Overbite: the what's, why's, and how's


You have probably heard the terms "overbite" and "overjet," but not many people know the difference or why they matter.


Overbite refers to the overlap of teeth in a vertical up and down direction. A small amount of this overlap is ideal and protective - up to a few millimeters.


When upper teeth cover lower teeth by more than a small amount, this is considered excessive overbite, or a "deep bite." In extreme cases, the upper teeth may completely cover the lower teeth to the point that they are in contact with the gums, which can cause pain and lead to destruction of teeth and gums.



What causes an overbite?


Overbites, or deep bites, are typically caused by genetics. This type of bite often develops when there is excessive overjet present (upper teeth are too far forward compared to lower teeth), strong musculature, or when the lower jaw develops smaller or shorter than the upper jaw. Overbite can also develop due to loss of teeth and certain behaviors, such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Left untreated, overbites tend to worsen over time.


How are overbites fixed?


Your orthodontist can plan how to successfully treat your overbite. Treatment may involve braces, Invisalign, clear aligners, retainers, orthopedic appliances, or a combination of these. Length of treatment to fix an overbite usually depends on your age and the severity of your bite.


Treatments are also available for symptoms related to an overbite, too. For example, significant temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain can often be alleviated with splint therapy to relieve pressure on the area.


What happens if my overbite is not fixed?


If left untreated, excessive overbite can lead to:

  • Pain when chewing

  • Accelerated tooth wear

  • Gum recession

  • Sores on the roof of the mouth

  • Jaw pain

  • Speech disorders

  • Tooth decay

  • Increased crowding

  • Difficulty chewing and speaking

  • Tooth mobility

 

Correcting an overbite doesn’t need to be a difficult procedure. At Godley Family Orthodontics, we offer a variety of treatment options and strive to make every visit to our office enjoyable and comfortable for our patients.