Why Ignoring Your Overbite Can Lead to a Slippery Slope

It is truly amazing how the human body works. Every part or system in our bodies is interconnected and when one is off line you can feel the effects in more than just the initial trouble spot. Take for instance your teeth.

Many people see the appearance of their smile to just be an aesthetic thing, but how your smile looks can affect not only your oral health but also your facial structure as well as your overall health. While your overbite might seem like it is just a small physical flaw, ignoring your overbite can lead to a slippery slope of health concerns.

What exactly is an overbite?

An overbite is when your upper jaw overlaps your lower jaw. It is common for some patients to have a slight overbite of just one or two millimeters, but others have more serious bite issues. A malocclusion or deep overbite is when the overlap between the upper and lower teeth is more pronounced. Often with malocclusion, the patient has a recessive chin which affects the shape of his or her face. These patients tend to have shorter, rounder faces that make them look older.

Malocclusion is not just about aesthetics though. Patients with a deep overbite usually also suffer headaches, TMJ pain and tend to clench their jaw and grind their teeth a lot.

What causes an overbite?

Genetics can play a big part in whether you have an overbite or not, but certain chronic bad habits can also contribute to the problem. For example, thumb sucking. If your child always has their thumb in their mouth, the thrusting motion of the tongue might be pushing the upper teeth and bone into a more forward position while the thumb itself pushes the lower teeth back.

Your speech can also be affected by an overbite. When you have an overbite, you tend to speak more with your tongue which can affect the clarity of your words and might even give you a lisp when you speak.

Why is early treatment important?

If not treated properly at an early age, the overbite will only deepen over time and as the teeth are worn down by all the clenching and grinding the overbite will just become more pronounced.

If your overbite makes it difficult to properly clean your teeth and gums, then this could also lead to tooth decay, gum disease and even tooth loss when not treated properly. Also because you are even more pain because of the headaches and tooth and jaw pain, your nutrition will also suffer. Who feels like eating when you are in pain?

As you can see, if left unchecked, an overbite can lead to a slippery slope of lots of health problems. By choosing early orthodontic care, you will save yourself from having more complicated oral or facial surgery later in life.

What are my treatment options?

For treatment of TMJ pain and discomfort, splint therapy can be used to reposition the lower jaw into more natural position thereby releasing the extra pressure put on the blood vessels and nerves of the joint. Then orthodontic braces are used to keep the jaw from shifting until it is properly stabilized.
In some cases, the orthodontist will just recommend going straight to braces to realign your teeth and jaw.

Today there are many options to choose from when it comes to braces. Traditional metal braces consist of a combination of brackets and wires to gradually reposition your teeth. The brackets are adhered to your teeth with a special glue. The combination of brackets and wires help with the gradual repositioning of the teeth.

If you would prefer less noticeable braces, there are ceramic, tooth-colored braces and Invisalign braces. Invisalign are basically removable clear plastic aligners that are switched out about every two weeks as the orthodontist slowly moves your teeth into a better alignment. Lingual braces are attached to the backs of your teeth instead of the front so they are less visible. Orthodontists will also attach rubber bands to the braces to guide the teeth movement.

There are pros and cons to each type of treatment. The traditional metal braces are more noticeable in your mouth and come with food and drink restrictions. Also, because they are permanently attached to your teeth until the orthodontist removes them, proper brushing and flossing can be more challenging.

Because Invisalign aligners are clear, they are less noticeable in your mouth and because you take them out to eat and drink there are no dietary restrictions like there are with metal or even ceramic braces. However, you will need to a new set of aligners about every two weeks during treatment so you will need to factor in more frequent trips to the orthodontist.

Lingual braces are also less noticeable because they are on the backs of your teeth not the front, but not every orthodontist offers this type of treatment because it takes more specialized skill. Also, proper brushing and flossing can be harder when food and plaque get stuck in the brackets on the backs of your teeth.

While the less noticeable braces might seem like the best choice, keep in mind that for certain conditions, the traditional metal braces will give you the best results.

Before you make a final decisions, take the time to research and shop around for the best orthodontist. Set up a couple of consultations so you can be evaluated and get a few recommendations. Once you have enough information, weigh all the pros and cons of each type of treatment as well as the cost. Also keep in mind that you will want to choose an orthodontist who is skilled, but one who you are also comfortable with. You want someone who always keeps you best interest at heart.

The treatments are mostly comparative in price, but sometimes Invisalign or the clear braces can cost a little more. Also see how much your insurance will cover and talk to the orthodontists about any payment options they have available.

Regardless of which treatment option you choose, don’t forget the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene. Throughout the treatment process, you need to continue to brush and floss at least twice a day and still make your regular dental checkups every six months. Any cavities, loss of teeth or infection will delay your treatment.

What to learn more about the importance of treating your overbite? Contact Orthodontics Limited for more information.