Orthodontic Treatments for Overbites (Overjet): Which Option is Best?
What Is an Overbite?
An overbite is a dental condition where the upper front teeth overlap significantly with the lower front teeth when you close your mouth. It’s sometimes referred to as “buck teeth” and can make your smile look unbalanced.
While a healthy smile includes a slight vertical overlap of the front teeth, a person with an overbite will have a considerable distance between upper teeth and lower teeth, giving the upper teeth the appearance of “sticking out” or protruding. In orthodontics, this type of overbite is also called an overjet.
The Effects of an Overbite
An overbite or overjet can affect different patients in different ways. Here are some common physical and emotional effects of having an overbite:
Physical Effects: Because the teeth are misaligned with an overbite, over a prolonged period of time that misalignment can cause a misalignment of the jaw as well, leading to jaw pain, headaches, and sometimes difficulty chewing. An overbite can also affect speech and its aesthetics. Patients may also grind their teeth, resulting in excessive wear and increased risk of tooth decay.
Emotional: An overbite can impact a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Some people may feel embarrassed about their smile, avoiding social situations or speaking in public.
What Causes an Overbite?
Following are some of the factors that can contribute to the development of an overbite, including:
Genetics: In most cases, overbite is inherited through genetics. If one or both parents have an overbite, their children may also develop the condition.
Thumb Sucking or Pacifier Use: The habit of thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers, especially after the age of 3, can sometimes result in overbite conditions. At this age, children not only suck pacifiers with more force but also sometimes sleep with the pacifier in their mouth. This means that pressure on the teeth is exerted the whole night, causing the teeth to develop in an overbite position.
Jaw Alignment Issues: If one of the patient’s jaws is too large or too small, it can also result in upper teeth appearing to protrude over lower teeth.
Malocclusion: Malocclusion refers to any type of misalignment of the teeth, such as crowding or spacing issues. Some malocclusions can contribute to the development of an overbite.
Injuries or Trauma: In some cases, trauma or injury can result in overbite conditions. The teeth and/or jaws may shift, creating an overbite. It’s important to get the correct care, which may include orthodontic care, after an injury to the teeth or jaws.
Types of an Overbite
The various types of overbite issue come down to one of two things: problems with the teeth, or with the jaws. Sometimes, a patient will need treatment for both. Basically, there are two kinds of overbites – overbites in which only the teeth are misaligned, and overbites in which the jaws are misaligned.
Dental Overbite: As the name suggests, in a dental overbite, the issue is with the teeth and not with the jaws. The upper teeth protrude over the lower teeth. Symptoms of a dental overbite include visible protrusion of the upper teeth and teeth that appear to be too long.
Skeletal Overbite: When the jaws rather than the teeth are in need of treatment, the condition is called a skeletal overbite. Symptoms of a skeletal overbite can include visible protrusion of the upper teeth, difficulty in closing the lips completely, jaw pain or discomfort, and speech difficulties.
Treatment Options for Dental Overbites
1. Braces with Elastics
Braces are one of the most common orthodontic treatments for correcting dental overbites. They consist of metal brackets that are attached to the teeth and connected by wires. The wires are gradually tightened to apply pressure to the teeth, moving them into the correct position.
Braces are a good option for correcting dental overbites because they can effectively move teeth into the correct position.
When Braces are Preferable
- Braces are often used when the overbite is due to misalignment or overcrowding of teeth.
- Braces can also help correct other dental issues, such as crooked teeth, gaps between teeth, and other malocclusions (bad bites).
Types of Braces
There are different types of braces available, including:
Traditional metal braces: These are the most common type of braces and consist of metal brackets and wires that are visible on the teeth.
Ceramic braces: These are similar to traditional braces but have tooth-coloured or clear braces and are less noticeable on the teeth.
Lingual braces: These are attached to the back of the teeth, making them virtually invisible from the front.
Limitations of Braces for Overbites
Does Not Correct Issues with the Jaws: The most important limitation of braces is that they do not correct skeletal overbites; braces are primarily used to treat dental overbites.
Severely Misaligned Teeth: Braces may not be able to correct severe cases of overbite caused by severely misaligned teeth, and other orthodontic appliances or jaw surgery for overbite may be necessary to correct the issue.
Compliance: The success of braces in correcting an overbite largely depends on the patient’s compliance with treatment. If the patient does not follow the orthodontist’s instructions for wearing and caring for the braces, treatment may take longer than expected or may not be successful.
Length of Treatment: Treatment with braces for overbite can take several years, depending on the severity of the issue. This can be a limitation for patients who are looking for a faster solution.
Discomfort and Inconvenience: Braces can be uncomfortable, and some patients may experience difficulty eating and speaking normally while undergoing treatment. Additionally, regular adjustments and maintenance appointments can be inconvenient and time-consuming.
