An overbite is entirely normal. Many people with beautiful smiles have a slight overbite. However, when your upper teeth hang over your bottom teeth more than normal, an overbite can create problems.
How can you know when an overbite needs to be treated? Can it be prevented or treated at home? The dental experts at Dr Tosun Dental have put together this helpful guide to provide you with all the information you need to understand your child’s overbite.
What is an overbite?
Malocclusion is the orthodontic term for crooked teeth or a poor bite. While there are many different forms and causes of a poor bite, the most common type of malocclusion is an overbite.
An overbite refers to upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth. A slight overbite is normal and expected in a healthy mouth. However, when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much, an overbite can become an issue. Overbite could be related to dental factors such as the super eruption of upper and lower teeth and/or overgrowth of the jaws vertically.
Causes and how to correct an overbite
There are many causes of childhood overbite:
- Facial development
- TMJ disorder
- Teeth grinding
- Myofunctional habits such as keeping hands under the chin when working on the desk, nail biting, thumb sucking, pacifier use, overuse of sippy cups and bottles etc)
If your child’s overbite is genetic, you will have to wait until they are old enough to be treated by an orthodontist (age seven or eight is the best time to make this assessment). An orthodontist can determine the severity of their overbite and the best course of treatment to correct it.
While you can’t help genetics, you can take measures to prevent a childhood overbite. Myofunctional habits may force the upper jaw and/or teeth forward while pushing the lower jaw and teeth backward during early childhood development. The good news is that early intervention can correct these potentially damaging habits, allowing the mouth to reverse the damage naturally.
Overbite vs overjet
Both standard dental terms, people often use the terms overbite and overjet interchangeably. While these conditions sound similar, they’re not the same.While the overbite is the amount of overlap between the upper and lower front teeth, with an overjet, the upper teeth protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. This is the horizontal space between upper and lower front teeth. The severity of an overjet and overbite depends on how far the top teeth extend past the bottom teeth.
Will an overbite correct itself?
You may see your child’s overbite and wonder, “Will this correct itself?” This is a great question. Sometimes, there is an overbite during the toddler years simply because their mouth and jaw are still developing. Your dentist may recommend waiting a few more years to see how their overbite progresses, depending on the severity. It’s not uncommon for the mouth and jaw to align over time.
When should an overbite be corrected?
If your child’s overbite has not corrected itself or it still seems significant around the age of seven, you should seek professional help. An orthodontist can provide the best professional opinion on how to correct the overbite.
How do you fix an overbite in a child?
Your child’s age will determine the course of action in treating their childhood overbite.
- 2-year old overbite: While an overbite in 2-year-olds is normal and it may correct itself, there are things you can do to help rectify any further progression. If your child has an overbite, you should take measures to help them stop sucking their thumb or pacifier. This starts with removing all of the pacifiers and gently reminding your child to stop sucking their thumb.
- Ages seven and older: If your child still has an overbite by age seven, it’s time to seek professional help. The most common dental treatment for an overbite is called mandibular advancement. With this overbite, the lower jaw is situated too far back in relation to the upper jaw, which results in a deep bite and large overjet. An orthodontist dentist can bring the lower jaw forward by stimulating the growth with orthodontic treatment to help correct both the overjet and overbite. The best time to address this type of malocclusion is when all permanent teeth have emerged. There are good reasons to start this treatment at this age: 1-Child growth gets faster so the treatment duration could be relatively short. 2-Child is more cooperative.He/she can follow instructions and rules for the treatment.3-Because all permanent teeth are already in the mouth the correction of the jaws, as well as dental irregularities, will be smooth with no interruptions.
Does my child need braces for an overbite?
Depending on your child’s overbite severity, braces and aligners are common treatments for an overbite. Traditional braces can also correct crooked or crowded teeth or a misaligned jaw. Braces provide constant pressure on the teeth, which slowly moves them to the right place over time. The jaw correction usually consists of 2 phases which are smoothly linked to each other. In the first phase, the misalignment of the teeth is corrected and harmony between paper and lower dental arches is created. At the second phase, the lower jaw is advanced by guiding its growth using gentle elastic forces or fixed bite-correcting coil arms. This is called bite jumping mechanics. There are two keywords for the success of this correction: the child’s cooperation (wearing elastics/keeping oral hygiene) and growth potential of the jaws. After the orthodontist removes the braces, your child may need to wear a retainer to keep the overbite from returning.
What steps can I take to help prevent a childhood overbite?
While there isn’t anything you can do to prevent a genetic overbite, there are steps you can take to avoid a myofunctional overbite.
Identify and treat tongue thrusting/thumb sucking habits
Children need to develop a good resting tongue position for the proper development of their mouths. When not speaking, eating, or drinking, their tongue should rest against the roof of their mouth, with the tip positioned slightly behind the front teeth. While most kids develop this position naturally, others begin to rest their tongues in improper positions that affect their oral and dental development.
The best time to address the problems related to habits is age 7 or 8. An orthodontist can provide the best professional opinion on how to correct these habits. At Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic we are proud of providing the best treatments to address these problems with early interventions
Limit pacifier use
Sucking is one of your baby’s natural instincts, and a pacifier helps to calm babies naturally. Additionally, sucking has been proven to lower your baby’s blood pressure and heart rate. Doctors also recommend that babies sleep with pacifiers until the age of six months to prevent SIDS.
However, pacifier use after the age of four can affect jaw development and cause front teeth to begin to tip forward, which contributes to the development of an overbite. We suggest limiting the pacifier after age three to ensure a complete transition before four. Instead, offer another object of comfort, such as a blanket or stuffed animal.
Skip the sippy cup
Transitioning from the bottle to a cup is exciting for your child. However, traditional spill-proof sippy cups can cause an overbite (as your child will need to suck on the spout of a spill-proof cup to bypass the spill-proof valve). Sucking on the valve for long periods can lead to an overbite. We recommend not using a sippy cup, but limit their use to mealtimes if your child already has one. Most importantly, don’t allow your child to suck on their sippy cup all day.
Dr. Tosun Dental Clinic
At Dr Tosun Dental Clinic, our main priority is a safe journey and a great dental experience for your children. As we continue to serve our community during these times, you can rest assured knowing you are in safe hands. If you are concerned about your child’s overbite, we can help.
Contact our clinic by phone or visit our website to schedule your child’s dental appointment today with our orthodontist.