What is an Overbite?
An overbite is a bad bite, not generally painful but can cause a lot of trouble for the person who has it. It is a malocclusion, characterized by excessive protrusion of the upper jaw. In other words, the upper front teeth overlaps the lower front teeth when they come together. This is called as a vertical overbite when the lower teeth are hardly seen. On the other hand, a horizontal overbite is when the top teeth protrudes beyond the lower. An overbite is usually noticeable, but some are not so obvious and only a dentist can tell the difference.
Did you know that overbites are common in as many as 70% of children. Regardless whether they are severe cases or mld ones, every overbite has to be examined by a dental practitioner to determine if treatment is needed.
What causes an overbite?
Firstly, what causes an overbite? Overbites are often hereditary, but they may also result from a malformed jaw during fetal development. The upper jaw might have developed too large or the lower one too small. Sometimes childhood habits can cause an overbite, as in prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier or bottle use. Tongue thrusting is another habit of the child pushing his tongue against the back of his teeth when swallowing. Constant nail-biting or chewing on hard objects can also result in an overbite.
Aside from the self-consciousness and low esteem that protruding teeth can cause you, there are other potential complications from an overbite, beyond just its aesthetic issue. There will be problems with eating, biting or chewing. Overbites can cause a lisp, a speech defect that mispronounces certain words. The condition can also strain jaw and muscles, increasing the risk of front teeth damage from trauma, or hurt the soft tissues from the bottom teeth. There’s also the possibility of cavities and gum disease.
An overbite can be treated at any age, but it is easier to treat in children as their jaws are still developing. Extraction can be a consideration, though overbites that are skeletal in nature may require surgery to reposition the jaw. Orthodontics, though, is the most common treatment for overbites. One approach is to use a functional appliance to help steer the developing jaws in the right direction. Braces are still the tools of choice to complete the treatment. While early intervention is recommended, it’s never too late to correct your overbite and improve quality of life.
Early Intervention is Key to Overbites
If you suspect your child has an overbite, act now and see us for a consultation at our office in downtown Seattle. Children are so resilient, they can easily overcome treatment challenges. Ask Dr. Jaime Lee about it.