What is an overbite and how do you treat it?

By November 24, 2019Teeth & gums

Also known as “buck teeth”, most people have some degree of an overbite. An overbite is when your upper front teeth overlap your lower front teeth. Having an overbite is often hereditary, but can also be caused by thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, the extended use of a dummy or pacifier, or missing teeth.

Causes of buck teeth

Thumb-sucking

Sucking your thumb may seem harmless, but over time the pressure created from sucking, along with the finger that is sucked, can cause your teeth to form an abnormal angle.

Using a dummy

Sucking on a pacifier can cause an overbite in the same way thumb-sucking can.

Tongue thrusting

This is when you press your tongue too far forward in your mouth an overbite could form. It’s usually common in children but could continue into adulthood. Having swollen tonsils or poor swallowing habits may also cause tongue thrusting.

Unevenly spaced teeth

Having missing teeth or extra space in your mouth makes having an overbite more likely. That’s because uneven spacing or too many teeth in your mouth can cause the appearance of buck teeth. In addition, missing teeth can cause the remaining teeth to gradually shift over time, affecting the position of your front teeth.

Tumours or cysts in your mouth or jaw

If a cyst or tumour grows in your mouth, the alignment of your teeth or the shape of your mouth and jaw can change, resulting in buck teeth. This happens when a soft tissue or bony swelling forms in the upper part of your mouth, causing your teeth to move forward.

Overbite health issues

A slight overbite may not cause noticeable issues, but a more severe case may cause:

  • Speech impediments
  • Damage to your teeth and gums
  • Trouble chewing
  • Breathing problems
  • Pain when chewing and biting
  • Change in the appearance of your face
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Treatment

Usually, treatment for an overbite isn’t necessary. If you experience pain or any discomfort, or aren’t happy with the appearance of your teeth, talk to your dentist or an orthodontist.

Don’t try to fix your overbite at home as you could do further damage. As the size and shapes of teeth vary, each case will need different treatment.

Braces

The most common treatment for an overbite are braces and retainers for your mouth. These work because metal wires or brackets that are attached to your teeth gradually moves them over time. This eventually gives you a straighter looking smile. Most people get braces or a retainer in their teen years, but adults can also benefit from this treatment.

Jaw surgery

If your overbite is severe, surgery may be needed. Surgery may also be needed if your upper and lower jaw has stopped growing correctly. Tooth extraction may also be an option if you have too many teeth in your mouth.

Palate expansion

If your upper jaw is too small to accommodate your teeth, a procedure called palate expansion can be done. A special appliance made up of two pieces is attached to the upper molar teeth. This treatment is usually used to help children whose adult teeth can’t fit comfortably in their mouth.

Living with an overbite

You could live comfortably with a slight overbite if you keep your teeth healthy, but it’s best to check with a dentist to make sure. You may not have any discomfort at the moment, but on the long-run, an overbite can cause damage to your teeth.

Avoid oral health issues:

  • Use a mouth guard to prevent tongue thrusting.
  • Practice oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.
  • See your dentist regularly.

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