Recently, researchers have begun to look closely at how a person’s genes affect their facial features. For instance, they found that our noses are the part of the face most influenced by our genes. Another area influenced by our genes is our jawline and the position of our teeth.
An overbite, also known as buck teeth, occurs when your top front teeth stick out over your bottom front teeth. A lot of people have a slight overbite, but if it becomes severe you can experience tooth wear, crowding, and jaw pain.
Reasons for an overbite
An overbite is a type of malocclusion. which means your teeth are misaligned or crooked. Besides simple genetics, you can develop an overbite for several other reasons:
- Thumb sucking up to age 3 or beyond
- Using a pacifier up to age 3 or beyond. In fact, research has found that the use of a pacifier does more damage than finger or thumb sucking.
- Excessive nail biting
- Teeth grinding
- Tongue thrusting is common in childhood but can also continue in adulthood due to swollen tonsils, poor chewing and swallowing habits, as well as other reasons. Stress can also be the reason for tongue-thrusting in sleep.
- The use of a baby bottle over an extended period
- Extra teeth in the mouth
- The size and shape of the jaw
Ways to prevent an overbite in children
Sometimes overbites can be prevented in young children. Follow these suggestions to help them avoid the problem:
- Discourage thumb-sucking past infancy
- Avoid sippy cups with spill-proof valves and extended baby bottle use
- Limit pacifier use starting around age 3
- Schedule a dental visit by age 1
Symptoms of an extreme overbite
Since many people have a slight overbite, they may not experience any adverse effects. For people with a severe overbite, several health issues could occur:
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Speech impediments
- Breathing problems
- A change in your facial appearance
- Gum disease
Treatment for an overbite
Prevention is always the best step for any issues with your teeth, gums, or jawline. Therefore, regular dental visits and good dental hygiene are the best preventatives. By beginning your children’s dental exams at one year old, you can learn how to manage potential problems.
If there is a need for overbite correction at a younger age, there are many different treatments that can be used:
- Growth modification devices such as palate expanders to re-adjust the jaw
- Invisalign aligners for teenagers / potentially braces for younger children
- Retainers to keep teeth aligned
- Removal of baby teeth to make room for adult teeth.
For adults, the treatment for correcting an overbite may be more extensive.
- Invisalign aligners
- Surgery to correct jaw alignment
- Tooth extraction if more room is needed
How Dr. Foote can help
By visiting Dr. Foote every six months, you can stay on top of the problem. For your children, ask Dr. Foote for suggestions about treatment.
For adults, Dr. Foote is a certified Invisalign provider. Invisalign uses transparent, removable, comfortable aligners that function in much the same way as braces, except that people cannot tell you are wearing them. Set up a consultation with Dr. Foote to discuss your overbite issues. Schedule your appointment today.