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An overbite occurs when your top teeth overlap your bottom teeth. It often makes sufferers feel self-conscious about their appearance. Additionally, a severe overbite can cause oral health issues. Fortunately, there are many solutions available to treat the condition.

Normal vs. Severe Overbite

  • Class I Overbite—many patients have a slight overbite that overlaps about a third to a half of the lower bite. Typically, treatment of a class I overbite is not necessary unless you are unhappy with your appearance.
  • Class II Overbite—treatment is usually recommended for a moderate to severe overbite, known as a class II overbite or malocclusion, because it places you at higher risk of oral health issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
Woman smiling

What Causes Malocclusion?

Malocclusion is defined as an imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed. Some patients develop a malocclusion(or an overbite), by no fault of their own.

However, there are certain habits that may increase your risk, including:

  • Thumb-sucking
  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Bottle-feeding
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Nail biting

These habits exude repetitive force on the teeth and jaw, causing them to shift in ways that can require extensive and costly therapy.

What else can Cause an Overbite?

Some causes are beyond control, such as:

  • Genetics—some patients have an underdeveloped lower jaw or overdeveloped upper jaw due to genetics, resulting in an overbite.
  • Abnormal Tooth Eruption—if teeth erupt improperly, or if you have extra or abnormally shaped teeth, they can cause an overbite to dev

How Common is an Overbite?

There is no reason to be embarrassed, as many patients suffer from overbites. Class II overbite is the most commonly treated condition in orthodontics.

According to Dr. Moschos A. Papadopoulos, in the US, 33% of orthodontic patients are receiving treatment for a severe overbite.

John F. Rink DDS, AAACD

An Overbite can be Easily Diagnosed with a Routine Exam

While your dentist can usually identify an overbite visually, he or she will also perform a physical dental exam of your bite to formally diagnose the condition. During the evaluation, your dentist will usually take digital x-rays. To more closely examine your smile, he or she can also use advanced technology to take 3-D images of your teeth and jaw. Using this information, your dentist can determine the type and severity of your overbite. Treating a severe overbite usually involves braces or other orthodontic treatments.

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