Why an Overbite is Bad for Your Oral Health and How to Fix It
While most people have an overbite, a significant overbite can lead to several dental issues that can affect everything from your quality of sleep to your oral hygiene and more. Braces are a proven effective method for treating overbites. To understand the extent of the issues that overbites can cause and how to correct or prevent them, keep reading!
What is an Overbite?
Put simply, an overbite occurs when the top row of teeth extend over the bottom row. While most people have an overbite, it becomes an issue if the top row of teeth extend out too far, resulting in a misaligned bite.
What Problems Can Result from an Overbite?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Also known as sleep disordered breathing, obstructive sleep apnea is a serious disorder wherein a person’s airway becomes blocked during sleep, preventing them from breathing. If left unchecked, sleep apnea can result in a host of health concerns, including chronic lethargy and high-blood pressure.
Sleep apnea typically results from an involuntary constriction of the throat muscles. Similarly, an overbite contributes to this disorder by restricting proper breathing during sleep.
Common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Restless sleep
- Awakening suddenly during the night
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMJ)
A misaligned bite can often contribute to a condition called a temporomandibular disorder, more commonly known as TMJ. The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull and acts as a hinge, enabling the jaw to open and close. TMJ causes this joint and the muscles surrounding it to ache and pop when the jaw is in motion.
If you’re concerned that you’ve developed TMJ as a result of your overbite, be aware that common symptoms include:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Aching around the ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Aching face muscles
- Locking jaw
- Clicking or popping sound when opening your mouth
Would it surprise you to learn that a significant overbite can lead to gum disease? That’s right– leading dental health researchers have found that if an overbite is severe enough, the bottom teeth tend to rest against the gums behind the top row of teeth. This irritates the gums overtime, leading to swollen, inflamed, and damaged gum tissue. Once gum tissue is damaged, bacteria can find its way in, resulting in gum disease.
In instances of gum disease as the result of a severe overbite, simply treating gum disease won’t keep it from recurring unless the overbite itself is treated.
How is an Overbite Corrected?
If you suffer from a significant overbite, your dentist will likely recommend an orthodontic treatment, such as braces. Put simply, braces are a system of brackets affixed to your teeth and linked by wires. These wires are tightened during periodic trips to the orthodontist. The pressure applied to your teeth causes them to shift into a new position over time. Eventually, braces will reposition the teeth on your top row so that your overbite is less severe. With proper aftercare (including the use of a retainer) your teeth should remain permanently repositioned.
Can Invisalign Correct an Overbite?
While clear retainers like Invisalign have been proven effective for treating mild to moderate overbites, braces remain most orthodontists’ top choice for correcting significant overbites.
Fix Your Overbite
If you suffer from a significant overbite, our specialists at My Smile Orthodontics highly recommend treating it before any of the issues mentioned above start to develop. Remember– when it comes to your dental health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Waiting for more serious dental issues to arise before treating the underlying causes will often result in more time-consuming and costly dental treatments. If you suspect your overbite may be giving you issues, call or contact our orthodontic clinic online today to schedule your consultation.