1- The most common class of overbite, where the bite is normal but your upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth. When viewed from the site, the chin looks relatively normal.
Class 2- With this type of overbite the upper jaw and the upper teeth significantly overlap the bottom jaw and the bottom teeth. When viewed from the side, the chin is behind the normal position.
Class 3- This is actually a malocclusion, or an under bite. It can also be called a prognathism. This occurs when the lower jaw protrudes forward, causing the lower teeth to overlap the upper jaw and teeth.
Diagnosing Your Overbite at the Dentist
The best way to get the most accurate diagnosis possible on an overbite is to visit a dentist for proper diagnosis. This is especially true if you have a child who may have an overbite, as nearly half of children have this condition. The earlier that the overbite is diagnosed, the fewer complications will likely arise.
During this examination, the dentist will not only look at your jaw and the overall condition of your teeth, but they will also examine your bite. Typically, dentists can either look right at your bite or will have you bite down on something in order to determine the class of overbite.
Some dentists may also want to do an x-ray on the jaw as well. This can help dentists get a better view of the jaw and the positioning of the teeth. It can also help in children without permanent teeth as it will show the dentist where these teeth will eventually come in.
How to Fix an Overbite Professionally
Unfortunately, there is no simple way to fix your overbite at home. It takes professional treatment and typically this treatment can take several months, depending on the severity of the overbite. The reason it takes time is that in order to fix an overbite, you need to change the actual pattern and position of the jaw.
The good news is that modern treatments are able to facilitate these changes slowly overtime, so while the effects are significant in changing the overbite, they are not painful. There are three main ways to fix an overbite with professional treatments.
This is a very common overbite treatment, especially in young children. Braces can help align the teeth and can be used to both fix an overbite and cooked teeth at the same time. The braces work by applying pressure to the teeth so that they slowly move in a certain direction.
Braces are an effective way to change a number of teeth alignment issues, including overbites. However, it is important to note that metal braces can be quite cumbersome. They are made with metal brackets, wires and small elastic bands and need to be check up on frequently. While most people do get used to the feeling of braces, they can be irritating to the mouth, tongue, lips and cheeks, particularly in the first two weeks as children are getting used to the braces,
Most adults do not opt for metal braces as they can be distracting from their appearance and they may feel more comfortable with “invisible braces” or aligners.
Aligners are another common solution for fixing an overbite. They look and act just like a retainer and fit tightly over the teeth. Unlike braces, aligners can often be removed and are typically much less noticeable. However, unlike retainers, aligners are meant to move or align the teeth instead of keeping them in place. This means the aligner may need to change frequently to adhere to the changes that the jaw makes over time.
These aligners are typically clear and made of acrylic. They can and should be removed multiple times a day for cleaning and to brush the teeth underneath. They should also be removed for eating. It can take months for aligners to work in fixing an overbite, but with time they can make a significant impact on the positioning of the teeth so that the bite can return to a normal position.
This is a less common, and more severe approach to fixing an overbite, but it may be necessary in certain situations. Typically tooth extraction is used when the overbite is causing overcrowding in the mouth, or basically when there is not enough space for all of the teeth to fit and grow in as they should.
When this approach is applied, the dentist will first take x-rays to determine which tooth, or teeth, need to be removed. Then they will do one of two types of extractions:
- Simple Extraction- This is when the dentist loosens the tooth with an instrument and takes forceps to pull the tooth out of the socket inside the bone. This procedure is fairly quick and does not require anesthesia, although it may require a local numbing agent.
- Surgical Extraction- During a surgical extraction, the patient will go under anesthesia and the dentist will make a small cut in the gum or tooth in order to extract the tooth.
With the extra tooth or teeth out of the way, other aligners and retainers may be applied to help move the jaw and the remaining teeth back into proper alignment so that the overbite can be remedied.