An overbite is one of the three malocclusions (underbite, overbite, crossbite) that can lead to problems with chewing and headaches and can degenerate to create additional health issues if left untreated.
There are also psychological problems that can develop in people with an overbite. People, especially adults, with overbites are far less likely to smile, and they suffer from lower self-esteem. Correcting an overbite gives a more uniform appearance to face and allows the individual feel more comfortable while smiling and eating.
The treatment process for adults is not unlike that for a child and will need to be done over a period of time—months, and in some cases may take one or more years.
There are two causes that create an overbite:
• Skeletal where the bone causes the upper jaw to extend over the lower jaw, leading a misalignment of the teeth, and
• Dental caused by the patient’s abnormal mastication behavior, or by the teeth being too large for the space they’re meant to inhabit.
In mild cases there are several options for correcting this misalignment, but all will involve a form of treatment combined with braces.
Elastics and Spring Loaded Bite Correctors
Elastics or rubber bands placed on hooks present on the braces help to slow down bone growth in younger adults, or help to move the teeth back into a more aesthetically pleasing, chewing position in older adults. These along with spring loaded bite correctors, will bring the teeth back into alignment with the lower jaw and teeth. This is sometimes employed along with extraction. Extracting unnecessary molars that have caused the teeth to become misaligned can create space for the teeth to fit the jawbone correctly.
In extreme cases Orthognathic surgery may be the only option for correcting the overbite. This is when there is a skeletal misalignment caused by the bones of the upper and lower jaw having grown at different rates or lengths. This is a hereditary issue that can be exacerbated by allowing a child to suck their thumb or a pacifier for extended periods of time.
The surgery is performed to shorten the upper jaw. Sometimes the overbite is caused by the lower the jaw being too short and surgery must be performed to lengthen the bone. It is an invasive surgery, as the bones do have to be exposed; however, if the situation is not dealt with, the overbite can cause more problems as you age.
The benefits of correcting an overbite far outweigh the available treatments and expense. Not only are you healthier, you’re able to smile and feel comfortable about your appearance. People who feel confident are more successful and happier with their lives.
If you’re having problems chewing your food due to an overbite, or if you simply yearn for a more confident smile, consult a dentist to find out what your options are for correcting the issue.