An overbite or a malocclusion, as it’s known in dental circles, is when your upper teeth jut way out over your lower teeth and this is commonly known to most people as “buck teeth.” When they do not meet properly, it will affect your other teeth as well as your gums, neck and head, the muscles of your jaw, your jaw joint and your oral health. A large percentage of children do develop an overbite and this makes it the most common problemseen by orthodontists.
There are two kinds of malocclusions, or overbites, and they are as follows:
The top teeth overlap the bottom teeth too much and this can cause discomfort, excessive wear on your front teeth, bone damage and the eventual loss of the upper incisors.
The lower teeth, when closing your mouth, sit just in front of the upper teeth.
There are a number of things to look for that will tip you off to an overbite situation and, if you notice any of them, be sure to see your dentist and talk about how it can be treated. The signs are as follows:
- Excessive tooth wear
- Tooth loss
- Previous root canals
- Tooth sensitivity
- Head and neck muscle pain
- Jaw joint pain
- Joint noises
These can also be symptoms of other problems so, once again, be sure to see your dentist and find out what is causing the symptoms.
Now you may be asking yourself what causes an overbite so following are a few of the causes:
- Genetics – you inherit the size of your teeth and the shape of your jaw from both parents so if you end up with your mother’s jaw and your father’s teeth, there you have it…an overbite
- Thumb or finger sucking past age two
- Chronic nail biting
- Chronic pencil chewing
- Tongue thrusting
Overbite (malocclusion) can negatively affect your oral health also as, if left untreated, it can lead to the following:
- Muscle pain
- Chronic headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Tooth movement
- Tooth loss
- Injuries to the teeth
- Tooth wear
- Tooth sensitivity
- Permanently damaged front teeth
- Protruding front teeth are a target for trauma such as risk of injury when playing sports
- Problems eating properly which could lead to mild malnutrition
- The ever present trauma of teasing due to buck teeth
Any or all of the above can lead to pain, chipped or broken teeth and even failed restorations so your dentist will develop a treatment plan to correct the overbite. Before he/she can do this, a full series of X-rays, photographs and impressions of your teeth are needed to models can be made of how they come together. This is what your dentist will use to decide on the best way to treat your overbite.
Now here is some information on the treatment of your overbite. The treatment itself will probably last about 2 years and is divided into 2 stages both of which require a full set of braces. Stage 1 is called ‘leveling and aligning’ which serves to get all the teeth straight by using braces and stage 2 works specifically on your overbite. This pushes all your top teeth, as well as your molars, back to where they belong.
Your bottom teeth may also need to be gently pushed forward for you to get a proper bite and this is done with rubber bands, nickel-titanium coils, springs or headgear which will be worn through this second stage of correcting your overbite. Many children and, I suppose, adults as well don’t like to wear headgear to most orthodontists will use the coils, springs or rubber bands which all give great results.