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What is an Overbite?

A dental overbite is a type of misalignment or malocclusion where the upper teeth sit over the lower teeth because the upper jaw sticks out further than the lower jaw. Due to the misaligned jaw, a severe overbite can cause some jaw pain and jaw problems, and it can take a toll on your oral health. 

overbite

You may also have an underbite, which occurs when the bottom teeth stick out over the top teeth. Or you could have an open bite, which happens when the top teeth and bottom teeth don’t touch at all. 

underbite

Fortunately, orthodontic treatment is available to correct your jawline and relieve any overbite problems.

What Causes an Overbite?

Overbites are a common dentistry issue, and yours might just be part of your genetics. The most common cause of an overbite is the shape and size of the jawbone or teeth. If you have too much room in your jaw, your teeth could easily shift. If you don’t have enough room in your jaw, your teeth could become crowded and grow crooked.


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But overbites can also develop over time. In adults, constant nail biting and chewing on objects like pens, for example, can bring on an overbite. And, in early childhood, thumb-sucking, regular pacifier use, and overuse of bottles for feeding can cause overbites. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) may also be at the root of an overbite.

Whatever the cause, if you leave an overbite untreated, crooked teeth could get worse. Plus, your top teeth could chip away at healthy enamel on your bottom teeth, which could lead to tooth decay over time. Of course, this could create a whole host of issues, from minor cavities and toothaches to gum disease.

Symptoms of an Overbite

The symptoms of overbites can range from uncomfortable to really painful. The longer you leave an overbite without treatment, the worse these symptoms can get:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Teeth that stick out
  • A protruding upper jaw
  • Cavities
  • Toothaches
  • Headaches
  • Discomfort or pain while eating
  • Difficulty talking
  • Trouble fully opening or closing your mouth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gum disease

How to Fix an Overbite: Compare Treatment Options

The good news is that, if you have an overbite, you can fix it. Your orthodontist will take X-rays to help determine the best treatment plan for you. Here are a few options to get started:

Overbite Correction with Braces

Traditional braces can help to shift your teeth and properly straighten them to correct a bad bite and other alignment issues. They consist of small brackets that fix to the teeth and wires and elastic bands that connect to the brackets. The wires gently apply pressure on the teeth, pulling them into the correct position. 

metal braces on teeth

Having traditional braces fitted and wearing them is a lengthy and slow procedure. You may have to wear braces for 12 to 24 months. Then, you may need to wear a retainer for the rest of your life to maintain the braces’ benefits.

Likewise, braces aren’t necessarily cheap. Though the cost of braces widely varies depending on type, you should expect to pay well over $1,000, perhaps even double or triple that.

Overbite Correction with Invisalign (Aligners)

Clear aligners are clear, plastic retainers that fit over the teeth to straighten them out over time. A dental professional will custom make the aligner for you to wear for a few weeks or a month at a time. After the teeth shift in the first phase, you’ll get a new aligner to keep them gradually moving into the correct position.

invisalign aligners

Aligners tend to work faster than braces because they shift all of the teeth together instead of each individual tooth. But aligners are not as effective as braces for severe overbites.

Invisalign is one of the best-known dental brands for clear aligners. You wear aligners every day and night except when eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth for approximately six to 18 months. The cost of Invisalign treatment averages about $5,000, but it varies based on your length of treatment and your case’s complexity.

Clear aligners like Invisalign are removable, and you have to take them out before eating, brushing your teeth, and flossing. You also have to follow your orthodontist or dental professional’s instructions on how long to wear clear aligners each day. Typically clear aligners are worn for 22 hours a day.

Overbite Correction with Surgery

You can also elect to have surgery to fix your overbite. In fact, skeletal-type overbites can only be fixed with surgery. Orthognathic surgery always requires braces, so while the surgery is a one-time deal, the overall treatment is a lengthy process. It’s important to check with your dental insurance provider to determine whether or not corrective surgery for an overbite is covered. While some cosmetic cases may not be covered, other necessary jaw procedures may be. 

Whatever treatment you choose, it’ll take some time before your bite is fixed. It’s important to keep up with your oral hygiene and practice proper dental care to keep your teeth healthy in the meantime. Neglecting your oral health could worsen your condition.

Resources

Auluck, Angela., Lingual orthodontic treatment: what is the current evidence base?, Journal of orthodontics vol. 40 Suppl 1 (2013): S27-33, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24005948/ 

Azaripour, A et al., Braces versus Invisalign®: gingival parameters and patients' satisfaction during treatment: a cross-sectional study., BMC oral health vol. 15 69. 24 Jun. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478712/ 

Braces Have Changed, From Metal to Tooth-Colored to Clear, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), June 2017, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/braces-have-changed-metal-tooth-colored-clear 

Chalipa, Javad et al., Comparison of Bond Strength of Metal and Ceramic Brackets Bonded with Conventional and High-Power LED Light Curing Units., Journal of dentistry (Tehran, Iran) vol. 13,6, 2016, 423-430, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318499/ 

Dental braces and retainers, Health Direct, August 2018, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-braces-and-retainers 

Frequently asked questions, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/frequently-asked-questions 

How much does Invisalign Treatment cost?, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.co.uk/invisalign-cost 

Ke, Yunyan et al., A comparison of treatment effectiveness between clear aligner and fixed appliance therapies., BMC oral health vol. 19,1 24. 23 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6343314/ 

“Malocclusion and Orthodontics.” Cigna, www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/hw/medical-topics/malocclusion-and-orthodontics-tn1000

The Invisalign Difference, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/the-invisalign-difference 

Treatable cases, Invisalign, https://www.invisalign.com/treatable-cases 

“What Is an Overbite and How Is It Corrected?” Westermeier Martin Dental Care, 16 Jan. 2019, wmsmile.com/what-is-an-overbite-and-how-is-it-corrected/

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Updated on: January 4, 2021
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Dr. Lara Coseo
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