It is amazing how the human body works: Everything is interconnected, and one seemingly insignificant malfunction can lead to other problems. Take an overbite, for instance. A slight overbite is easy to ignore, as it rarely hurts and its effects are merely aesthetic. However, ignoring it can lead to severe oral complications and facial disfigurement in the future.
What is an Overbite?
An overbite occurs when your upper jaw does not align with your lower jaw. The medical term for such a misalignment is malocclusion. Most people have slight overbites of about a millimeter or two. However, when the overbite is more than 5 mm, it is called a deep overbite.
An overbite is visible from the side, as the upper lip tends to overlay the lower lip. From the front, an overbite is noticeable as a misalignment of lips, where the Cupid’s bow does not align with the middle of the lower lip. The bodily structure is determined by the shape, size, and alignment of bones, so an overbite can significantly affect your jawline, and by extension, your facial structure.
Most people with an overbite look older than they are, as overbites tend to make the face rounder and soften the definition that gives the face youthfulness. The over-extension of the upper jaw over the lower jaw can also make the patient appear grumpy.
What Causes an Overbite?
Unfortunately, most cases of overbite are genetic. Chronic habits such as thumb sucking in children can lead to overbites, as well. Since children’s bones are still developing and therefore malleable, the constant thrusting motion of the tongue produces enough force to manipulate the shape of the upper jaw over time. Excessive use of feeding bottles and pacifiers can have the same effect.
Why You Should Get Your Overbite Treated
Most people desire to have their teeth aligned for aesthetic reasons, and rightfully so: A beautiful smile is a worthy investment. However, the benefits of fixing an overbite go beyond that. Most oral problems, if not treated early, become more severe and costly down the line. Here are the health reasons why you should book an appointment as soon as you can:
- The most severe effect of an overbite is TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain and headaches. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone. The joint facilitates oral functions such as chewing. The misalignment of bones can lead to pain in this interconnected system, as well as ear pain.
- An overbite can make it hard to brush or floss your teeth. This will likely lead to the development of plaque or tooth decay.
- Since teeth grind over each other as we eat or speak, overbites can lead to severe erosion of some teeth over time. The discomfort caused by the grinding can also make eating a chore.
- The upper jaw can exert too much pressure on the lower jaw, causing trauma.
- Overbites make speech difficult, and some patients will likely develop a lisp.
Luckily, overbites are relatively easy to treat. Ideally, they should be treated as early as possible, because younger bones are easier to mold into shape. However, there are also effective treatments for adults. The type of treatment depends on the degree of misalignment. Slight overbites can be fixed using braces and Invisalign. However, deep overbites can call for more intensive treatment options, such as tooth extraction or jaw surgery. In cases of TMJ pain and headaches, splint therapy can be used to realign the jaw and release the tension on the affected nerves, muscles, or joints.
To learn more about overbites and their treatment, please call us at 310-710-6527 or fill out the form on our website, https://calismileorthodontics.com/free-consultation/, for a free consultation.