What Is An Overbite and Do I Have One?



Most people have front teeth that slightly overlap their lower teeth when their jaws are shut and while that’s technically an overbite, it’s also the ideal alignment and not any cause for concern. There are different kinds of overbite, however, with some that would definitely benefit from dental intervention. But what exactly is an overbite and what should you do if you have one? If you’re worried about whether you have an overbite and what possible treatment options there are, you can find out all about it below.

What Does An Overbite Look Like?

An overbite is a type of malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth. Someone with an overbite will have their front teeth protruding or significantly overshooting their bottom teeth or jaw. Severe cases can result in the “buck tooth” look where the two front teeth actually overhang the bottom lip. Thankfully, it’s usually straightforward to correct an overbite at any age, although intervention in childhood is much easier than dental work that starts in adulthood.

Main Types of Overbite

Overbites can occur for a variety of reasons such as habits started in infancy, genetics or several things connected with your teeth, jaw and muscles. In general, the main types of overbite can be assigned as either a skeletal overbite or a dental overbite.

Skeletal Overbite

A skeletal overbite is when your jaw is causing the issues. Usually, it means that your lower jaw is smaller than your upper jaw, meaning the upper teeth are pushed forward, out of natural alignment. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, this is the most common reason for an overbite. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the issue as well as orthodontic treatments such as braces.

Dental Overbite

A dental overbite is when your teeth are causing the issue. Even from early childhood, bad oral habits can impact your teeth alignment. Things like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and overuse of a pacifier can affect the way teeth grow and other factors such as tooth loss, nail biting, bruxism or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders as an adult can also create an overbite.

Can An Overbite be Fixed?

Yes! Overbites are extremely common, with the American Dental Association stating that 70% of children show signs of developing them. The most effective treatment is early orthodontic intervention.

For children and teenagers, braces are the most common treatment, with some tooth extractions if necessary. After the treatment plan is completed, aligners or retainers are used to keep the top teeth in their new positions.

For adults, it can be more difficult to treat severe overbites, and sometimes surgery may be necessary on the jaw. Otherwise, similar treatment with braces and retainers will bring the front teeth back into alignment.

What If I Leave My Overbite As It Is?

If you don’t think your overbite is that bad, you may be tempted to just leave it as it is and not worry about getting it corrected. If your regular bite is fine, with your back teeth meeting correctly, you don’t always need to have your overbite corrected. However, there are several reasons for getting treatment for it:

  • Aesthetically, an overbite may cause you to feel self-conscious which can have knock-on repercussions on your mental health.
  • Untreated overbites can cause you to grind your teeth, leading to an increase in the risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Severe overbites can cause wear on your gums, leading to gum recession and periodontal disease.
  • You may develop jaw issues such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder which can cause pain and affect the way you speak and eat.
  • It can affect your sleep by causing sleep apnea due to your lower jaw being further back in your mouth. A lack of restful sleep will have negative impacts on your overall health.

If you’re worried you have an overbite or you just want straighter front teeth, call your dentist for a professional opinion. Patients in Missoula, MT and surrounding areas can get expert dental care in a welcoming atmosphere from Discovery Dental Group.