It is important for patients to know what kind of orthodontic problems they may have, as this is the only way to make sure that they can make informed choices about their dental treatment. Depending on what kind of orthodontic problem you have, your treatment can last from six months to three years, and the costs that are incurred vary greatly. This is why these series of articles wish to articulate what kind of orthodontic problems exist, what their solutions are, and what kind of costs and treatment times can be expected. As each case varies greatly, the final say will be made by your orthodontist, but these articles should give the patient a general idea of what to expect.
Today we will be examining the problem of overbite.
What is overbite?
Overbite is a problem of the bite. It is a condition in which the upper row of teeth protrudes further than the bottom one, creating an uneven bite. An overbite is not necessarily an orthodontic problem. There is a minimum amount that is acceptable (between 3 and 5 millimetres), and anything more than this is considered a problem. Overbites tend to get worse and worse overtime, and should be treated. This condition is considered unhealthy because it forces the TMJ (the Temporomandibular Joint, the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull) to move back and puts strain on it. The enamel of the lingual side of the upper teeth is also in jeopardy, because each bite sends the bottom teeth into the upper ones. Overbites will also contribute to headaches and eventually to skeletal irregularities, and they are also not very aesthetically pleasing. A severe overbite may cause the teeth to protrude out of the mouth when the mouth is closed, and this is extremely unhealthy because it will leave teeth exposed to air all the time, which will cause them to dry out, making them more susceptible to tooth decay.
How do you treat overbite?
An overbite is one of the most common orthodontic problems. Depending on the severity of the overbite in question, you have the option of aligners, braces or surgery. Very mild cases can be corrected using only aligners, but as overbites are frequently caused by the jaws not aligning properly, it is rare that this is the case. Usually fixed orthodontic braces are enough to correct the bite, but sometimes braces just cannot align jaws properly. In these cases, and I stress that only very severe cases are like this, orthognathic surgery may be required.
According to recent anthropological studies, overbites are a new problem that is caused by civilization. It seems that the eating habits that come with using utensils and not our hands and just a knife cause this condition. Skeletons from before forks and knives do not have this condition, whereas they do in epidemic proportions afterwards. The Chinese, who started using chopsticks some 900 years earlier than Europeans did forks, also tend to have this problem, and much earlier, lending legitimacy to the theory that eating food off of a plate with utensils causes overbite.