An overbite is a malocclusion that occurs with the alignment of your teeth when your top jaw overlaps your lower jaw.
If you’re lost at the moment, take some time for a little clarification. Occlusion refers to the alignment of your teeth. When you have a malocclusion, it means that there is a complication in the alignment of your teeth.
The good news, in this case, is that not all situations with an overbite are critical and damaging to your teeth. It is always better to have a misalignment in your teeth checked out, but overbites come in different stages, some being crucial.
The first and most common stage is having a slight overlap with your upper and lower teeth. This actually happens to almost everyone, though in some cases it’s too slim an overlap to notice. The second stage of malocclusion is a more severe case of an overbite, where the upper teeth cover most of the bottom jaw. The final stage, quite serious if you have this one, is when your bottom teeth cover your upper teeth. The final stage is referred to as an underbite and requires immediate attention.
All of these stages can be fixed, only if you get licensed attention as soon as possible.
The difference between an overbite, an underbite, and a crossbite
There are different types of bites you can have. Bites here refers to the misalignment of your teeth, not the term of when you bite down on something.
In total, there are three types of bites you can have; overbite, underbite, and crossbite. All of these are misalignments of your teeth and honestly, don’t make your smile any nicer. They can all be fixed so long as you’re able to identify them before they reach a point too far down the road.
An overbite, as mentioned before, is the misalignment where your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth. This can be a minor or major issue, depending on how deep your teeth drop over.
An underbite occurs when your lower jaw overlaps your upper teeth. This case is always a major issue since this isn’t how your mouth is naturally formed. Any form of an underbite is one that requires maintenance.
Finally, there is the crossbite. A crossbite occurs when your top and bottom teeth are overlapping each other in different parts of your mouth. For example; your front teeth are overlapping top above bottom while your molars are overlapping bottom above the top.
Look in the mirror today, you might spot minor signs for any of these three types of bites.
Common Causes of Overbite
Studies show that in America, 70% of children have overbites due to excess biting and chewing on things such as pencils, nails and more. This unconsciously performed habit tends to push your teeth forward or backward, based on the direction of your teeth.
What creates an overbite or underbite is the natural positioning of your jaws. As children, when you’re teething or sucking your thumb, you’re pushing and pulling on your jaws, altering their natural form. This can result in you getting an overbite.
Sometimes, genetics are the culprits of our jaw formation, resulting in a natural occurrence of malocclusion. The most common scenario is that your teeth came out crooked. These cases that are natural are luckily almost always a quick fix to get straight teeth back.
What Happens if I Don’t Treat My Overbite?
Teeth are an essential part of your body. If you have misaligned teeth, you’ll find quite the collection of disadvantages and the longer you avoid fixing them, the greater a nuisance the disadvantages become.
Listed below are some issues that you’re likely to encounter the longer you don’t attend to your overbite. They go down from least to most impactful.
Problems with chewing
Primarily, your overbite may prevent your teeth from properly balancing out the food inside of your mouth. If your front teeth are layering over your back molars, then they may be stopping hard foods from reaching your molars. Front teeth can get damaged if you try to break hard foods with them.
Difficulty keeping teeth clean
With an overbite, you may find it harder to reach the back of your teeth and you may even completely miss out some. When your upper teeth are covering your lower jaw, it’ll be harder to locate and brush your teeth. Flossing is also an issue when you can’t place the dental floss through your bottom teeth. This means while you may be thoroughly cleaning your top teeth, your bottom teeth are left dirty and unkept, vulnerable to greater contamination.
Jaw and muscle strain
As one layer of your teeth presses down on the other, your jaws steadily become more and more deformed. This is going to strain the natural positioning of your jaw, making them hurt as they shift and turn. Protruding teeth will also collide with the sides, top and bottom of your mouth, applying unwanted pressure on sensitive areas.
This point compliments not being able to properly clean your
teeth. If your teeth are not being cleaned on a daily basis, they’re exposed to getting cavities and become prone to decaying earlier. If this happens, you’re going to need more than just help in realigning your teeth. The longer you let it wait, the more limited your options become until there’s no other choice but to pull out the contaminated teeth.
If you notice your tooth decay is spreading in hard to get areas, it’s most likely because you’re not brushing properly due to the overbite.
With a misaligned jaw, your mouth isn’t going to be in a comfortable position. This happens especially when your overbite is a developing issue, and only when you’re born with a critical condition. Your mouth is incapable of making the right movements to exert proper sound. This means no matter how hard you try, you may not be able to say words properly.
