Updated on February 1, 2024
6 min read

Buck Teeth

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What are Buck Teeth (Protruding Teeth)?

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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Do Buck Teeth Affect Your Health?

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:

  • Accidental tongue biting or other injuries 
  • Crowding of the upper teeth
  • General mouth and jaw pain
  • Difficulty cleaning the teeth
  • A speech impediment

Should You Fix Buck Teeth?

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:

  • The severity of the issue
  • Your aesthetic preferences
  • Your budget and access to dental care
  • Whether you have dental insurance coverage

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Treating Buck Teeth 

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

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

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.

Invisalign is the best-known brand of clear aligners and requires regular visits with a licensed dentist or orthodontist. Other brands, such as Byte, offer the convenience of remote checkups instead.

Palate Expanders

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.

Premolar Tooth Extractions

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

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.

Can Buck Teeth Be Prevented? 

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:

  • Praising them for not engaging in the habit
  • Gently reminding them when they do engage in the habit
  • Identifying and anticipating what may be triggering the habit (such as a need for comfort)
  • Working with their dentist or pediatrician

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3 Common Causes of Buck (Protruding) Teeth

There are several possible causes of buck teeth:

1. Childhood Habits

Buck teeth are often the result of childhood habits such as:

  • Thumb sucking — Children tend to stop sucking their thumbs by age 4 naturally. But if a child maintains the habit, it can affect the angle and alignment of their permanent teeth.
  • Pacifier use — Like thumb sucking, prolonged pacifier use can cause a child’s teeth to jut forward over time.
  • Tongue thrusting — Some children habitually push their tongue against their front teeth when they swallow. This can also push their teeth forward.

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.

Mouth breathing is another habit that can significantly affect a person’s teeth and jaws. But the result is usually an open bite rather than an overbite.

2. Extra or Missing 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.

3. Genetics

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

Other causes of protruding front teeth may include:

  • An injury to the mouth or jaw
  • An oral tumor or cyst that puts pressure on your teeth
  • Teeth with an abnormal shape
  • Periodontal disease as a result of bone loss and loss of tooth stability

Overbite vs. Overjet

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.

Summary 

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.

What’s Next?

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Last updated on February 1, 2024
14 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 1, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  11. Daniels, Sheila, et al. “Comparison of surgical and non-surgical orthodontic treatment approaches on occlusal and cephalometric outcomes in patients with Class II Division I malocclusions.” Progress in Orthodontics, 2017.
  12. Burgaz, Merve Altay, et al. “Patient with Severe Skeletal Class II Malocclusion: Double Jaw Surgery with Multipiece Le Fort I.” Turkish Journal of Orthodontics, 2018.
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