Does My Child’s Overbite Need to be Corrected?

Does your child have an overbite that seems to be becoming more prominent? Have you considered braces for your children, but thought they might be too expensive or too much of a hassle? It may be time to rethink getting braces for your child because an untreated overbite can be very damaging for the teeth. My staff and I have treated many patients in their 20’s and 30’s that present with severe upper and/or lower teeth wear or gum tissue problems that were created by untreated overbites. Fortunately, we have helped correct many cases of overbites in children before they had the chance to progress and cause any complications. 

Understanding Overbites

Sometimes, orthodontists will talk about correcting a child’s “bite” without explaining exactly what that means. Simply put, a person’s bite is the way the teeth naturally align and come together. Our teeth are designed to work and fit together, but they may or may not stack correctly in the front. Because we use our upper and lower front teeth to cut through (incise) food, a slight overlap of upper and lower lower teeth is natural and expected. However, when the top and bottom teeth cover too much of each other an unwanted deep overbite occurs. 
Sometimes, the front teeth do not cover the bottom teeth at all, or worse, a space exists between the upper and lower teeth. The technical term to describe this situation is: anterior opened bite and is also an undesirable bite because, patients with this bite cannot cut through their food. A common cause of open bites in children may be prolonged thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.

Deep bites and open bites describe the vertical overlap or lack of vertical overlap of the anterior teeth.
The horizontal distance between the upper and lower anterior teeth is described as overjet. For a functional bite, the upper anterior teeth need to be slightly in front of the lower anterior teeth and this is why, when overjet is to large or nonexistent, treatment is required to correct the condition.

And, because we all know, that a patient can have as many diseases as they please, some patients’ bites can present as a mix of bad vertical and horizontal overlap , and the underliningproblems can be either dental (teeth) or skeletal (jaw) in nature. This is why, as a child with an overbite continues to grow, the displaced teeth can be the source for many future problems.

Why Early Treatment is Important

If your child has a minor or mild overbite, it may be within the natural range and might not need to be corrected. However, you should schedule a consultation if you feel your child’s overbite is substantial, progressing, or already beginning to cause problems. Depending on severity of the overbite, a number of issues can arise, including:

  • Positioning of teeth that affect appearance, self-esteem or confidence
  • Speech impediments
  • Problems eating
  • Upper anterior teeth gradually breaking down anterior lower teeth
  • Lower teeth cutting into the upper gums or the roof of the mouth
  • Pain within the jaw and gums
  • Worn tooth enamel and increased risk of cavities and gum disease

Early intervention is key to avoiding any of these issues from developing or progressing.

How to Correct Overbites

Adults with overbites may have fewer treatment options, depending on the health of their teeth and gums. In children the treatment of deep bite, open bites, no-overjet or large overjet comes with many options. Depending on what the underlining cause of the bad bite is, braces only or braces and appliances will be used to correct the bite and to create a beautiful, healthy smile.