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An excessive overbite occurs when someone’s upper teeth protrude too far over their lower teeth.
It’s common for the upper front teeth to slightly overlap the bottom ones. But when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than 30-50%, this is considered a malocclusion (misalignment).
Technically, an overbite refers to the vertical position of the top teeth. But it’s also possible for the top front teeth to come too far forward. This is called an overjet but may also be referred to as a horizontal overbite.
Both conditions may be referred to as “buck teeth,” and both are considered Class II malocclusions.
Vertical overbites can be identified as either dental or skeletal, depending on the cause.
An excessive dental overbite can form due to childhood habits that involve pushing the tongue against the back of the teeth. This is also a common cause of excessive overjet.
An excessive skeletal overbite is caused by irregularly shaped jaws and/or teeth and is typically genetic. Some people are born with malformed jaws that develop unevenly.
Clear aligners can save you thousands of dollars compared to braces. Learn about clear aligners.
Overbites and overjets are commonly caused by habits during infancy or childhood that create pressure against the back of the teeth. These habits may include:
An overbite could also be caused or worsened during adolescence by habits such as:
Other causes or complicating factors may include:
Note that multiple factors can contribute to an excessive overbite. There may also be an underlying genetic cause for an abnormal bite or jaw shape/size.
Leaving an overbite or overjet untreated may increase the risk of further problems, such as:
The nature and severity of these complications will depend on the cause and extent of the overbite. They can be prevented by treating the overbite as soon as possible. Treatment options include braces, clear aligners, and corrective surgery.
We recommend at-home clear aligners if you have mild teeth misalignment. View our top recommendations.
There are several orthodontic treatment options available:
Tooth extraction may be recommended for young children with overbites. Removing teeth creates room for the rest of the teeth to grow in straight.
This option is generally intended for baby teeth. Adults with overbites may not need to have any permanent teeth removed unless the problem is severe.
Braces are a popular treatment option for correcting an overbite. Braces put pressure on the teeth to bring them into proper alignment using a combination of brackets, wires, and elastic bands.
It will take at least a few months for braces to fully correct the position of the teeth.
The entire process of overbite correction with braces may take 6 months to 2 years. After the braces treatment is complete, a patient must wear a retainer or use a permanent wire to keep the teeth in place.
Most people who undergo overbite correction with braces are children and teenagers. However, traditional braces are used for adults too.
However, if part of the reason for the overbite is an issue with jaw alignment, children and teenagers may need additional treatment, such as orthodontic headgear. For adults, jaw surgery may be necessary.
The cost of braces usually depends on the type, treatment time, and the patient’s needs.
Dental insurance coverage for orthodontic braces is required for children in certain states. However, insurance may only cover some of the fees for adults.
Coverage doesn’t consider whether the need for braces is for aesthetics or not. Most insurance companies cover treatment if the plan includes orthodontic benefits. However, they won’t pay for braces treatment if the coverage doesn’t have orthodontic benefits.
Clear aligners are plastic trays that work similarly to braces, applying constant pressure to the teeth. This pressure gradually moves the teeth into a better position. Clear aligners can help mild to moderate overbites.
People using clear aligners must wear them for at least 22 hours a day. They must also be worn while sleeping. They can only be removed for eating and oral health practices like brushing and flossing.
Patients receive new sets of aligner trays every few weeks. Each tray is worn for around two weeks to shift the teeth slightly. After two weeks, patients must switch to the next tray in the treatment.
The entire procedure can involve up to 26 trays, depending on the severity of the overbite. This would include one tray every two weeks for 12 months.
The cost of aligners depends on the brand chosen, treatment time, and how many trays are required. Many companies offer a payment plan option. This treatment plan allows patients to pay a deposit, followed by smaller monthly payments.
Byte offers a more affordable option. These aligners cost $1,895 if paid in full. Byte does not use direct dentist supervision, so it is not recommended for complex orthodontic cases like severe overbites.
Your dental insurance may offer at least partial coverage for clear aligners. If you have dental insurance, look at your current plan to determine coverage.
Interested in straightening your teeth at home? Here are the best clear aligner companies.
For treatment of an excessive overbite to be fully effective, braces may need to be combined with functional appliances. These devices exert pressure to bring the upper and lower jaw into alignment, just like braces do with teeth.
The Herbst appliance is one common appliance used to treat issues with overbite or overjet. It’s attached inside the mouth to bring the lower jaw forward.
Orthodontic headgear may also be used. This would be cervical pull headgear for overbites and overjets (class II misalignments). Cervical pull headgear holds the upper jaw and teeth in place to allow space for the lower jaw to grow.
Headgear or other functional appliance treatment may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $9,000. Since these devices are combined with braces, they may be an additional cost.
However, this treatment is likely covered by insurance if it’s considered medically necessary. Check with your insurance provider to know for sure what they’ll cover.
If there’s a skeletal overbite, some extreme cases may require orthognathic surgery. This surgery is intended to reposition the jaw when other orthodontic treatments can’t.
Orthognathic surgery corrects the relationship between the upper and lower jawbones, allowing them to function better for eating, breathing, and talking. These corrections may also improve facial appearance.
Severe overbite correction surgery is often for adults only. This is because their jaws are no longer developing or as flexible as children's.
For the same reason, jaw surgery is not usually recommended for females under 16 years old or males under 21. Orthodontic appliances will probably be recommended if the jaw is still growing.
In most cases of severe overbite surgery, patients wear braces on their teeth before and after the procedure. These braces cannot be removed until healing and alignment are complete.
Typically, an orthodontist works with an oral, jaw, and face (maxillofacial) surgeon for treatment.
Jaw surgery costs usually range between $20,000 to $40,000. Surgery for temporomandibular joint dysfunction can cost up to $50,000.
Patients with health insurance may have orthognathic surgery covered in some cases. Some insurance companies determine jaw surgeries to be medically necessary if the skeletal issues lead to sleep apnea, breathing difficulties, or severe speech impediments.
Jaw surgery is cosmetic if the orthognathic surgery only improves facial appearance or isn’t medically urgent.
Check with your provider to know what your insurance will and won’t cover.
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