What is an Overbite?
Overbite or commonly known as ‘buck teeth’ go by several names, however, ‘pretty’ isn’t on that list. It is when the upper teeth project over the lower teeth. Medically, this is known as ‘malocclusion’. Although it’s pretty common, it isn’t anything close to comfortable.
There can be minor buck teeth with just the front two teeth slightly extending out or major where a portion of the upper teeth protrudes over the lower lips even. In some cases, persons with overbite will not be able to close their lips.
Different kinds of overbites
When the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth significantly
Horizontal overbite (overjet)
When the top teeth extend (point outward) over the lower teeth
Although patients are diagnosed as horizontal or vertical, there are some people who display signs of both types.
Furthermore, overbites can be classified into:
- Dental overbites – Teeth are causing the overbite to occur
- Skeletal overbite – Jaw is the reason or the overbite to be created
How is an overbite caused?
A fairly common cause of overbite is the size and/or shape of the teeth or jaw. This could mean having very little room in the mouth to accommodate one’s teeth size or having too much room in the jaw area. If an overbite in left untreated, it will manifest into crowding of teeth, teeth growing in a crooked manner (less room) or large spaces between teeth (too much room).
In infants and children, few habits like consistent and continued pacifier use, thumb-sucking and overusing a bottle cause the tongue to put pressure on the back of the teeth, which leads to buck teeth.
In teens and adults, chewing on writing instruments like pencils, pens etc. chronic nail-biting result in an overbite.
Other causes for an overbite are:
- Grinding teeth
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
Why are buck teeth a problem?
Besides being a cosmetic concern, there are few more health implications.
- Speech impediments – Due to the relationship between the lips and upper teeth impacted by overbite, speech is affected. Few letters will be difficult to pronounce like S, SH, F, M, P, B, TH and V.
- Chewing deficiencies – When teeth do not form a proper bite, the efficiency to chew is decreased. Food can also not be broken down properly.
- Airway concerns – The cause of buck teeth have an impact on the airway – small jaw size means small airway and small airway leads to problems breathing problems, snoring, disordered sleep, etc. which have an impact on the quality of life.
Treating an overbite and correcting it
A patient with an overbite will be referred by a dentist to an orthodontist for treatment. An overbite in children is easier to treat as the jaw is still in the developmental stage and a common cause is overcrowding.
For adults, because treatment wasn’t taken in the early stages, the symptoms can be more severe.
In both cases, an examination will be conducted by the dentist or orthodontist and they will come up with a treatment plan which can last from 6 months to anywhere up to few years. The best treatment plan will be determined with the help of x-rays which display the type of overbite and the relationship amid the teeth and jaw.
Below are some treatments that can be recommended:
In children and teens:
- Remove baby teeth
- Growth modification device
- Teeth removal
Make an appointment with your dentist today and get your overbite checked out. It’s time to bid farewell to buck teeth!