What Causes an Overbite and Why You Might Want to Fix It

Categories: Oral Health Tips

An overbite is a common dental health issue — about 22% of people have an overbite.

An overbite is when your front teeth jut out over your bottom teeth. When your mouth is closed, most people’s top teeth rest slightly in front of their bottom teeth. A 10 to 20% overlap is considered normal. If your upper teeth extend beyond your lower teeth by more than 20%, you might have an overbite.

An overbite can cause difficulty breathing, chewing, or speaking, and could have negative effects on your jaw alignment. Plus, an overbite might make you feel self-conscious about smiling as often as you want to.

Access Health Dental has plenty of options if you have an overbite and want to straighten your smile. Here’s what you need to know about what causes an overbite and how you can fix it to have better dental health and a brighter smile.

What Causes an Overbite?

An overbite is caused by the position of your jaw and is common when your lower jaw is small in comparison to your upper jaw.

Like other physical characteristics you share with your family, an overbite can be genetic — it was likely handed down to you from your parents or grandparents.

If overbites don’t run in your family, yours could be caused by other factors. Possible overbite causes include:

  • Excessive thumb sucking
  • Excessive nail biting
  • Frequent tongue thrusting
  • Frequent lip sucking
  • Chronic teeth grinding, also known as bruxism
  • Using a pacifier frequently after age three

Does an Overbite Cause Problems?

Depending on the severity of your overbite, you might experience uncomfortable or unhealthy side effects.

Possible Health Issues Caused by an Overbite

A serious overbite can cause breathing difficulties, especially when you’re sleeping. If the problem is bad enough, you could develop sleep apnea, a condition where your airway is blocked while you sleep. This can cause disruptive snoring and can even be dangerous to your health.

An overbite could also give you problems with your jaw. Temporomandibular disorders, commonly known as TMD or TMJ, might give you jaw pain or the sensation of your jaw feeling locked. Some people with TMJ issues have trouble fully opening or closing their mouths.

Learn more about what causes TMJ and how to find relief >

An overbite also puts you at a higher risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. If tooth decay and cavities aren’t treated, they can cause bigger problems that require crowns, dental implants, root canals, and even tooth extraction (a tooth being pulled).

Aesthetic Side Effects of an Overbite

Besides the physical risks of an overbite, having an overbite might make you feel self-conscious about your smile.

There are proven health benefits to smiling and laughing: smiling and laughing release endorphins, relieve pain, and reduce stress. It also helps you connect with people and develop emotional bonds.

If you’re self-conscious about your teeth, you might not smile and laugh as frequently. As a result, you might not experience the feel-good chemicals that come from smiling.

Studies have shown that people who received orthodontic treatment to straighten their smile felt higher levels of satisfaction about their appearance and were more confident than before they had treatment. That means that even if an overbite isn’t causing health problems, fixing it could improve your mental well-being.

How to Fix an Overbite

If you want to fix your overbite, the first step is to come in to see us at Access Health Dental.

We’ll perform x-rays and visual exams to assess the alignment of your smile and diagnose the overbite. If your overbite is mild, we might recommend overbite correction exercises or tongue thrust exercises to train your jaw into different alignments.

If you experience TMJ or TMD, we can help treat this as well. TMJ and TMD treatment involves a specialized plan based on the cause of your pain and your unique symptoms. We can offer exercises and ways to realign your jaw to relieve pain and decrease your symptoms.

If your overbite is pronounced, we may use orthodontics — including braces and Invisalign — to correct misalignment in teeth and help you feel great about your smile. Depending on how severe your overbite is, we might recommend traditional metal braces or offer Invisalign as an option.

For decades, orthodontists have been correcting misaligned teeth with traditional metal braces. Braces give us control over the movement of your teeth and help us achieve a smile you’ll love.

If you’re looking for a more discrete way to fix your overbite, invisible aligners like Invisalign allow us to shift your teeth without metal brackets and wires. Invisalign moves teeth with clear plastic trays that you wear for at least 22 hours a day.

As your teeth shift, we’ll fit you with different trays that keep moving your teeth into place. Best of all, you can take Invisalign out to eat, brush your teeth, or take a photo. When you’re done, you put them back into place to continue shifting your smile.

Overbite Correction with Adult Braces

Adult braces from Access Health Dental can help correct an overbite and treat many other oral health issues.

While you may have had braces as a teenager, your teeth can shift over time. Traditional braces and invisible aligners are an effective way to straighten your teeth and get a beautiful smile at any age.

It’s never too late to explore your options for getting the smile you love.

Learn about the benefits of getting braces as an adult >