Living with overbite can prove to be rather complicated. Patients suffering from this condition have an altered jaw and dental line which affects their appearance and self-confidence. Some patients also experience significant discomfort and pain, as well as long-term complications. Thus, it is crucial that patients seek medical help because there are quite a few treatment options available. In this article, we are going to tell you the main facts about this dental condition and how to fix an overbite successfully. Patients need to be well informed so that they can be confident that their treatment plan will be efficient.
What Is an Overbite?
An overbite is the overlapping of the lower dental line by the upper. This often leads to malocclusion, which means that the patients’ teeth do not align when the mouth is closed, which causes them discomfort.
The Main Causes of Overbite
Overbite generally develops due to hereditary factors. Jaw growth and develops occurs during the early development stages of the child. At this point, there are some predisposing factors that can lead to the incipient stages of the overbite or accentuate a genetic overbite towards an advanced state of the disorder. These factors include prolonged pacifier use, long-term thumb sucking, excessive nail biting, and habitual tongue twisting.
The central cause remains the genetic predisposition of the child. This is why the vast majority of overbite cases occur in children. The condition can also occur in adults, but this is generally limited to dental overbite and it is caused by the improper development of the patient’s teeth or mechanical trauma.
The Main Types of Overbite
The overlapping of the lower jaw and teeth occurs due to developmental issues of the patient’s jawline and/ or dental line. Thus, there are two types of overbite, according to the main cause of the disorder.
1. Skeletal Overbite
Skeletal overbite is caused by the improper development of the jaw. This occurs during the early evolutionary stages of the child. The severity of the irregular development determines the overbite level as well.
As you can imagine, these are the most complex cases of overbite because the treatment course must target the jaw, rather than the teeth. This usually entails a surgical approach or the long-term use of orthodontic devices which are fixed on the jaw.
2. Dental Overbite
As the name suggests, this type of overbite is caused by the abnormal development and alignment of the patients’ teeth. This may occur during the early stages of the child’s development or it can develop during adulthood, often due to incorrectly and incompletely treated dental issues or even mechanical trauma.
According to the alignment of the teeth, there are two types of overbite:
- Vertical Overbite -In vertical overbites, the top teeth overlap the bottom dental line significantly.
- Horizontal Overbite – In horizontal overbites, the buccal (incisal) cusp of the top teeth (the posterior side of the teeth) protrudes beyond the patient’s bottom teeth. This is referred to as an overjet.
The diagnostic process of overbite is complex because patients may present aspects of both horizontal and vertical overbite, as well as both skeletal and dental overbite. A proper diagnosis is crucial for determining the correct treatment plan because this needs to be adapted to the specific symptoms displayed by the patient.
The Main Symptoms and Complications of Overbite
Depending on the severity of the patient’s overbite, symptoms may vary significantly. While low-level overbites may not even be apparent at first glance, severe cases commonly lead to the disfiguration of the patient and cause long-term complications. Here are the main symptoms of the disorder:
- The incorrect alignment of the teeth – This is in line with the severity of the disorder.
- The altered appearance of the patient – This also depends on the severity of the overbite.
- Speech Problems – Due to the misalignment of the teeth, patients may develop lisps or other speech issues.
- Discomfort while biting and chewing
- Respiratory and Ears, Nose, and Throat Problems – Because patients are not able to align their teeth perfectly and close their mouths completely, they tend to breathe through their mouths as well as their noses, which may lead to both acute and chronic otorhinolaryngological conditions.
Treatment Options for Overbite
As we have mentioned above, the first step of a successful treatment plan is a correct and complete diagnosis made by an orthodontist. The doctor will perform a series of tests to determine the array of causes that have led to the patient’s overbite.
Then the specialist will create a complex course of treatment which is adapted to the patient’s issues. A frequently asked question is “How long does it take to fix an overbite?”. The answer depends on the treatment strategy. A surgical approach is the fastest way towards correcting the issues, while braces and other corrective devices, which are less invasive may require years to have the targeted effect. Here are the main treatment options currently available to patients:
The orthodontist may opt to use various types of braces to correct the patient’s malocclusion. The aim of the braces is to correct the misalignment of the teeth. These rely on a complex wiring and bracket system that can gradually improve the patient’s improperly developed teeth.
