Overbite is a dental term used to describe a bite misalignment. Technically, an overbite is the extent, measured in millimeters or as a percentage; to which there is an overlap of the upper front teeth (maxillary central incisors) over the lower front teeth (mandibular central incisors). Basically, these front teeth are used to shear or cut into food as you chew. If you’ve ever looked at your own front teeth in a mirror, you’ll notice that these teeth have no cusps, but rather sharp edges or ridges. In the majority of overbite cases, bite correction involves braces. In cases of excessive overbite, a person’s upper front teeth reach far down over the lower front teeth. Extreme examples are when a person’s lower front teeth actually cut into the roof of the mouth. Bite correction for excessive overbite may involve a combination of jaw surgery and orthodontic treatment to resolve the problem.
What is a Normal Overbite?
Dental professionals consider a normal overbite to be between 3 to 5 mm, or 20-30 percent of the heights of the (mandibular incisors) lower front teeth. An overbite or overlap over 5mm is considered severe. Just like underbites, overbites are inherited like the color of your hair or eyes. The correction of an overbite, with overlaps smaller than 5 mm, involves braces, retainers and other dental appliances. Depending upon the severity of the condition, overbites can cause a number of long-term issues if left untreated such as:
- Difficulty speaking or chewing
- Difficulty maintaining proper oral hygiene
- Risk of periodontal or gum disease
- Rick of TMJ or Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Changes in facial appearance causing low self-esteem or lack of confidence
Dental experts agree that the earlier a patient is seen by a dentist or orthodontist the easier it is to correct an overbite. A bite correction is easier to implement when a patient is in their growth development stages, usually between the ages of 7 and 13. Addressing issues of an overbite in adulthood, depending upon the extent of the overlap, may involve orthognathic or jaw surgery.
What causes an overbite?
While genetics plays a part in bite misalignment, other causes can be overdevelopment or underdevelopment of the upper or lower jaw during childhood. Other factors include harmful oral habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting or pacifier use beyond the age of 3. Sometimes an overbite can be the result of tumors in the mouth or jaw, or misalignment of the jawbone after a severe injury.
Bite Correction Solutions
Overbites are very common among a majority of people, but if it’s causing pain, discomfort or if it’s a primary cause of low self esteem, it may be time to address the issue. Most bite correction treatments involve braces, retainers and other appliances for mild to moderate cases. This type of overbite correction may take anywhere from 12 to 24 months. There is an expensive non-surgical and no-brace treatment option available from a California dentist who sees remarkable results. He claims completed overbite correction treatment in as little as 2 weeks.
First your dentist or orthodontist may take a panoramic x-ray. This x-ray allows the dentist to examine the exact positioning of the teeth, head and the jawbones and their relationship to one another from different angles. The orthodontist conducts a full clinical exam and may also make molds or impressions of the entire upper and lower jaw.
For severe cases, jaw surgery may be necessary to achieve the desired results. With jaw surgery, the upper or lower jawbone is physically moved forward or back to prevent protrusion of the front teeth. This surgical procedure can be very invasive. The average recovery period is usually between three to four months.