Human body is a fascinating thing, each part is intricately connected with one another. And hence, while we are ignoring a persisting health issue, we fail to realise what other body parts we are compromising and putting at risk.
For example, we see our smiles as more of an aesthetic thing, when it is an indicator of our oral health which goes hand in hand with our facial structure and overall health. This is the reason more and more healthcare professionals are urging people to not ignore minor health problems.
Coming to the topic at hand, a slight overbite might not seem like too big of a flaw, however, ignoring it can open a box full of health concerns.
What Is An Overbite? | Overbite Meaning
An overbite is when the upper set of teeth overlap the lower jaw. While it is common and considered healthy for individuals to have a slight overbite, let’s say 1-2 millimeters, others have more prominent bite issues. This is known as a deep overbite or a malocclusion.
This is when the overlap between the upper and lower jaw is more pronounced and needs to be professionally taken care of immediately. People with deep overbites also often suffer from a recessed chin which affects the overall face shape. The face grows shorter and rounder which might make them look unattractive and slightly older.
Other than these aesthetics issues, in most cases, malocclusion also causes headaches, TMJ pain, jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
What Causes An Overbite? | Overbite Causes
While genetics play a huge role in deciding whether you have an overbite or not, certain chronic bad habits also provide major contributions. One such habit being thumb sucking.
When a child has their thumb in their mouth, the constant tongue thrusting motion pushes the thumb and upper teeth to move forward while the thumb while moving back, pushes the lower teeth backwards.
Other than that, a child’s speech can also be affected by an overbite causing speech impediment. People with an overbite tend to overuse their tongue while speaking which can affect the clarity of their words and might even give them a lisp.
How To Measure An Overbite? | Measuring an Overbite
A normal overbite is around 2 to 3 mm (millimeters). This is a healthy range and both your maxillary and mandibular teeth will be aesthetically pleasing, in this case.
If you think you have an overbite, an at home test can be done. You can check if your upper front teeth fall on top of your lower front teeth when placed in the default position.
If the overlap of the upper teeth is more than 3.5 mm then it means you have an overbite. Another way to test an overbite is to check if the lower row of teeth are pushing into the hard palate (roof of the mouth).
Different Types of Overbites
When talking about overbites, there are two categories, namely dental and skeletal.
A Dental Overbite
This type of overbite commonly occurs due to misaligned teeth. In this case, even when the lower jaw is well balanced to the upper jaw, the misalignment forces the lower jaw back towards your neck. Nonsurgical treatments typically work best with this type of overbite correction for adults.
A Skeletal Overbite
In this type of overbite, the lower jaw is not the optimum size, and is too small to fit the upper jaw. This results in the upper teeth pushing forward over the smaller lower jaw. As realignment is required in these cases, surgical solutions are recommended.
Aesthetically, this type of overbite is much more problematic. If the overbite increases, fewer of your lower teeth will be visible. In severe cases, consequences include wearing down of your lower teeth, trauma to the gums on the back of the upper central incisors.
The number one step in case of a skeletal overbite is a consultation with an orthodontist. Overbite correction treatment is unquestionable.
Is Overbite Treatment Important?
Overbites tend to deepen over time and hence, it is important for it to be treated properly at an early age. The reason for it deepening is usually related to the teeth being worn down by all the clenching and grinding, making the overbite more pronounced.
In some cases, an overbite can also make it difficult to properly clean your teeth and gums. This further leads to tooth decay, gum disease or even tooth loss if not treated in time.
Other issues include headaches, tooth and jaw pain. Overbite also has a direct influence on your body’s nutrition count, due to the impact it has on food consumption. Eating and chewing take a painful route which hammers an individual’s diet.
As you can tell from all these outcomes, if left unchecked, an overbite can lead to several health problems. By choosing early orthotropic/orthodontic care, one can reduce the risk of a complicated oral procedure like surgery later in life.
Here is a range of dental and health problems causes by an uncorrected overbite:
- Speech Impediment
- Chewing Difficult
- Gum Damage
- Receding Gums
- Tooth Loss
- Gum Diseases
- Sleep apnoea
- Jaw Pain
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
What Are My Treatment Options?
For TMJ caused discomfort, repositioning the lower jaw into a more natural position through splint therapy can be recommended. What this therapy does is, reduces the excess pressure being put on the blood vessels and nerves of the temporomandibular joint. Later on, to keep the jaw from shifting, orthodontic braces are utilized.
In some cases deepening on the severity of the overbite, the orthodontist will ask you to go straight to braces in order to realign the teeth and jaw. There are several options to choose from when it comes to braces. Let’s learn what they are:
These kinds of braces are made of a combination of brackets and wires to steadily reposition the teeth. The brackets cling to the teeth with a unique type of glue. The brackets and wires assist with the gradual repositioning of the teeth.
The option of traditional metal braces will provide results. On the other hand, they are more noticeable in your mouth and come with difficulties in consuming food and drinks. Also, because they are strongly glued on to your teeth, until the process is completed and the braces are removed, brushing and flossing properly can be challenging.
If you do not prefer the more noticeable option of traditional braces, you can consider other options that are less obviously noticeable. These include ceramic braces, tooth-colored braces and Invisalign.
Invisalign braces are simply removable aligners made of clear plastic that are changed in the time frame of about two weeks by the orthodontist. This is done while the teeth slowly move into a better alignment.
Due to the invisible factor, Invisalign aligners are less noticeable on your teeth. Also, unlike metal or ceramic braces, there are no dietary restrictions because you take them off while eating and drinking.
However, because one needs a new set of invisalign every two weeks in the course of treatment this means frequent trips to the orthodontist are needed.
These braces, instead of the front, are attached to the back of the teeth in order to be less visible. Orthodontists also guide adequate teeth movement by attaching rubber bands to these braces.
Lingual braces have the same cons attached to traditional braces, the only pro being the fact that they are not visible. Also, not all dental professionals offer this type of treatment because it requires specialized skill.
As we have learned, there are pros and cons to each type of braces and treatment. While invisalign braces may seem like the wiser choice, it should be kept in mind that in certain cases, only traditional metal braces will provide the best results.
Things to Remember
Before making the final decision, it is important that you research and search around for the best orthotropist/orthodontist in your city.
Evaluate once you have set up multiple consultations and received a couple of recommendations. Once you have all the necessary knowledge, compare the cost as well as pros and cons of each type of treatment.
All the treatments are mostly in a similar range when compared through the cost incurred, Though sometimes Invisalign can cost a little more. You also need to check if your insurance will cover the cost of the treatment or if they have a different plan that does.
We cannot stress enough on maintaining proper oral hygiene regardless of the treatment option you choose. Remember, any cavity, tooth infection or tooth loss will further delay your treatment.
Hence, it is important to brush and floss twice a day throughout the treatment process.
In these modern times, there are several options available to treat adult overbites. It doesn’t matter which way of treatment you select, unless you are seeking professional orthodontic/orthotropic advice and correcting your overbite situation.
Choosing the right treatment will depend on the extremity of the overbite, budget and the term of treatment.