There’s no denying that overbites are one of the most common dental disorders among both children and adults. In fact, according to a recent study, over 50% of US citizens have malocclusions, which include both overbites and underbites. Those numbers are staggering, especially since an overbite can cause serious issues later down the road. Luckily, nowadays, there are a variety of ways to fix overbites, such as braces and surgery.
However, more and more people are trying to avoid traditional orthodontic treatments and are setting their eyes on other solutions. One of those groundbreaking treatments, called Invisalign, claims to be able to correct even severe overbites. But how effective is Invisalign, and should you choose it over other more established treatments?
What Is an Overbite?
An overbite is a misalignment of the teeth that happens when the upper front teeth overlap with the lower teeth. While that might sound scary, it’s important to remember that almost everybody has some sort of overbite. More specifically, if the amount of vertical overlap between teeth is about 3 mm, then there’s nothing to worry about. However, some people have severe overbite, meaning that their upper teeth cover more than 30% of their lower teeth.
The Causes of Overbite
Generally speaking, overbites are hereditary, meaning that you can be born with a jaw that is too big or too small. Yet, it’s important to understand that jaws can grow unevenly under the pressure of certain habits. For example, thumb sucking or prolonged bottle-feeding are known to cause overbites later down the road. And as the child grows, habits such as teeth grinding and nail-biting could develop or worsen an already existing overbite.
Additionally, tooth loss can cause your teeth to shift out of alignment. In fact, some doctors believe that missing lower teeth can cause a condition similar to having a small lower jaw. Therefore, avoiding tooth loss is one of the easiest ways to prevent overbites.
The Symptoms of Overbite
The primary symptom of an overbite is the appearance, as overlapping upper teeth are quite noticeable. However, overbites can also cause a variety of problems, making them easier to spot:
- Discomfort while eating
- Speech problems
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- Severe headaches
- Face shape distortions
- Sleep apnea
Overbite Diagnosis and Treatment
Typically, your dentist will be the first one to notice if you are dealing with any form of overbite. If that’s the case, they will take an X-ray to further investigate the severity of your condition. Depending on the overlap distance, your dentist might refer you to an orthodontist, as they specialize in tooth and jaw alignment.
Braces are the most common treatment against most types of malocclusions, including overbites. Their purpose is to slowly realign teeth and allow the jaw to correct its position over time. And while braces are an effective treatment, they may have a hard time fixing severe overbites. It’s also worth mentioning that it can take months, even years, for braces to realign teeth, hindering the daily routing of wearers.
Sometimes, overbites are caused by crowded teeth, which slowly shift the jaw in an unnatural position. If that happens, the dentist will extract a few teeth to align the others, in turn allowing the jaw to reposition itself. And if the overbite is too severe, then the dentist will suggest braces after extracting some key teeth.
In extreme cases where the overbite is caused by jaw defects, surgery is the only way to fix it. Since it’s easier to shift children’s jaws using braces, surgeries are most common among adults. The idea of surgery is to manually realign the jaw and prevent further overbites. Yet, more often than not, surgery is a temporal solution as overbites may happen again in the future.
Invisalign is a treatment that relies on transparent aligners that slowly shift teeth into place. While it’s true that Invisalign aligners are similar to braces, they are more versatile and sometimes more effective against overbites. For example, unlike braces, Invisalign aligners can be taken off when eating or sleeping.
So how does it work? First, the dentist makes a mold of your teeth, which is used as a base for the Invisalign aligners. Once that’s done, you will have to wear your aligners for no more than 22 hours a day, taking them off when eating or sleeping. Every two weeks, you will need to get a new pair that will continue to slowly but surely shift your teeth. Usually, this treatment should take anywhere between nine months and one year, depending on your condition.
But what about severe overbites? Even though Invisalign is designed for moderate overbites, it can also work for severe cases. In fact, newer models of Invisalign use elastic bands attached to the top and bottom aligners to increase their effectiveness against severe overbite. In other words, nowadays, Invisalign works for most, if not all, cases of overbite.
Overbite Prevention Tips
Prevention is better than cure, and overbites are no different. The following tips should allow you to prevent overbites, especially for children and young adults:
- Regular Dentist Checks: Dentists are able to notice problems such as overbites before they become severe. As such, you should visit your local dentist at least twice a year.
- Fix Missing Teeth: Missing teeth can cause other teeth to change their position, eventually causing overbites. Therefore, you need to fix missing teeth by getting implants, dentures, or other similar devices.
- Avoid Teeth-Grinding: It’s no mystery that teeth-grinding can cause a lot of dental problems, including overbites. If you have trouble with sleep teeth-grinding, you can purchase mouthguards that will prevent this dangerous habit.
- Avoid Tongue-Thrusting: Some people have a habit of pushing their tongue forward when eating or sleeping. Over time, tongue-thrusting can cause enough pressure to shift teeth from their original position, which leads to overbites.
Overall, overbites are a common dental problem that many people are constantly dealing with. From speech problems to jaw pain, overbites can easily disturb our daily routine. However, there are a variety of ways to fix them, such as braces and surgery. And while each treatment is effective, Invisalign remains one of the most versatile solutions against most types of overbites.