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What Can I Do About My Overbite?
Posted on 09/18/2015

What Can I Do About My Overbite?

8f5d8b9cd072546dc234368908d278b2One of the most common reasons that people seek treatment with an orthodontist is the presence of an overbite. An overbite is most commonly described as a condition where the upper front teeth are significantly forward (or, in front) of the lower front teeth. A significant overbite can lead to an increased likelihood of trauma to the upper front teeth from a fall or injury, and/or difficulty with eating.

What Caused the Overbite?

Factors contributing to the presence of an overbite can include: thumb sucking, nail biting, lip biting, trouble breathing though the nose, a deep bite (too much overlap of the front teeth in an up and down direction), heredity, and more.

Most importantly, the orthodontist must investigate the underlying causes of each individual overbite so that the best possible solution can be planned. In a growing patient there are many options to help fix an overbite. Different appliances are available to address the variety of underlying causes.

Correcting Bad Habits

Habits are extremely important to address early, sometimes before any baby teeth have fallen out. Your orthodontist will generally have a few tricks up his sleeve to address habits like thumb sucking and/or nail and lip biting that can contribute to significant overbites. These tricks may involve appliances, exercises and motivational discussions. When the habit ceases, most overbites undergo some form of self-correction. In some cases, the self-correction is not enough to prevent possible injury to the front teeth. Limited braces or treatment with retainers can be very successful in minimizing the overbite at an early age.

Jaw Growth Changes

When the lower jaw does not grow as far forward as the upper jaw in a front to back direction, an overbite can be the result. In this case, different appliances can be used either to stimulate more lower jaw growth or attempt restriction of upper jaw growth in a front-to-back direction. These appliances can either be removable (like a headgear) or semi-permanent (cemented on the teeth like braces) to aid in the proper type of jaw development.

It is extremely important to attempt these changes during and around times of growth spurts. The goal is to capture as much growth as possible so that the jaw position can be modified properly. Many times, the orthodontist will begin this type of treatment before all of the baby teeth have fallen out. Once the jaw position is aligned, braces treatment can usually begin soon after. Treatment time with braces on is usually reduced if jaw growth is corrected first.

Correction of major bite problems can be accomplished effectively and with relative ease in most cases if dealt with at the proper time in growth and development. Remember, it is always best to get an evaluation and gather as much information as possible regarding treatment timing and types of treatment available. And, like I always say, ask questions! The more you understand the information being presented to you, the better you will feel about the decisions you will make.

Dr. Michael Feinberg is an orthodontist with Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, with two office locations in Scottsdale. He is a member of the American Association of Orthodontics and prior to moving to the Valley was part time faculty in the Department of Orthodontics at the University of California at San Francisco.