Bright smiles and individuals with dazzling white teeth might seem unachievable.Malocclusions and other dental abnormalities plague countless individuals requiring dental assistance. North York Dental Services, one of the leading clinics specializing in such cases, offers the care and services necessary to treat such abnormalities.
What is a Malocclusion?
“Occlusion” is a term used by dentists and orthodontists to mean teeth alignment. Hence, an abnormal arrangement of teeth is referred to as a malocclusion. Such deviations from the normal alignment can take several forms. An overbite is the most common of such malocclusions; it is when the upper set of teeth jut out past the lower dentition line.
Sometimes, a slight overlap of the upper teeth occurs during biting. Such a scenario is class one malocclusion, the most prevalent type.
Retrognathic overbite is an extreme case of an overbite, referred to as a class two malocclusion. A class three malocclusion is a severe case of an underbite. In such cases, the lower teeth overlap the upper ones, also known as prognathic.
Overbites begin to occur during childhood. Thumb sucking, a pastime of many infants, is a major cause of overbites. Along with excessive use of pacifiers and tongue thrusting, these three habits contribute significantly to an overbite.
Genetic factors also play a part in some cases of overbites.
Overbites are divided into two broad categories:
i)Dental overbites: this results from continuous tongue thrusting in children and finger sucking. Some children may already have an overbite from birth; in such cases, habits like thumb sucking will only aggravate this condition.
Some other conditions may also result in an overbite, like sleep apnea. This breathing disorder is most common in adult males but can also affect children. Sleep apnea results in the obstruction of the upper airways during sleep. This blockage can cause breathing to “stop” and “start” involuntarily.
Nail-biting is a destructive habit in both adults and children; it significantly contributes to the development of an overbite. Voluntary chewing of hard non-food objects can also result in an overbite over the long term.
Some toddlers may lose teeth prematurely without any replacement. Such occurrences can result in misalignments that can contribute to an overbite.
ii) Skeletal Overbites: the size and shape of teeth may naturally predispose a child to an overbite. Sometimes, the mouth may be too large or too small. Such anatomical anomalies can result in overcrowding of teeth in the mouth or a crooked appearance.
Underbite vs Overbite
An underbite is the polar opposite of an overbite; it is when the lower jaw protrudes forward. Much like overbites, underbites can also occur due to genetic factors.
Complications of Overbites
Overbites may not be immediately life-threatening. However, a failure to correct them can lead to uncomfortable and unpleasant dental conditions.
If overbites are not addressed early enough in children, they may require complicated jaw surgery when they become adults. Generally, excruciating pain and dental problems usually result due to overbites.
If left untreated, overbites can lead to:
1)Severe Temporomandibular Joint Disease and Jaw Pain(TMD)
Chronic pain results from TMDs because the condition affects the temporomandibular joints and the nerves associated with the movement of facial muscles.
Common manifestations of TMD include stiffness, lockjaw, and extreme pain of the neck. Facial pain may radiate to the ear region.
Other less common complications of TMD may include;
-misaligned teeth and structural changes to the mouth
-chewing difficulties and coherent speech
2) Increased likelihood of Tooth Decay and Gum Diseases
A major effect of an overbite is that the enamel wears away faster. Enamel is the hard outer covering of the tooth. Once it erodes, tooth decay becomes highly likely. All age groups are susceptible to tooth decay if they suffer from overbites.
Gum recession is a serious dental condition that causes the tooth root to become exposed. Overbites are a major cause of this.
Treatment Options for an Overbite
Depending on the patient’s age and the nature of the overbite, an orthodontist may recommend different options. Treating overbites early in children ensures that complications like TMD do not occur.
Toddlers can benefit from tooth extraction as an ideal treatment for overbites. However, most orthodontists recommend 7 years as the appropriate age to begin remedial therapies for overbites in children.
Tooth extraction as an overbite treatment in adults is only considered as a last option.
Comprehensive braces that include wires and brackets can correct most cases of overbites. Such dental braces recalibrate the growth pattern of the teeth to ensure proper alignment.
Some devices like special headgear can also correct overbites. Speak with your dentist about such treatment options to determine suitability.