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Picture this: You’re flashing a big smile in the mirror and you notice your top teeth seem to overlap your bottom teeth, also called an overbite. So, is an overbite normal and nothing to worry about? Or is it a concern to bring up with a dental professional? And what exactly is an overbite? Here, board-certified orthodontist Dr. Cara Piskai and the team at Piskai Orthodontics will answer these questions. We’ll unpack what you need to know about overbite teeth, including what causes an overbite, complications if left untreated, and how to fix an overbite.

What Is An Overbite?

Simply put, an overbite is when your upper front teeth overlap with your lower front teeth. In answering the question, “Is an overbite normal?” you might be surprised to hear that everyone has an overbite to some degree — yes, a slight overbite is pretty standard. Dentists and orthodontists consider an overlap normal if it’s less than three millimeters. Visually, a normal overbite means your upper teeth cover about a third of your lower teeth. If they cover more than that, the overlap is considered an excessive overbite. Also called a “deep bite”, an excessive overbite can cause functional, aesthetic, and oral health problems.

But what if only some of your upper teeth — namely your upper front teeth — stick out past your lower teeth? Is this also called an overbite? Actually, if the upper front teeth stick out on an angle, this is called overjet. Think of overjet vs. overbite like this: overjet is when the front teeth flare out on a horizontal angle, while overbite teeth is when the entire upper dental arch overlaps the lower arch. Overjet can develop independently or in combination with a deep bite.

What Causes an Overbite?

So, how do overbites happen? Genetics play a major role – if one or both of your parents had an overbite, there’s a good chance you might, too, since your jaw shape is hereditary. The most common genetic cause for an overbite is a small lower jaw. When the lower jaw is narrower or shorter than the upper jaw, the upper dental arch is more “forward.” Apart from genetics, some infant oral habits can also contribute to developing overbite teeth. Although infant habits like thumb sucking and tongue thrust are a normal part of baby development, prolonged oral habits can affect teeth and jaw growth if they continue into the toddler or early school years.

Other causes for an overbite? Missing teeth — whether from dental trauma or adult teeth that didn’t erupt, nail-biting, and teeth grinding or clenching (also called bruxism) are also known to contribute to misaligned teeth and an overbite.

Complications From An Overbite: More than Just Cosmetic

Now that we’ve talked about the basics of an overbite, are you wondering what complications can arise from leaving a deep bite as is? For some, the aesthetics of an overbite is their first concern — it’s not uncommon for a deep bite to contribute to feeling self-conscious about your smile. But, an increased overbite can also lead to some functional complications and oral health concerns.

Functionally, a deep bite can cause issues with eating, speaking, breathing, and even contribute to jaw pain or TMJ disorder. Plus, it can lead to increased or uneven wear-and-tear on your teeth and enamel, which can affect the structural integrity of your teeth in the long run. And if a deep bite makes you bite into the roof of your mouth a lot, painful sores or ulcers may develop that make eating, talking, and oral hygiene uncomfortable or painful.

As for the impact on your oral health, having an increased overbite can make it harder to keep your teeth sparkling clean. An overbite is often accompanied by teeth that sit crooked or crowded together, resulting in extra nooks, crannies, or spaces that can pose a challenge to brushing and flossing well. In turn, this can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

The Big Question: How To Fix An Overbite

So, can you fix an overbite with orthodontic treatment like braces or Invisalign®? In the hands of an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Piskai, the answer is, “Most definitely!” At Piskai Orthodontics, the best course for how to fix an overbite is determined through a personalized treatment plan, resulting in a beautiful and healthy custom smile. In addition, your South Jersey orthodontist specializes in cutting-edge modern orthodontics, offering the ultimate custom LightForce braces and Invisalign clear aligner treatment. Why do we exclusively provide our patients with LightForce braces as our braces of choice? LightForce braces are the only fully custom braces system for treatment that’s more efficient, comfortable, and easier to keep clean.

And for our patients who want to fix their misaligned teeth without, well, looking like they’re fixing their teeth? Enter: Invisalign. Can nearly invisible Invisalign fix an overbite? In short, yes, Invisalign clear aligners can fix overbites. With special wings, Invisalign attachments, and elastics, Invisalign can properly align a mild to moderate overbite. Plus, Invisalign offers convenience for your lifestyle: you take them out when eating or drinking anything other than water, and when you clean your teeth, which means not having to change your eating or oral care habits too much. Need more info about Invisalign? Check out these seven things to know about Invisalign to see if this orthodontic treatment might be right for you.

Now, we should mention that in some cases of severe overbite or when there’s a skeletal issue, Dr. Piskai might recommend orthognathic surgery as part of your treatment.

Is Overbite Prevention Possible?

So, can you prevent an overbite? This is a bit of a tricky question. If you’ve inherited it, it’s likely you can’t prevent it entirely. But when it comes to oral habits in kids that contribute to a deep bite, set your kids up for success. Encourage good oral habits early on, break thumb-sucking or pacifier habits before age three and use cups instead of bottles as your kids grow out of babyhood.

If you need help stopping prolonged infant habits, your Voorhees, NJ orthodontist has advice and early orthodontic treatment options to support your child’s dental development. And, if you haven’t taken your child in to see us yet, remember that the American Association of Orthodontics suggests taking your child for an orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven so you’re up to speed on your young one’s oral development.

Also something to think about for preventative reasons? If you notice your child is a persistent mouth breather, consider a visit to your pediatrician or ENT; constant mouth breathing (not just when sick and congested) can contribute to non-ideal jaw development in kids.

Transforming Your Overbite into a Stunning Smile With Your South Jersey Orthodontist

Now that you can answer the question, “Is an overbite normal?” and have looked at the causes and possible complications of an excessive overbite, ask yourself if it’s time to see an orthodontist. Fixing an overbite with braces or Invisalign improves how a smile looks and has a considerable positive impact on oral functioning and health.

Where to start? Book a free initial consultation with Dr. Piskai. At our Voorhees, NJ, orthodontic practice, we’re all about creating a personal and fun orthodontic experience — going the extra mile to help our patients feel comfortable and appreciated. And with our modern, digital-forward approach, Dr. Piskai and the Piskai Orthodontics team help patients in the Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Marlton, and Runnemede communities achieve beautiful, one-of-a-kind smiles more comfortably and efficiently. Get excited about an overbite before and after that’ll change your life!