This is where your daily life starts getting majorly affected. Losing the capability to speak is not a small problem, it’s a big problem. Your main method of communication is stripped from you and you’re left with inaudible sounds and a pained mouth.
Difficulty or pain when eating
Another inevitable sign of a critical condition, facing pains in your mouth while you’re eating is a clear sign of serious malocclusion. Your hope should be that you don’t reach such a major stage where your mouth begins aching while dining. If such a case does arise, the solution might be dental surgery to fix the alignment of your teeth.
Finally, there’s the most important point. Your self-esteem should never be down-ridden from having an overbite. Though there are few people who don’t bother with their overbites, most people become quite self-conscious and insecure knowing that there’s an issue with their teeth. No one can blame you for having contorted teeth, neither will anyone blame you for wanting to fix them.
Fixing your teeth into a straighter smile is no shameful act. It makes you look beautiful and dentists and orthodontists alike recommend it.
How to Treat an Overbite Effectively
Now that you know the consequences of what can happen with an overbite, perhaps it’s time to look into the following solutions.
There are multiple ways to treat your overbite, all requiring professional attention though. They vary in technique and the intensity of your overbite. If you’re looking at an ordinary situation, you can aspire to fix the problem with braces or retainers.
For more serious situations though, you’ll find more limiting and lengthier options such as teeth removal or dental surgery. That’s why it’s always better to fix overbites as soon as you identify it.
This is the most basic procedure and can easily fix an overbite in a two year period or more, depending on the case.
Braces are placed on your teeth to straighten them out. With wires creating tension between your teeth, pushing them into a straighter position, braces can also fix the positioning of your jaws. They’ll push your teeth higher, straighter making way for the teeth underneath on your bottom jaw.
Braces can help both adults and children. For children, braces can help align both their jaws and teeth for the perfect smile at the right age. When it comes to adult braces though, they can only straighten your teeth, not jaws. At that point in life, your jaws have settled in their position and frankly in no mood to alter themselves for you.
Retainers come after braces to ensure your teeth don’t shift back into their original position. They are adding support for your teeth until they finally settle in their newfound positions. With retainers on, your bottom teeth can also accustom themselves to their open space with no more overlap. In this sense, it’s better to have braces since you don’t want your bottom teeth spreading out.
Surgery will only ever be done if your skeleton is the origination of the misalignment. In this case, your jaw is not the only problem, but the way your skull forms are the cause of your protruding jaw.
Surgery is for the most severe cases where your teeth are protruding past your entire bottom jaw, meaning your alignment is highly unnatural. Otherwise, dentists and orthodontists don’t recommend resorting to surgery first. It’s always better to allow your teeth a more natural way to find a straighter alignment.
This is the final resort and the least pleasant. Teeth removal happens when your teeth are beyond help, damaging the rest of your mouth with the position they’re in. Teeth removal means you’ll get fillers or fake teeth in replacement. It’s not going to lead to the pretty smile you were hoping for.
Teeth removal will also have to happen if you don’t take proper care of the overbite, letting it take over your mouth and ruin the posture of your bones and jaw. This process is not fun, requiring some surgery on its own. It ruins your natural smile and makes for a sour appearance.
An overbite is not hard to fix. When it comes to children, the time could never be better. Children still have developing jaws and teeth, finding their natural positioning. With braces to direct them into more proper placement, they can completely avoid the terrors of an overbite.
Some parents even have the baby teeth removed properly so the child can’t toy with it and ruin the tooth coming from underneath. This makes sure the grown-up tooth hidden in the gums has the space it needs to come out straight.
Children can even get their jaws fixed while wearing their braces and retainers. For adults, it’s a little trickier.
Adults have reached a point where their jaws and bones have found their alignment and altering this won’t be easy. Braces can help only so far along the road. They can bring your teeth into a straighter position, but they can’t help your jaw placement. If the issue revolves around your jaws, then surgery may be required to fix this. When you’re an adult though, it’s not as intensely recommended to get surgery or align your jaw. If the issue is minor, then dentists will decide against it.
Overbites are not as complicated an issue as you may have thought. It’s simply a misplacement in the alignment of your teeth. The only issue arises when your teeth begin to harm the rest of your mouth, making life a little harder than it should be. With the right knowledge and help, your overbite can disappear in no time.
All you need is to identify it.