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Overbite 101: Causes, Complications and Treatment Options



At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we’re in the business of designing beautiful smiles. For 15 years, Dr. Melanie Wang has been using the latest technology and her expertise to correct malocclusion (or bad bite) of all kinds. One of the most common types of malocclusion we treat at our offices is excessive overbite. Also called a “deep bite,” an overbite refers to a misalignment of the jaw where the top front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth to an excessive degree.


Over time, a deep bite can cause a range of issues, from eating and breathing issues to increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay. But there’s good news! Your Rancho Santa Fe and San Diego orthodontist, Dr. Melanie, and her team are experts in perfecting smiles and improving overbite with braces or clear aligners is our specialty!


In this post, we’ll cover:


  • What an excessive overbite (or deep bite) is
  • The major differences between overjet and overbite
  • The causes of a deep bite
  • What happens if you don’t treat an excessive overbite
  • How to treat a deep bite



What is a Deep Bite?


A deep bite is a type of excessive overbite that occurs when the top front teeth severely overlap the bottom front teeth but the back teeth are closed. The degree of overbite varies from person to person, as do the symptoms and causes. Common side effects of a deep bite include excessive wear on the teeth, jaw pain, speech problems, and breathing issues such as sleep apnea. Many patients also have aesthetic concerns, since an excessive overbite can have a significant impact on your facial appearance.


A deep bite is typically caused by either dental or skeletal issues. If an excessive overbite is dental in nature, it means it’s the result of misaligned, crowded or crooked teeth. If a deep bite is caused by skeletal issues, it means there are structural problems in relation to the size and position of the jaw, typically brought on by genetic factors. Fortunately, all of these issues can be corrected with orthodontic treatment!



Differences Between Overjet and Overbite


The term “overbite” is commonly confused with “overjet” for good reason. The two conditions have similar causes, symptoms and effects, but there are actually many differences between overjet and overbite. An overbite is the degree to which the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth, but an overjet refers to teeth that angle outwards from the gums. Overjet teeth are also commonly known as protruding teeth or “buck teeth.”


Since overjet teeth flare out, patients often struggle with difficulties eating, speaking and chewing. In severe cases, it can also be difficult to fully close the lips over the protruding teeth. Understandably, an overjet can cause some patients to feel self-conscious about their smile. But once again, it’s orthodontics to the rescue! At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we have many treatment options for both overbite and overjet to give you a smile you’re proud to wear.



What Causes an Excessive Overbite?


As we’ve mentioned, an excessive overbite is typically the result of skeletal or dental problems. Wondering what caused your deep bite? Let’s look a little closer at some of the most common causes of overbite.


Skeletal Causes of Deep Bite

  • Genetic causes: Since the size and shape of the teeth and jaw is typically inherited, genetics are the most common cause of excessive overbite. These genetic factors can create issues in the development of the jaw, often leading to a smaller lower jaw. This ultimately causes an overbite.


Dental Causes of Deep Bite

  • Misaligned teeth: Crooked, crowded and misaligned teeth can lead to dental overbite. When the teeth are overcrowded or out of alignment, it can cause a disproportionate overlap between the upper and lower teeth.
  • Missing lower teeth: If you’re missing a bottom tooth, it can create a similar effect to having a small lower jaw.


Other Causes of Deep Bite

  • Teeth grinding: Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding and excessive jaw pressure can lead to deep bite. 



Risks of Untreated Deep Bite


Often, patients with an excessive overbite think that the benefits of improving their smile are purely aesthetic. At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we don’t think you need any reason other than that! But in reality, this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. If you don’t treat a deep bite, you’re putting yourself at risk for a number of oral health complications, including tooth decay, excessive wear and tear, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, and more. So no matter what, fixing an overbite is good for both your health and your confidence.


Here are some things that can happen if you don’t fix deep bite:


  • Increased risk of injury to front upper teeth
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulties with eating and chewing
  • Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Self-consciousness about your smile
  • Excessive wear on certain teeth
  • Headaches, neck aches and ear pain due to jaw and TMJ pain
  • Breathing issues such as sleep apnea
  • Development of painful sores if the bottom teeth hit the roof the mouth (also called impinging overbite)


How to Fix an Overbite


Now that you know why you need to fix an overbite, let’s talk about how to do it. As with all orthodontic issues, the type of treatment for an overbite will depend on the severity of the case and the type of overbite. In most cases, deep bite can be corrected with braces or Invisalign. However, in severe cases of skeletal overbite, your orthodontist may recommend corrective jaw surgery prior to starting standard orthodontic treatment. But remember, this is an extreme scenario!


Of course, we will first need to do a thorough assessment of your teeth, jaw and mouth before determining any treatment plan. Consultations at Dr. Melanie Orthodontics are always free at both our San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe orthodontic offices, so there’s no obligation. In the meantime, here are some of the common types of treatment for excessive overbite.


Braces for Deep Bite


Braces are a fantastic option for correcting an overbite. Suitable for patients of all ages, braces are a tried-and-true method for straightening the teeth and aligning the jaw, and have been used for decades in the treatment of overbites of all kinds. At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we offer both metal braces and clear braces using our custom braces system.


Your treatment will start with a quick and painless video scan of your jaw, which Dr. Melanie will then use to map out your perfect smile. Our specialized software will choose braces brackets that are the ideal shape for your teeth, leading to the most accurate and beautiful results. We will then use custom 3D-printed trays to attach the brackets to your teeth in the exact right position. Since the braces are custom-made for your smile, you’ll have fewer adjustments and appointments throughout the course of your treatment. And as an added bonus, you’ll experience less inflammation, less pain and less time spent in braces — all with better outcomes!


Clear Aligners for Overbite


We understand that not everyone wants braces and that many patients would prefer a more discreet option for straightening their teeth. But can Invisalign fix an overbite? Do clear aligners work on severe cases? The answer is yes! Thanks to developments in orthodontic technology, you now have the ability to get the perfect smile you’ve always wanted by using a clear aligner system. So if you’re not loving the idea of brackets and wires, you’re in luck.


We’re proud to be leading Invisalign providers in San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe, but we also offer 3M Clarity aligners and our very own in-office aligner system, TLC aligners. We like to give you all the options! All clear aligners function in essentially the same way: they use a series of custom-made, clear, plastic aligners to gradually guide your teeth and jaw into the optimal position according to your orthodontist’s prescription. The type of clear aligners you choose will depend on your unique circumstances and preferences, as well as your orthodontist’s recommendation.

So do you have an excessive overbite? Wondering what your options are for improving your smile? Come see Dr. Melanie for a free consultation. We’ll assess your jaw, propose a treatment plan and chat about your options so you feel fully informed. We’re here to help you make the best decision for your teeth so you can show off that beautiful smile with confidence. Ready to take the next step towards a healthier smile? Contact Dr. Melanie Orthodontics today.

Dr. Melanie

Author Dr. Melanie

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