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Overbite (Malocclusion)

 

An overbite, also known as a type of malocclusion and/or an overjet, is a dental condition where the upper teeth extend forward, covering the lower teeth. This is a very common condition that many people don’t realize they have because their overbite is not serious enough to seek dental attention.

There are two main types of an overbite: skeletal and dental. Dental overbites are dental or tooth-related in nature and are corrected by things such as orthodontic braces. Skeletal overbites are skeletal in nature and usually refers to the upper jaw (maxilla) noticeably protruding outward.

What Causes an Overbite?

Overbites can be caused by a few different things, including:

  • Abnormalities in the jaw bone
  • Hereditary
  • Poor chewing habits

Disadvantages of an Overbite

Unfortunately, though most overbites are not considered serious, there are certain cases in which the patient will have disadvantages over those who have correctly aligned teeth. Disadvantages of an overbite include:

  • Can lead to jaw pain
  • Increased chances of wear and tear on enamel
  • Increased chance of tooth decay
  • Increased chance of developing gum disease (periodontal disease)
  • Interfere with ones speech
  • Can change the structure and appearance of ones face, mouth and smile
  • Can cause low self-esteem
  • Correcting the overbite can take a long period of time

Correcting an Overbite

Correcting your overbite will depend heavily on which type of overbite you have. For those who have dental overbite, the best and most used treatment is through orthodontic treatment. Patients who have a dental overbite or dental malocclusion find that dental treatment gives them a permanent solution to their problem. In some cases, the overbite is due to overcrowding of the teeth. Tooth extractions, followed by dental braces will probably be necessary for patients that have too many teeth and not enough room.

If you suffer from a skeletal overbite, jaw surgery is generally the way to correct it. Unfortunately, extraction and orthodontic braces are not always the best solution, and jaw surgery needs to be done to satisfy the overbite correction. During jaw surgery, the either the maxilla will be repositioned, or the mandible will be pulled forward. Occasionally, both methods will be done simultaneously to correct the overbite.

The Cost of Correcting an Overbite

There are several factors that determine a patients actual cost to correct an overbite. Factors such as how bad the condition is, how experienced your dentist is, the type of treatment needed, the duration of treatment and dental insurance coverage. Thankfully, many dental plans cover some or most of the costs of both types of treatment. Jaw surgery is no doubt more expensive than tooth extractions and/or orthodontic braces combined. Braces can range in price from $3,000-$6,000, and jaw surgery can range from $20,000-$30,000.

You can of course offset costs if you are able to fix the problem at a young age. Children’s teeth and bones are more pliable and can be corrected quicker than adults. An adult jaw is already developed, whereas a child’s isn’t. Still, correcting an overbite can be done at any age.

Who Needs to Correct an Overbite?

Truthfully, you may have an overbite and not even notice it. Overbites are extremely common among people, especially mild cases. It’s more uncommon for a person to have a severe overbite, or someone who needs jaw surgery to correct it. If you feel like your jaw alignment is off, if you’re unhappy with the overall appearance of your smile or mouth, if you feel like the overbite is the cause of other issues (such as weakened enamel or worn down teeth) you may want to talk to your dentist about corrective options.

Page updated February 2011

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