How Do Braces Fix an Overbite?
To get an idea of how braces can improve an overbite, you need to begin by visualizing the typical display of the dental line in overbite patients. In dental overbite, the incorrect development of the top teeth causes them lean forward over the bottom teeth. To correct the misalignment, the orthodontist will create personalized braces for the patient, which are aimed to bring the top teeth towards the physiological (straight) display.
Can Braces Fix Overbite?
The answer to this commonly asked question is yes. However, there are some limitations to this treatment option. Braces are targeted to correct dental overbite and in the vast majority of cases, they are successful. They can also be used to improve complex cases that feature aspects of both skeletal and dental overbite. However, the effect they can have on the jaw line is limited at best. This is why complex cases of overbite generally require the use of several treatment methods.
How Does Invisalign Fix Overbite?
Invisalign is a modern type of braces which features a plastic cup system which is custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth. They are similar to mouth guards in appearance and they provide patients with an aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional metal-based braces.
Like the wire-and-bracket system, Invisalign keeps the teeth fixed in a position that can ultimately fix their alignment. These plastic braces need to be changed by an orthodontist every two weeks to preserve the proper fixation of the teeth. By changing them periodically, they can be adapted to the patient’s current dental display with the aim of correcting the misalignment as efficiently as possible.
While Invisalign is a very tempting alternative to metal-based braces from an aesthetic standpoint, they may not be an efficient option to patients suffering from severe cases of overbite. Due to the limited fixation ability of the plastic-based material used for this type of braces, they are suited for less severe cases with low levels of misalignment. The orthodontist will determine whether or not the patient is eligible for this course of treatment.
Retainers, Jaw Expanders, and Other Orthodontic Devices
Depending on the symptoms displayed by the patient, the orthodontist will determine the best-suited type of corrective device that can improve the misalignment of the teeth, as well as the improper development of the jaw.
Retainers are targeted to correct dental overbites, similarly to braces. Correcting skeletal overbites, however, requires more complex devices. These must be able to keep the jaw in place and correct its incorrect display on the long term.
These devices may include jaw expanders, which are fixed on the patients’ jaws, as well as their teeth. They are generally placed on the roof of the mouth and/or the inner sides of the jaw and teeth. Severe cases may even require headgear to be able to keep the jaws and teeth into place.
This is one of the most complex courses of treatment, as patients may experience significant discomfort and pain while wearing the devices. Another notable drawback of orthodontic headgear is the fact that it alters the patient’s appearance dramatically, which may lead to long-term psychological and behavioral complications.
Severe cases of skeletal overbite may require a surgical approach to correct the improper development of the jaw line. While this course of treatment may prove traumatic to the patient, it is extremely efficient in the long term because it can correct even the most complex developmental abnormalities of the jaw. Another obvious drawback of the surgical approach is the high costs associated with orthodontic surgical procedures.
Alternative Treatment Options
Most patents want to know how to fix an overbite at home or even how to fix an overbite naturally. Unfortunately, development issues of the bones and teeth cannot be fixed with home remedies. In fact, improvised treatments may even aggravate the patient’s condition. This is the main reason why they are not recommended.
The only solid non-medical solution to overbite is prevention. This entails that parents make sure that their children do not take on potentially damaging habits such as thumb sucking and excessive pacifier use, which could act like predisposing factors for overbite.
How to fix an Overbite Without Braces
There are some alternative treatment options that the orthodontists can recommend to patients with less severe cases of overbite. Patients can be provided with porcelain caps for their teeth which could correct the malocclusion and preserve the patient’s natural teeth. However, these are only suited for less complex cases where the alignment of the teeth is not affected significantly.
How to Fix an Overbite in Adults
The success of the treatment plan depends significantly on the stage of the disorder. The younger the patient is, the better the outcome can be because the jaw is still in development during childhood. However, overbite cases can be successfully corrected in adults as well by using the correct treatment plan, which will include one or several of the options we have mentioned above.