A question our dentists at Vancouver are often asked is if clear aligners can be used to help correct an overbite. One answer is yes, but today we explain what an overbite is, why it needs to be fixed as well as what the process is.
What are Overbites?
An overbite (also called a deep bite) happens when your upper front teeth overlap with your lower front teeth. The majority of people have at least a small overbite (where the upper teeth extend over the bottom teeth by 2 to 4mm), which turns into a problem when it begins to cause issues such as jaw pain or wear on your teeth.
This occurs when the normal 2 to 4 mm extends to 4 to 6mm or more, at this point the condition will have to be fixed. Your dentist might explain overbites in terms of percentages where a range of 5 to 25 percent is ideal.
The vertical characteristic of an overbite distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal and makes the upper teeth protrude beyond the bottom teeth at an angle. But, with an overbite, there's no angle as the upper teeth stay downward or straight.
How are overbites fixed?
When the upper teeth come down over the bottom teeth significantly, this condition should be treated to prevent cracking, excessive wear or chips in teeth.
The most common reason for overbites is that the lower jaw is just a bit smaller than the upper jaw, so the lower teeth rest behind the upper teeth and move downwards as wear on your teeth occurs. You’ll notice more gum tends to show on your upper teeth, and your upper front teeth are situated slightly lower than the teeth beside them (canines, or upper side teeth).
Overbites can happen if a patient had a tongue-thrusting habit or was allowed to suck on an object - most often a thumb or pacifier - for too long as a child.
Chewing on objects such as pens, erasers or even biting their nails can also cause this problem. It’s not recommended to use clear aligners to fix an overbite if a skeletal problem is the underlying cause.
Why should I fix my overbite?
With an overbite, the chance of wear on your teeth increases as your teeth touch each other each time you open and close your mouth. In the long term, they get shorter and thinner.
When you smile, your top teeth hide your bottom teeth and you may feel insecure or self-conscious flashing your grin for a photo, meeting new people, or socializing.
How Can Clear Aligners Fix Overbites?
You can use clear aligners to correct your overbite if it's mild or moderate (if it isn't caused by skeletal problems, which will probably require surgery) by applying constant pressure to the teeth.
Clear aligners can:
- Move your lower teeth downwards to where they should be
- Move your upper teeth upwards to where they should be
The pressure clear aligners apply will shift your teeth into corrected, prescribed locations, possibly giving you a straighter, more symmetrical smile. At the same time, the clear aligners will also move your gums, to keep the proportions in check.
You’ll have to wear your clear aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day, taking them out to eat, drink and floss your teeth. The series of clear aligners will progressively shift your teeth, and you’ll switch to a new set about every 2 weeks. Your custom treatment plan may entail wearing as many as 26 trays, which equates to one tray every 2 weeks for one year.
Before your treatment starts, your dentist will be able to show you a digital preview of how your smile could look once your treatment is over. The first step is to schedule a consultation with your dentist to find out if you are a candidate for clear aligners.