If you’ve been told you have an overbite, you may be wondering what it means. That’s what we’re going to find out in this article, as well as exploring what treatment is available.
Rest assured that it is something your dentist can help you with. Let’s find out more.
What is an overbite?
An overbite is a problem with the way your teeth are aligned. It happens when your upper teeth stick out beyond your bottom front teeth.
It’s actually very common — lots of people have a slight overbite that doesn’t cause any problems.
However, if your overbite is more severe, you may be affected by:
- Difficulty or pain when chewing food
- Gum disease
- Jaw pain or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Tooth decay
- Difficulty with speaking or breathing
What causes an overbite?
Your overbite may be hereditary, which means there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.
Sometimes an overbite may be caused by:
- Sucking your thumb
- Nail biting
- Pressing your tongue too far forward in the mouth
- Prolonged use of a dummy (pacifier)
How can my dentist help?
Your dentist is a skilled professional who will be able to identify overbite symptoms and treatment when they examine you at your regular checkup. They may take x-rays to know more about the issue and help them decide what treatment to offer.
Overbite treatment will depend on the patient’s life stage. If they are a child, it could include:
- Devices to extend the palate (the roof of the mouth)
- Removal of baby teeth to make room for the permanent teeth
- Braces to straighten the teeth
- Retainers to keep the teeth in position after straightening
For adults, treatment may take the form of:
- Braces to straighten the affected teeth
- Removal of teeth to make more room in the jaw
- Surgery to correct the alignment of the jaw
Can an overbite be prevented?
Some cases of overbite are inherited and simply can’t be prevented. But if you have a young child, you can help prevent overbite by:
- Avoiding giving them cups with spill-proof valves (‘sippy cups’)
- Helping them to avoid or give up thumb-sucking
- Avoiding using dummies/pacifiers, especially after the age of 3
- Making sure they visit the dentist for the first time around their first birthday to pick up any issues early on
What else should I know about overbite?
If you have an overbite and are waiting for treatment, you should pay special attention to your dental health. You can do this by:
- Keeping your teeth, mouth and gums clean
- Using a night guard if you thrust your tongue or grind your teeth when you’re asleep
- Using a mouthguard if you practise contact sports
- Visiting your dentist for regular checkups
Worried about overbite?
Here at Opal Dental, we are dedicated to all aspects of your dental care. This includes checking for overbite and advising you on treatment options if you have one.
If you’re worried that you or your child may have an overbite, make an appointment for a checkup with us. Our dental health professionals will be happy to give advice and offer a way forward for your or your child’s overbite.
We love nothing better than seeing our patients go away with a smile on their face, so pick up the phone today!