A beautiful smile can be a confidence booster, and the alignment of our teeth plays a significant role in achieving that. Overbites are a common dental issue that many people experience, and they often wonder whether it's okay to have one or if they should seek treatment. In this blog post, we will explore overbites, what causes them, their potential effects on oral health and aesthetics, and whether it's okay to have one.
An overbite, also known as a deep bite or a Class II malocclusion, occurs when the upper front teeth overlap significantly with the lower front teeth when the mouth is closed. Some people will also refer to "buck teeth" or flared upper teeth as having an overbite. Technically speaking, when the upper teeth are flared compared to the lower teeth, orthodontists refer to this as having excessive overjet, but since overjet and overbite are closely related, we will use those terms interchangeably. This misalignment can vary in severity, and some overbites are barely noticeable, while others can be quite pronounced. Understanding the types of overbites can help shed light on this dental issue:
Skeletal Overbite: This type of overbite is primarily caused by the size and position of the upper and lower jaw bones. When the upper jaw is larger or more forward than the lower jaw, it can result in a skeletal overbite.
Dental Overbite: A dental overbite, on the other hand, is related to the positioning of the teeth themselves. It can occur when the upper front teeth are pushed forward, overlapping the lower teeth.
What Causes Overbites?
Several factors can contribute to the development of overbites:
Genetics: Genetic predisposition can play a significant role in the development of overbites. If your parents or grandparents had overbites, you may be more likely to inherit the condition.
Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use: Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can exert pressure on the front teeth, pushing them forward and potentially causing an overbite in children.
Tongue Thrusting: Habitual tongue thrusting against the front teeth can also contribute to the development of overbites.
Missing Teeth: Gaps created by missing teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift, leading to the development of an overbite.
Malformed Jaw Bones: An imbalance in the size or position of the upper and lower jaw bones can result in skeletal overbites.
Effects of Overbites
Overbites can have various effects on both oral health and aesthetics. Understanding these potential consequences can help individuals make informed decisions about whether or not to seek treatment:
Aesthetic Concerns: Pronounced overbites can affect the appearance of the smile, making it less aesthetically pleasing to some individuals. People with severe overbites may feel self-conscious about their smile.
Tooth Wear: Overbites can lead to excessive wear and tear on certain teeth due to their improper alignment. This can result in chipped or fractured teeth over time.
Speech Impediments: In some cases, overbites can affect speech clarity, causing lisps or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues: Severe overbites may contribute to TMJ problems, including pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint.
Discomfort and Pain: Overbites can lead to discomfort, pain, and even headaches due to the strain on the jaw and facial muscles.
Is It Okay to Have an Overbite?
Now that we've explored what overbites are and their potential effects, let's address the question at hand: Is it okay to have an overbite? The answer to this question depends on various factors:
Severity: The severity of the overbite is a crucial factor. Mild overbites that don't cause significant functional or aesthetic issues may be deemed "okay" by some individuals, especially if they don't experience discomfort or pain.
Personal Preference: Beauty and aesthetics are subjective. Some people may embrace their unique smiles, including overbites, while others may wish to correct them for a more conventionally aligned smile.
Functional Concerns: Overbites that cause functional problems, such as speech impediments, difficulty eating, or jaw pain, may require treatment to improve overall well-being.
Long-Term Impact: Considering the potential long-term consequences of an untreated overbite is essential. Ignoring a severe overbite could lead to more significant dental and health issues down the road.
Treatment Options for Overbites
For those who choose to address their overbites, there are several treatment options available:
Orthodontic Treatment: Traditional braces or Invisalign (clear aligners) can gradually shift the teeth into proper alignment, correcting dental overbites. Orthodontic treatment can include braces or Invisalign, and will often utilized elastics (rubbers bands) or other devices to correct the bite.
Orthognathic Surgery: For severe skeletal overbites, surgical intervention may be necessary to reposition the jawbones properly. This is typically performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.
Palatal Expanders: In some cases, palatal expanders can be used to widen the upper jaw, correcting certain types of overbites in children.
Retainers: After orthodontic treatment, retainers are often prescribed to maintain the corrected position of the teeth and prevent relapse.
Speech Therapy: Speech therapy may be recommended for individuals with overbites that affect speech clarity.
In conclusion, whether or not it's okay to have an overbite depends on individual factors such as severity, personal preference, and functional concerns. Overbites can vary in their impact on oral health and aesthetics, so it's essential to assess the situation on a case-by-case basis. If an overbite is causing discomfort, pain, speech impediments, or significant aesthetic concerns, seeking treatment from a qualified orthodontist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon is advisable. Ultimately, the decision to address an overbite should be made in consultation with a dental professional to ensure the best outcome for one's oral health and overall well-being.
If you're interested in correcting that overbite once and for all, give us a call or text us at (720) 743-0700 to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Bloom. He'll discuss all of your options and take the time to answer all of your questions. We look forward to meeting you soon!