Dr Samuel Ofori-Attah, dentist at the Foxhall Dental Practice, explains what this is and how it can be treated.
An overbite is a type of malocclusion, or incorrect bite, where the teeth do not meet as they should. It occurs when the front teeth at the top overlap the bottom teeth by more than a few millimetres. It is also possible to have an underbite, where the reverse occurs but this is less common. Overbites are fairly common and are deemed to potentially need treatment where the overbite is more than around 4mm, although this will depend on each individual patient’s situation.
This problem can lead to a change in a person’s appearance and also has the potential to cause some problems with the rest of your teeth. Let us take a look at these problems and how they can be addressed at your convenient Ipswich dental practice.
When a patient has a deep overbite, where the top front teeth significantly overlap the bottom ones, this has the visible effect of shortening the length of the face by pushing the chin backwards a little. Although the extent of this varies from person to person, this can lead to them having a somewhat ‘grumpy’ expression, however far from the reality that may be. This also often has the effect of making them look older than their actual years.
There are two key things that can be affected by a malocclusion of this type; uneven wear of the teeth and potential TMJ problems.
Because of the overlap of the teeth, the constant friction between the two sets of teeth often means that some teeth wear faster than normal. This tends to happen to the bottom teeth as they are slightly smaller and have less strength. In extreme cases, this can leave them as little more than ‘stumps’, but even in relatively mild cases, they can appear shorter than they normally would be.
This problem also means that there may be more enamel wear than there should be. This means that you might experience premature tooth decay and also a heightened, and often fairly uncomfortable, level of sensitivity in your teeth, especially when you eat or drink very hot or cold food and drinks.
Where the teeth are already worn down, prior to corrective treatment, they can often be restored through the use of porcelain dental crowns.
TMJ or jaw joint problems can also occur in some patients, leading to pain or a clicking of the jaw joint. This can be quite uncomfortable when eating and can even affect speech to some degree.
Treating an overbite
There are three key ways in which an overbite can be corrected. The most common of these is through the use of orthodontics (dental braces), which we will discuss shortly. There are two other lesser used options though, which may be used in more exaggerated cases. In rare cases where it is a skeletal malfunction that is causing the overbite, it may be necessary to have medical surgery to correct it. This is fairly rare though and our Ipswich patients probably needn’t worry about this too much.
Another option in cases where the overbite is significant is to extract some of the teeth to allow the others room to move. This is more common in younger children where it is possible to remove baby teeth, but can also be used in adults in certain situations. Again, this is never a first option and we always try to avoid the need to extract any teeth wherever possible.
By far the most common method used to correct an overbite, or an underbite, is through the use of dental braces. This method works by using a gentle pressure to ease the teeth back to their correct position. This can take in excess of a year to work as too much force applied too quickly, could damage the teeth.
Because of the time usually needed for this procedure to work, it is probably no surprise that the Invisalign method that allows for ease of use and comfort, is the most popular system amongst patients, where practical. Patients who have used this system have been delighted with how easy it is to remove their aligners when eating food or when cleaning their teeth, and have often commented on how discreet and almost invisible they are to others.
Whether this system is the best for your own situation can only be determined by having a consultation with one of our orthodontic team. If you would like to find out how we can correct your overbite and help adjust your expression at the same time, please call the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich on 01473 258396 and ask for a consultation appointment.