There is something very pleasing about a perfectly aligned set of teeth. But not everyone is blessed enough to have a natural smile.

Both kids and adults can suffer from some malocclusion, one of which is an overbite.

It is considered normal if the overbite is in the range of 1-2mm. Problems arise when this overbite becomes deeper than 1-2mm.

How can a slight malocclusion lead to more significant problems? What are these problems? Is it possible to correct these problems? Read on to find out more about overbite and what to do about it.

What is an overbite?

Overbite is a condition in which the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth vertically. It is considered normal if it ranges between 30-50% or between 1-2 mm.

An overbite is considered as a malocclusion when it ranges approximately 4-10mm. It can cause the shape of your face to be short and round. It makes you look older than you are.

A deep overbite is not only unaesthetic, but also causes headaches, joint pain, and excessive teeth grinding.  (1)

Types of overbite

There are two primary types of overbite as skeletal and dental.

Skeletal overbite is seen when the lower jaw is physically too small to fit with the upper jaw. It usually requires a surgical solution to correct it.

Dental overbite is the result of improperly aligned teeth. The upper and lower jaws are correctly balanced with each other. Orthodontic treatment alone can treat dental overbite.

Causes of overbite

The most common cause of a deep overbite is genetics and heredity. The shape and size of the jaws and teeth play a significant role in determining the severity of the malocclusion.

Certain childhood habits exacerbate an overbite, like thumb sucking, prolonged bottle feeding and consistent use of a pacifier.

These habits put pressure on the upper teeth, pushing them forward and put similar pressure on the lower jaw, forcing it backward. (2) (3)

Some habits like nail biting, chewing the pencil’s end, can result in a deep overbite in adults.

Why should you correct an overbite?

If your overbite is slight and doesn’t cause any problem, you can ignore it. But a deep overbite will not correct itself and can cause severe complications if left untreated.

You and your dentist can decide together if you need to correct your overbite. Your dentist can assess your goals and expectations and make you aware of the risks and difficulties involved.

Here are some of the common reasons to correct a deep overbite:

  • The most common reason to correct an overbite is that it’s unaesthetic.
  • A deep overbite causes the upper and lower jaws to protrude and overlap each other. It makes it difficult to clean teeth properly, leading to tooth decay, gum problems and possibly tooth loss. (4)
  • An overbite deepens with time, if not treated at an early age. The abnormal positioning of the teeth causes excessive grinding and clenching forces on the teeth. It results in premature wearing down of teeth, pain in temporomandibular joint and headaches.
  • A severe overbite can cause discomfort or pain while eating, sleep apnea and difficulty in speaking.
  • An untreated overbite makes your face look short and round, which in turn makes you look older than you are. It is not good for your self-esteem. (5)

When is the right time to correct an overbite?

Most orthodontists prefer to treat overbites in children as their jaws are still developing. The treatment is faster and less painful in children and teenagers.

A deep overbite may progress to more severe symptoms in adults. It makes the treatment slower and more painful and can also require surgical correction.

How to correct an overbite?

The treatment options for correcting a deep overbite depend on the severity of the malocclusion, age of the patient and the lifestyle choices of the patient. The process of adjusting an overbite takes a long time, usually several years.

Most cases of overbite are corrected using orthodontic treatment alone. However, in some severe cases, surgery is needed first to fix the formation or alignment of the upper or lower jaw.

The options and recommendations available for correcting an overbite are as follows:

1. Braces

Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment for treating overbite. They work by repositioning and adjusting the alignment of the teeth. This option is suitable for both children and adults.

There are many options to choose from, available in braces. These options are- traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, and lingual braces.

2. Retainers, elastic bands, and jaw expanders

This option is more suitable for children because their teeth are much easier to align and reposition than those of adults. The bands and retainers physically encourage bite correction and proper alignment of teeth

3. Invisalign

Invisalign are removable, plastic and see-through aligners. They are switched out every two weeks by your orthodontist. It is popular amongst adult patients because of its aesthetic appeal.

Invisalign makes it easier to maintain oral hygiene as you can remove them while eating or drinking. (6)

4. Tooth extraction

Your orthodontist may go for this option to create more space for proper alignment of the teeth.  The space created after tooth extraction allows the front teeth to move back into the correct position.

5. Orthognathic surgery

Orthognathic surgery is recommended for patients with severe overbites (skeletal overbites). It is usually done between the ages of 13-18 years of age.

The post-operative recovery from the surgery takes up to 4-6 weeks. The operation is a low-risk procedure and the risks involved are the same as with any invasive surgical procedures.

What is the cost of correcting an overbite?

The cost of the treatment of overbite varies widely, depending on the severity and type of overbite. It is advisable to correct an overbite in childhood when it is less painful and less expensive.

The cost of braces can range from $2500 to $7500. The orthognathic surgery can typically cost from $20,000 to $40,000.

Over to you

An overbite may seem like a small malocclusion but if left untreated, can lead to severe health complications. The earlier you get your overbite corrected, the less painful and less expensive it is for you.

By choosing early orthodontic care, you save yourself from complicated surgical procedures in the future.

It is imperative that you consult with the orthodontist about your treatment options. Your dentist will decide on your treatment plan, based on the severity and cause of the overbite and your lifestyle choices.

All the treatment options are comparative in price, but the surgery does cost more than the other options. Regardless of which treatment option you choose, it is essential to maintain your oral hygiene.

Throughout the treatment process, you need to brush and floss twice a day and make regular dental checkups every six months. Any cavities, infection or loss of teeth will only delay your treatment.

Overbite is a condition in which the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth vertically. It is considered normal if it ranges between 30-50% or between 1-2 mm.