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An overbite occurs when there is a gap or overlap between the upper and lower front teeth. It is quite common for the upper teeth to sit farther or in front of the bottom teeth, causing an overbite.

Overbite causes a horizontal gap or vertical overlap between the top and bottom front teeth. The horizontal overbite or overjet makes the upper teeth protrude at the front of the mouth. When it is pronounced, many people call it buck teeth.

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An overjet can occur with an open bite, meaning a vertical gap exists between the lower and upper teeth.

An overlap of 2 – 4mm, or about 30% of the lower teeth are covered, is normal. However, a deep bite or deep overbite leaves teeth overlap of 4 – 6 mm or more. If the overbite is severe, the upper teeth may completely cover the bottom teeth and can dig into the lower gum.

An overbite can be vertical or horizontal, meaning the upper teeth sits at the front and hands over the bottom front teeth.

Causes of an overbite

Different things can cause an overbite. They include:

  • Nail biting
  • Thumb sucking in childhood
  • Genetics
  • Overuse of a dummy or a bottle in childhood
  • Ill-formed jaw as a foetus
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Chewing on things like pens and pencils a lot

Types of an overbite

Two types of overbites affect people – dental and skeletal. Dental overbite occurs from problems with the adult or baby teeth coming through, like overcrowding, or if the upper teeth are under pressure, like from thumb sucking. The skeletal overbite is due to issues in jawbone development.

Overbite vs underbite

In an overbite, the upper jaw rests over the lower teeth, but in an overbite, the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth.

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Is an overbite bad?

Dental care experts have a grading system for orthodontic issues in children. With the table below, you can identify if your condition is severe or normal and the suitable treatment, if necessary.

Type of overbite Size Dental or skeletal Require braces? Require surgery
Normal 2 – 4mm Often dental Unlikely Highly likely
Deep 4 – 8mm Dental or skeletal Very likely Unlikely
Severe 9mm or above Dental or skeletal Yes Likely

There are several reasons why you should fix an overbite. Orthodontic issues such as an overbite and underbite can cause:

  • Poor face structure
  • Facial pain
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Speech problems
  • Teeth wearing down quickly

If you are considering overbite treatment for a child, undergoing the full course of treatment is necessary. Usually, early treatment makes correction easier. Treating an overbite in adults may be more difficult because the tooth roots and jawbones are already developed.

The thought of getting surgery, braces and wearing retainers for a long to correct an overbite may sound scary, but the benefits of correcting misaligned teeth are greater than the discomfort during treatment.

How can I correct an overbite?

The first step is understanding that an overbite of 2 – 4mm is normal, so you don't have to worry about your upper teeth hanging slightly over your upper teeth.

Your dentist may recommend correcting an overbite, and the treatment plan will depend on the cause of the problem and its severity. Most correction of overbite is with braces.

Overbite treatment is effective; when you follow up with a retainer, the results can be lifelong. Your treatment can take about 1 – 2 years or longer.

Clear braces, which are less obvious than traditional metal braces, are available in private dental practices. Before your overbite braces treatment, ask your dental professional to show you before and after pictures of the overbite treatment. Understanding the difference will help motivate you to undergo treatment.

You can also ask your dentist if you need orthodontic spaces, tooth extractions and interproximal reduction (IPR) to prepare your teeth for overbite braces.

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Invisalign for overbite

Clear aligners such as Invisalign are effective for mild to moderate overbite cases. The almost invisible braces apply pressure to gently move the teeth to a better position to transform your deep bite. You can switch to a new set of Invisalign aligners every two weeks.

Correcting an overbite with Invisalign may be faster than the regular metal braces, but the main advantage of this option is the virtually invisible aligners. Aligners aren't available in the public healthcare service, but many people are willing to pay for them for their children to avoid a metal-mouth look. Adults who prioritise maintaining a more professional appearance and have the flexibility of removing their braces also choose Invisalign aligners.

At-home aligners for overbite treatment

At-home aligners such as NewSmile and SmileDirectClub are alternative aligner brands. The main difference between Invisalign and these options is that you do not need regular in-person dental visits. You check in using an app, and the dentist will monitor your treatment's progress remotely.

A significant advantage of this option is the cost. Since you don't have to visit the dentist's office, the cost of treatment is much lower. Treatment starts at £1195.

At-home aligners can treat mild and a few moderate orthodontic cases. They may include overbites, but the aligners aren't suitable for severe orthodontic cases. Visiting your dentist for a general check-up before any at-home dental treatment is best. Treating any gum disease or cavities before wearing aligners is important, and you can also ask your dentist to assess your suitability for treatment.

Overbite surgery

An overbite resulting from skeletal issues usually needs jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery. When the mandible or lower jaw hasn't developed properly, surgery can help improve the jaw shape. A slight change in facial appearance may result from the surgery.

An overbite surgery for children on public healthcare service is free if the procedure is medically necessary. Adults with a severely misaligned bite may also be eligible for this treatment.

Overbite surgery often involves one or more of these steps.

  • Teeth removal
  • Jaw repositioning
  • Screws insertion
  • Placing plates in the jaw

Surgery for an overbite is inside the mouth, so no scars will be visible. You may have to remain in the hospital overnight after your overbite surgery and take 2 – 4 weeks off work or school. Additional orthodontic work may be done before and after the surgery to guide your teeth into alignment.

Before vs after treatment

Before correcting an overbite, you may feel conscious of your appearance, especially if the overbite is deep. You may also experience jaw pain, headaches, and facial pain, from the deep overbite pushing against your bottom jaw and applying pressure on the blood supply and nerves. Your teeth may also wear down faster if they are more strained.

You may notice a slight change in your face shape when you've corrected the overbite because the lower jaw is more forward. You may even need to look at your before and after pictures to notice the difference. Any previous pain may go away after the overbite surgery. Wearing a retainer after treatment is necessary to keep your teeth from moving to their previous position.

If you have an overbite, our experienced dentist at McKennell Dental Practice can examine your teeth to determine the extent of the overbite and recommend the right treatment. Contact our dental practice on 020 7834 8802 to schedule an appointment with our dentist or visit at 21 Churton Street London SW1V 2LY.

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Frequently asked questions

Correction of an overbite is usually straightforward. Your dentist will know which treatment method is best for you. It may involve getting overbite braces, having jaw surgery and using a retainer.

Yes, it can. You can correct most moderate overbite cases with Invisalign removable aligners. The cost of Invisalign for correcting an overbite may be higher than traditional metal braces. However, this treatment option is less obvious and usually faster.

You cannot fix an overbite naturally. Braces or surgery are necessary, so you need to consult your dentist for treatment. Some cases of overbite are preventable, like those resulting from overuse of dummies, pencil chewing and thumb sucking.

Children under 18 may be eligible for overbite correction in public healthcare with surgery or braces. Like any other treatment, approval will depend on the condition's severity.

Adults may only get overbite surgery or braces on the public healthcare service if they have a severe overbite that causes difficulties in everyday things like speaking and eating. The dentist will assess your degree of an overbite before deciding if you can get treatment on the public healthcare service.

An overbite is normal if the upper teeth sit about 2 – 4mm before the lower front teeth. Research indicates that the average overbite is 2.8mm, and about 8% of children develop a severe or deep overbite above 6mm. Treatment for correcting an overbite is usually recommended for people with more than 4mm.