What is an overbite?
In the simplest of terms, an overbite exists where your row of upper teeth extend beyond the row of your lower teeth when your mouth is closed. This isn’t just a case of your lower jawbone (the mandible) being too short, or your fixed upper jaw (the maxilla) being too long or pronounced.An overbite can either be classed as a vertical overbite, where the upper teeth appreciably overlap the bottom teeth, while a horizontal overbite, or overjet as it is more commonly called, exists where the top teeth protrude beyond the bottom teeth. An overbite can be further classified as a dental overbite, where the overbite is caused by the misalignment of the teeth, and a skeletal overbite, which is where the jaw is the reason for the overbite as opposed to the teeth.
Reasons for an overbite
Overbite is usually a result from four varying causes. In the first instance, the lack of or loss of rear teeth, especially molars, in the lower jaw can allow the remaining teeth to move back through a lack of support. Two habits which are common in early childhood are thumb sucking and overuse of a pacifier. This can lead to the narrowing of the arch to the mouth which, in turn forces the upper teeth forward as they have nowhere else to go. Another habit which can cause overbite is frequent and continual pushing of the tongue against the upper teeth.
When does an overbite usually develop?
Overbite is a condition which is usually first seen in young children and, as a consequence, correction of an overbite is usually performed on children aged between 10 and 12 years old. However, do not be misled, as an overbite can be corrected in adults as well, so there is no age limit for treatment. To learn more about overbite in children, why not download a free copy of our Teeth Straightening Guide which will provide you with comprehensive yet easy-to-understand information on overbite and overbite correction. Estimates vary, but it is believed that anything up to 70% of children can have an overbite to some extent.
How do you know if you have an overbite?
This is extremely easy to do and involves a smile and a mirror. Let your mouth relax and let your teeth close naturally – do not force them together. Then either get a hand mirror, or stand very close to a mirror, and smile broadly so that your lips are spread away from your teeth. Look closely, and if your upper teeth extend beyond your lower teeth by more than 3.5mm (you don’t have to be that precise) then your bite alignment is skewed and you have an overbite. If you are not sure, or if you have examined your children’s teeth and are not sure if they have an overbite, we would strongly recommend you get in contact with us here at Metamorphosis and book a consultation. It is never too late to deal with an overbite, but the earlier the better goes without saying.
Problems caused by an overbite
Mild overbite is not a major problem, though it is very much a condition that requires treatment from an experienced and specialist orthodontist. If left untreated, overbite can lead to problems with eating, problems breathing, tooth decay and even speech difficulties.
How easy is an overbite correction?
If you have concerns about an overbite, the first thing you need to do is book a consultation with a one of our qualified orthodontists. After an examination we will be able to prepare a plan of action for treatment. Correction of an overbite takes place over an extended period of time, and correction is easier in children as the jawbone is still developing.
For young children, early intervention for overbite correction is important as this can reduce the likelihood of lengthy treatment. With young children treatment may only require the fitting of an appliance to help steer their developing jaws in the right direction. This is usually used in conjunction with the fitting of a brace later on in the treatment.
In older patients, initial treatment may usually involve the fitting of a brace to help straighten teeth. Once the teeth have been straightened, treatment may then extend to moving the lower teeth forward or the upper teeth backward to achieve perfect overbite correction. Such a treatment can take up to two years to complete the correction, though occasionally longer if the overbite is severe.
For peace of mind and to ensure yours or the teeth of your children receive the best treatment at a crucial stage of their development, please book an appointment with us and we will be happy to advise you on whether an overbite correction will be necessary.
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