Teeth are the important part of the mouth since they help in chewing of the food. A normal human has 32 teeth. Normal tooth eruption occurs by six months of age and they fully develop by 13 years. Generally, the upper teeth are parallel to the lower teeth. However, at times there are abnormalities observed in this normal development in form of crowded teeth, crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, crossbite, openbite and disorders of the jaw. Most of these problems can be corrected. If these are not treated then they cause tooth decay, gum disease, problems while chewing and speaking.
What is an Overbite?
Overbite is a condition where the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth. The upper teeth do not align over the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. It is common and is not always a bad thing. It is also called as 'Bucktooth'.
The extent of overbite is expressed in percentage. The percentage of the lower teeth covered by the upper front teeth. The ideal overbite ranges from 5-25%. Normal overbite ranges from 1-2 mm. When it is more than 4 mm, it leads to an excessively large overbite and is called as a deep overbite. This condition pushes the lower jaw further back than it is supposed to be present. It causes health problems such as life-long jaw pain, headaches, clenching of teeth and aesthetic concerns such as shortened (rounded) appearance of the face.
Types of Overbite
There are two types of overbite:
- Vertical Overbite. The upper jawline overlaps the lower jawline in a vertical direction.
- Horizontal Overbite. It is also called as Overjet. In this case, the upper teeth protrude excessively or they stick out over the lower teeth.
What are the Causes of Overbite?
Overbite is caused either due to the over development of the upper jaw or the underdevelopment of the lower jaw. The following are some of the reasons:
- Genetics or hereditary factors. It is yet to be understood how it causes malocculsions such as overbites.
- The wrong habits result in uneven growth of the teeth
- Habits such as thumb sucking or thumb thrusting can result in an overbite. The thumb pushes the upper teeth and its jaw, forward of the lower teeth. This results in the upper jaw to protrude ahead of the lower jaw.
- Excessive usage of feeding bottles or pacifiers.
- Nail biting.
Problems Caused By an Overbite
- There is change in facial appearance Due to Overbite
- Due to the pressure, the lower teeth experience trauma
- Discomfort while biting and chewing is also a problem caused by on overbite
- Teeth grinding and teeth clenching
- Overbites cause periodontal problems such as increased wear and tear of tooth enamel, tooth decay and speech problems.
- Overbite can cause respiratory problems
Presence of overbite, result in development of inferiority complex and lead to loss of self confidence.
Diagnosis of Overbite
The dentist performs physical examination of the teeth and records medical history.
Special dental X-rays are taken to get the teeth expressions and the problem is examined.
Treatment of Overbite
The problem of overbite can be treated in children with 10-14 years of age as compared to the adults. The following are the different types of treatment options available:
- Tooth extraction
- Jaw Surgery
Complex cases of overbite require a number of methods to treat them.
The aim of the braces is to align the teeth properly. A complex wiring and bracket system are used to correct the misaligned teeth. The dentist will create custom made braces according to the patient's teeth.
Braces are generally used for a short period of time of two years. In the first stage the braces used help to level and align the teeth. While in the second stage, the overbite is pushed back while bottom teeth are brought in front. Thus, the entire set of teeth gets properly aligned. Use of braces has been successful in treating overbite.
This is done when there is overcrowding of the teeth. The extra teeth are removed to make proper space which helps in correct alignment of the teeth.
- This is a relatively new and an easy treatment strategy. It comprises use of a transparent retainer. It is modern type of braces which features a plastic cup system custom made to fit the patient's teeth. They are aesthetically pleasing then the traditional braces. Invisalign keeps the teeth fixed in a position that can ultimately fix their alignment. The patient has to wear these aligners for 22 hours/day. These are to be changed once in 2 weeks and the patient has to wear a new one. This treatment for overbite lasts for a year. It helps to align the dental line in case of the mild case of overbite. However, severe cases of overbite cannot be effectively treated using invisalign.
- Retainers, jaw expanders and other orthodontic devices are also used especially in case of the skeletal overbites.
It is done in case of adults to correct overbite of skeletal nature. The surgical procedure helps in repositioning of the entire jaw. Among all the procedures, surgery is the most efficient and the fastest way to correct overbite. However, it has one major disadvantage that it is expensive method of treating overbite.
Prevention of Overbite
The only way to prevent overbites is that parents need to be careful of their child's habits when they are growing. They should ensure that children do not take up the damaging habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting and use of pacifiers.
Today dental care services have improved tremendously. There are a variety of treatments available for overbite and other dental problems. However, one needs to get the right type of treatment for overbite from the right orthodontist.