The overbite refers to an incorrect relationship of the front teeth and a lot of people think a ‘big overbite’ is when the top teeth stick out too much, however, the correct terminology is an increased overjet.
Unfortunately, it can leave many adults feeling self-conscious about their teeth and in younger patients, children may be made fun of at school. The good news, however, is that the condition is completely treatable.
Here, one of our top orthodontists Dr Moira Wong explains what happens if you don’t treat an overbite and why it’s better to meet with an orthodontist as early on as possible to discuss a tailored treatment plan.
What exactly is an overbite?
An overbite is the vertical overlap of the upper teeth over the lower teeth. People often say that they have an overbite when the upper teeth stick out.
What happens if you don’t treat an overbite?
If the upper teeth are sticking out in children there is an increased chance of them fracturing their adult front teeth, which are in a more vulnerable position. If the vertical position of the teeth is incorrect, it can result in the front teeth being worn away over time and becoming very thin and they can fracture.
Is it better to treat an overbite early?
If an overbite is treated in childhood, it can prevent fracture of the adult front teeth. We can start treating overbites from the age of eight and diagnose how the child is developing. Around this age, a bad bite at the front will be evident.
I have, however, come across adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s, where they have already damaged their front teeth. We have been able to do orthodontic treatment in adulthood to prevent early loss of the front teeth.
Why might someone opt for overbite correction?
A bad overbite is aesthetically compromising. Sometimes children are made fun of at school because of their appearance. Even adults can feel self-conscious about their teeth and sometimes subconsciously hide their teeth when smiling by smiling with their mouth closed. Treatment achieves functional benefits as well as being aesthetically-rewarding, resulting in patients developing a lovely confidence boost.
Does an overbite get worse with age?
If you have an increase in distance between your upper and lower front teeth from the outset, it can increase with time.
How is an overbite corrected?
We need to diagnose if the incorrect relationship is caused by the incorrect angulation of the teeth or by lack of growth in the lower jaw. Once we have diagnosed the cause of the overbite then we need to formulate a treatment plan to address the various aspects that are contributing to the incorrect bite.
Sometimes braces alone can correct the problem. Sometimes it involves a combination of braces and extractions. If it is caused by a lack of growth of the lower jaw in younger patients, we can enhance the growth of the lower jaw with removable braces. If this is the case in an adult, it may involve a combination of braces and orthognathic surgery to the jaws.
How long does the process over fixing an overbite take?
It can take between 12-24 months depending on your individual treatment plan and this includes monthly visits to the clinic. Once the treatment has been completed, it is recommended to visit your orthodontist every three months for the first year following treatment to ensure that the corrected tooth movements are being maintained.
What positive effect does overbite correction have?
In adults, the effect on the patient following treatment is generally profound thanks to the change in facial and dental aesthetics. In children, we are able to correct things before they become aware that there is an overbite issue.
How much does it cost?
It costs between £5-10,000, again depending on what treatment option that your orthodontist has discussed with you.
Book an appointment with Dr Wong now if you would like to discuss your options for overbite correction.