In this post, our Lethbridge dentists explain what overbites are, what causes them, and when you can use clear aligners to treat your overbite.
What Overbites Are
An overbite (also referred to as a deep bite) is when your upper front teeth overlap with your lower front teeth. While most people have at least a little overbite (where the upper teeth extend over the bottom teeth by 2 to 4mm), it becomes an issue when it starts to cause problems such as wear on your teeth or jaw pain.
This starts to occur when the normal 2 to 4 mm is extended to 4 to 6mm or greater, at which point the condition will need correction. You might hear your dentist describe overbites in terms of percentage. A range of 5 to 25 percent is ideal.
The vertical nature of an overbite distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal and causes the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. But with an overbite, there's no angle as the upper teeth remain straight or downward.
How Overbites Can Be Fixed
When the upper teeth come down over the bottom teeth significantly, this condition should be treated to prevent cracking, excessive wear, or chips in teeth.
The most common reason for overbites is when the lower jaw is just a bit smaller than the upper jaw, so the lower teeth rest behind the upper teeth and move downwards as wear on your teeth occurs. You’ll notice more gum tends to show on your upper teeth, and your upper front teeth are situated slightly lower than the teeth beside them (canines, or upper side teeth).
Overbites can happen if a patient had a tongue-thrusting habit or was allowed to suck on an object - most often a thumb or pacifier - for too long as a child.
Chewing on objects such as pens, erasers, or even biting their nails can also cause this problem. We don't recommend using clear aligners to fix overbites that are caused by a skeletal problem.
Why You Should Have Your Overbite Treated
Your Oral Health
With an overbite, the chance of wear on your teeth increases as your teeth touches each other every time your mouth opens and closes. In the long term, they get shorter and thinner.
When you smile, your top teeth hide your bottom teeth and you may feel insecure or self-conscious flashing your grin for a photo, meeting new people, or socializing.
Clear Aligners For Fixing Overbites
Clear aligners may be able to help correct mild or moderate overbites (if not caused by skeletal problems, which would probably need surgery) by applying continual pressure to the teeth.
Clear aligners can:
- Move your upper teeth upwards to where they should be
- Move your lower teeth downwards to where they should be
The pressure your clear aligners apply will move your teeth into prescribed, corrected positions, leaving you with a straighter, more symmetrical smile. The clear aligners also move your gum at the same time, to keep the proportions in check.
You’ll need to wear your clear aligners for at least 22 hours per day, removing them to eat, drink and floss your teeth. The series of clear aligners will progressively shift your teeth, and you’ll switch to a new set about every 2 weeks. Your custom treatment plan may entail wearing as many as 26 trays, which equates to one tray every 2 weeks for one year.
Before you begin your treatment, your dentist will be able to show you a digital preview of how your new smile will look by the end of your treatment. The first step is to schedule a consultation with your dentist to find out if you are a candidate for clear aligners.