Cost: Braces can be expensive, and the cost may not be covered by insurance in some cases. This can be a limitation for patients who are unable to afford the treatment.
2. Invisalign with Elastics
Invisalign for overbite is a popular alternative to traditional metal braces. It consists of a series of clear plastic trays that are custom-made to fit over the patient’s teeth. The trays apply gentle pressure to the teeth, gradually moving them into the correct position.
Invisalign is a good option for dental overbites, but will usually not be used to correct skeletal overbites or other more complex issues.
Invisalign is often preferred by patients who want a more discreet orthodontic treatment. The clear trays are virtually invisible on the teeth, making them a popular choice for adults and teenagers who may feel self-conscious about traditional metal braces.
The process of getting Invisalign involves a consultation with an orthodontist, who will create a treatment plan and determine if Invisalign is a good option for the patient’s specific case. The patient will then receive a series of custom-made trays, which they will wear for about two weeks before moving on to the next set. The number of trays required will depend on the severity of the overbite and other factors such as tooth and jaw development.
Invisalign has several advantages over traditional braces, including:
- Discreet Appearance: The clear trays are virtually invisible on the teeth, making them a popular choice for adults and teenagers.
- Removable: Invisalign trays are removable, allowing for easier brushing and flossing, and the ability to eat and drink without restrictions.
- Comfort: The smooth plastic material of Invisalign trays can be more comfortable than the metal brackets and wires of traditional braces.
Limitations of Invisalign
Invisalign may not be suitable for more severe cases of overbite or other dental issues that require more complex treatment. In such cases, traditional braces or jaw surgery may be necessary.
Treatment Options for Skeletal Overbites
1. Orthodontic Surgery
Orthodontic surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a treatment option for skeletal overbites in adults. A skeletal overbite occurs when the upper jaw is significantly larger than the lower jaw, resulting in a protruding upper jaw and a receding lower jaw. Orthodontic surgery is typically recommended for adults only, because their facial bone structures have finished growing.
What Happens During Surgery?
During the surgery, the upper or lower jaw (or both) will be repositioned to correct the overbite. The procedure is typically performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in collaboration with an orthodontist.
Before the surgery, the patient undergoes orthodontic treatment to prepare their teeth for the jaw repositioning. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, and involves making incisions in the gums and bone to access the jaw. The jaw is then repositioned and held in place with plates and screws.
Orthodontic surgery is used primarily for skeletal overbites, but may also be used for severe dental overbites. For dental overbites, the surgery may involve extracting teeth or repositioning them to correct the bite.
2. Palatal Expanders
Palatal expanders, also known as palate expanders, are a type of orthodontic appliance that can be used to treat skeletal overbites in children. They are typically recommended when the overbite is caused by a narrow upper jaw, which can result in overcrowding of the teeth and a protruding upper jaw.
Plate expanders work by applying gradual pressure to the upper jaw, widening it over time. The device consists of a metal frame that is attached to the upper molars and connected to a screw in the middle. The screw can be adjusted by the orthodontist to gradually widen the frame and the upper jaw.
Palatal expanders are typically used in younger patients, as the jaw is more malleable in children and adolescents. The treatment typically lasts several months and requires regular visits to the orthodontist for adjustments. After the desired expansion is achieved, the appliance is typically worn for several months to stabilize the widened jaw.
Palate expanders can also be used to treat dental overbites caused by overcrowding. The palate expanders create more space for the teeth to align properly.
The device can cause some discomfort or soreness during the adjustment period. In some cases, the expansion may not be sufficient to fully correct the overbite, and additional orthodontic treatment or surgery may be necessary.
3. Growth Modification Devices
Growth modification devices are a type of orthodontic treatment used to correct skeletal overbites in younger patients who are still experiencing growth. They are typically recommended when the overbite is caused by uneven growth of the upper and lower jaws.
These devices work by applying pressure to the teeth and jaw in a way that encourages the jaw to grow in a more favourable position. They can include headgear, functional appliances (Herbst, Twin Block, Bionator, Frankel II, and Carriere are all examples of functional appliances), and chin caps.
Headgear is a device that is worn outside the mouth and applies pressure to the upper jaw, typically for several hours each day. Functional appliances are worn in the mouth, and can encourage the lower jaw to grow in a more favourable position. Chin caps are also worn in the mouth, and apply pressure to the lower jaw, encouraging it to grow forward.
Growth modification devices like these are typically used in younger patients, as their jaws are still growing and more responsive to these types of treatments. Treatment can last several years and require regular visits to the orthodontist for adjustments.
Contact Family Braces in Calgary for Help!
For the a comprehensive overbite diagnosis and treatment, contact Family Braces today! We offer personalized orthodontic care for patients in the Calgary area and beyond. Our team of experienced orthodontists is here to help you achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and take the first step towards a healthier and more confident you.