How Does an Overbite Occur?

Updated March 23, 2017

An overbite occurs when the top teeth clearly cover the teeth on the bottom. A very common condition can range from mild to very severe. Even in the most severe cases, people get dental care to repair the overbite. However, not all overbite case warrant a trip to the dentist, unless it was caused by another dental problem left unattended.

There are two types of overbites. The vertical overbite occurs when the top teeth overlap the lower teeth. A horizontal overbite or overjet occurs when the top teeth protrude too much. Both types of overbite can occur in the mouth of one patient.

Both the vertical and horizontal overbite are caused in many different ways. Genetics and/or some actions involving the mouth and teeth can cause and overbite. Some of these behavioural habits sucking fingers and thumbs this action causes the teeth to move and the jaw to deform. Nail biting and pencil chewing are also habits, which, if continued for many years, can also lead to overbites. Tongue thrusting is another way that children specifically get overbites. This action occurs as most children swallow. They thrust the tongue against the back of the teeth, pushing the teeth forward in the process.

A severe overbite can permanently damage more than the teeth. Front teeth that stick out farther than the bottom cause not only more trauma on the bottom teeth will, but also on the gums and roots of the teeth at the jaw line.

There are different ways to treat overbites. The most common approach is to use braces to fix the problem. The braces are tailored to the overbite sufferer's mouth, and tighten periodically as the teeth grown in line. This occurs over a lengthy period of time to help the teeth become more level and straight. After the braces, headgear is introduced, a brace strapped to the head and attached to the mouth to continue forcing teeth into position. Usually worn at night, the headgear is used to continue treating the overbite. Patients that suffer from overbite causing mouth habits may also continue their overbite treatment after the headgear, using a retainer indefinitely while sleeping.

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About the Author

Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.