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Buck teeth are protruding front teeth. They’re caused by a malocclusion, or bad bite, that prevents the top and bottom front teeth from making proper contact.
Most people today have top front teeth that overlap the bottom ones slightly.1 But buck teeth are protruding teeth that stick out in front of the bottom lip.
A severe overbite may affect more than a person’s appearance. It can also pose an injury risk and affect overall oral health. In milder cases, however, people may choose not to get any treatment.
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Not all buck or protruding teeth pose a problem for people. If the upper front teeth only protrude slightly, they may not be a cause for concern.
However, some severe cases (and even moderate cases) of buck teeth can eventually lead to health concerns.
Not only can protruding teeth cause someone to feel self-conscious—they can also cause problems such as:
Some people opt to keep their buck teeth. Their teeth may not cause them any issue. Others may not like the way their teeth affect their appearance, or they may experience oral health issues.
Deciding whether or not to fix an overbite or overjet may depend on:
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Buck teeth are a common dental concern. Orthodontic treatment can address them just like any other misaligned teeth.
What exactly your treatment will look like will depend on your specific situation. A complete orthodontic treatment plan may include more than one method.
Common devices and procedures for straightening teeth and jaws include:
Braces are the best-known and most widely used form of orthodontic treatment. They’re made of wires and brackets that apply a certain amount of pressure to each tooth. Over time, this pressure brings the teeth into alignment.
There are several different types of conventional braces:
Treatment with braces takes about 2 years on average but may take longer or shorter depending on your specific needs. More severe tooth and jaw misalignments may need braces combined with orthodontic headgear.
Clear aligners are an increasingly popular alternative to braces. They’re made of clear, durable plastic, shifting teeth into alignment without brackets or wires.
More severe alignment issues may require braces. But for many cases, especially mild to moderate ones, clear aligners can be an effective form of orthodontic treatment.
Palatal expanders apply pressure over time to widen the palate. This can improve tooth and jaw alignment. Palate expanders generally use turnscrews or springs to create pressure.
Children may wear a palate expander for 3 to 6 months before having braces placed.
In some cases, buck teeth are the result of dental crowding. The jaw doesn’t have adequate space for all of the teeth, leading the front teeth to be pushed forward.
Dentists sometimes extract one or more teeth to help relieve crowding, usually premolars.
Like palate expansion, tooth extractions for crowding are typically done to prepare for braces. Once there is more room in the mouth, orthodontic treatment can do the rest.
Jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, can also be a part of treatment for buck teeth. This may be necessary if you have an underlying jaw misalignment, especially as an adult.
Children and teens can often have their jaw growth directed optimally by palate expanders and orthodontic headgear. But for adults, who are already fully grown, surgery is often required to correct misaligned jaws.
Childhood habits can have a significant impact on future permanent tooth alignment. While there’s no way to guarantee a child will have “perfect teeth,” you can help them end habits like thumb sucking and tongue thrusting by:
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There are several possible causes of buck teeth:
Buck teeth are often the result of childhood habits such as:
All of these habits vary in how severe their consequences are. Generally, the longer a child goes without breaking the habit, the more it will eventually affect the alignment of their teeth.
Having extra teeth in your mouth without adequate space can cause dental crowding. Your front teeth may be pushed forward as a result. In such a case, buck teeth may be only one aspect of a more extensive teeth alignment issue.
Similar to crowded teeth, having teeth missing can also cause misalignment. Rather than having too little space, the teeth may have excess space, allowing them to drift out of alignment.
Teeth alignment can also be affected by specific genes. Your protruding teeth may be completely or partly hereditary. Overbites, underbites, and many other dental malocclusions can be passed down over generations.
Other causes of protruding front teeth may include:
Buck teeth can refer to both overbites and overjets. Both may be casually called an overbite, but they differ in the direction the teeth stick out.
An overbite means the top front teeth come down further over the bottom teeth than they should. With an overjet, the top teeth come further forward rather than down. In both cases, the top front teeth will tend to stand out.
Buck teeth, or protruding front teeth, are a common dental issue. Many people have an overbite or overjet that causes their top front teeth to stick out.
A slight overbite may not cause a person any trouble or pose significant health risks. But moderate to severe cases can cause difficulty with oral hygiene, speech, and other activities.
If you or your child have buck teeth and want to treat them, some orthodontic treatment is generally necessary. Talk to your dentist about your options.
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