Do I Have an Overbite? How to Tell & What to Do

dentures being held by a dentist in blue scrubs

Overbites are quite common, and many people have them. But what happens if your overbite is too big or too small? Are their complications associated with having an overbite? While everyone’s teeth are different, there are a few common concerns that come with having a problematic overbite. We’re here to break down what an overbite is, how to tell if you have a problematic overbite and your options on how to fix it.

Do I Have an Overbite?

Simply put, an overbite is when your top teeth overlap your bottom teeth. Most people have overbites, and an overbite is not usually considered problematic. However, when an overbite is too big or too small, it can result in a few different issues.

A big, or deep, overbite — also known as a class 2 malocclusion — is a severe overbite where the top teeth significantly overlap the bottom teeth. You may be able to feel a gap between your front top and bottom teeth or even be able to push your tongue between your teeth when your jaw is clenched.

A small overbite usually means the space between your front top and bottom teeth is significantly reduced or nonexistent. If you have little to no overbite — or an anterior open bite — your teeth will usually look inline, and you may be able to see a gap between your front teeth when your jaw is clenched

Two Types of Overbites

Typically, there are two types of overbites — horizontal and vertical. A horizontal overbite is when the top teeth extend past the bottom teeth, whereas a vertical overbite is when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth. In a horizontal overbite, the bottom jaw may protrude toward the neck creating the overbite. In a vertical overbite, the jaws may be aligned, but the top teeth still overlap the bottom. Additionally, an overbite can be classified as either skeletal or dental.

A skeletal overbite occurs when your jaw is too small or too big to fit your teeth properly. Genetics can often cause this type of overbite.

A dental overbite occurs when your teeth aren’t properly aligned, but the top and bottom jaw are aligned. Certain factors can worsen a dental overbite, especially if a skeletal overbite is already present. These factors can include:

  • Thumb sucking or using a pacifier long-term as a child
  • Frequently chewing on pencils/pens
  • Prolonged bottle use as a child
  • Extended pushing against the front teeth with tongue
  • Frequent nail biting

Is Having an Overbite Bad?

Having an overbite isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. But an overbite that’s too big or too small can have some adverse side effects.

  • There’s a higher risk of tooth decay. People with overbites may develop cavities easier, as the overbite can wear away enamel faster, leaving the teeth prone to cavities.
  • There’s a higher risk for gum disease. In some instances, a severe overbite can cause the lower front teeth to touch the upper gum line on the back of the front teeth. Over time, this contact can cause the gums to recede, making them prone to gum disease.
  • Chewing can be difficult. A severe overbite can make it difficult to chew, which may lead to discomfort or pain when eating.
  • It can affect speech. An overbite can affect speech or cause an impediment since a person may feel the need to overcompensate when sounding out specific words or sounds.
  • It can cause jaw pain and sleep apnoea. If the jaw is misaligned, an overbite can cause jaw pain, neck stiffness or pain, headaches, and more. Additionally, a misaligned jaw can be set too far back toward the neck, causing sleep apnoea.
  • It can be embarrassing. An overbite may not always be severe or problem-causing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be embarrassing! If your overbite is causing you to smile less or feel ashamed to show your teeth, it’s time to start looking at a fix.

While you may not feel like you should immediately address your overbite, it may be best to have it checked by your dentists sooner rather than later. If an overbite is left untreated, some or all of these symptoms can occur and can almost certainly get worse over time. Fixing your overbite now may save you from a lot of pain down the road!

How To Fix an Overbite

Are you tired of your overbite and all the symptoms that come along with it? You don’t have to live with your overbite. You can fix it with Invisalign! But how can Invisalign fix an overbite? It all starts with clear, discreet braces that are custom-fitted to help straighten your teeth. Though standard braces are an option, they typically take longer than Invisalign Clear Braces and involve cleaning around brackets and wires.

Invisalign Clear Braces come custom-fitted for you with no wires, no brackets, no food restrictions, and most people won’t even know you’re wearing them! During treatment, you replace your Invisalign aligners every week until your treatment period is over. Then all that’s left to do is love your new smile!

Ready to get your Invisalign Clear Braces? Sign up for a virtual appointment today via the Smile Virtual app to ask us about Invisalign treatment options and let’s talk about transforming your smile with help from Missoula’s best dentist, Dr. Dan.