We see a lot of parents who come into our practice to ask whether or not they should “fix” their child’s overbite. They have valid concerns for their child’s health and wellbeing.
Overbites might seem like a trivial problem when a child is young, but that’s not exactly true. As orthodontists, we have seen untreated overbites that create painful issues down the road that are much more difficult to correct in an adult.
In other words, correcting an overbite when a person is a child is a good idea since the issue itself can cause major problems later in life.
What is an overbite?
An overbite is a form of “malocclusion”, or a misaligned position of the teeth when the jaws are closed, come in a few forms. There is an underbite when the lower jaw is forward so that the lower teeth rest outside of the upper teeth (or the upper teeth sit inside the lower).
A crossbite is when the teeth and jaws are misaligned sides to side — either from left to right or right to left.
And finally, the overbite, when the upper jaw (and teeth) overlaps your lower jaw (and teeth). Malocclusions can range in severity but even in mild cases, setting it right as a child means prevention of later pain and discomfort.
Why fix children overbite?
Fixing an overbite will generally have a long-term net positive effect. When teeth are misaligned, there are a few things that might happen, including:
- Gum damage — either the back gums of the upper teeth and/or the front gums of the lower teeth might wear down.
- Pain — over time, the misalignment may create chronic pain in the jaw, or even headaches and other pain throughout the body, or it may lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
- Tooth damage — the teeth will wear down unevenly with every chew, causing the enamel to wear down and even cracks or chips in the teeth. This will speed up the need for repairs and replacements.
- Difficulty in speaking — an overbite can make learning certain speech sounds more difficult and result in a young person having a hard time articulating certain words.
- Difficulty chewing — some foods are more difficult to eat without the full faculty of the teeth and jaw.
What can be done about child’s overbite?
Orthodontic treatments are usually the best way forward, though we won’t know for certain until we take a look. There are several orthodontic treatments available and often braces are a great place to start.
The placement of elastics in addition to braces are highly effective for moving the jaw. In severe cases, the patient may require surgery but that is not something we can determine without a proper assessment.
If you live in Surrey or the surrounding area and are looking for an orthodontist for yourself or your child, we are happy to help! An overbite is fixable and it is a great idea to start when a person is young so don’t delay! Come in for a consultation and we would be happy to discuss a plan.
Dr. Lesley Williams is a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics. She grew up in Victoria, BC with her parents and two sisters.
After being awarded her Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree in 1989, Dr. Williams then spent six years as a dentist in general practice before deciding that she wanted to further her education by undertaking three extra years of highly specialized training in orthodontics. With her Masters in Science (Orthodontics) degree under her belt, she went on to sit the Orthodontic Specialty Fellowship exams through the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. To date, her status as an active leader in the orthodontic profession means that she holds the following qualifications and positions:
- Certified Specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada
- Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics
- Examiner for the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and the American Board of Orthodontics.
- Former president of the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists (representing 2900 orthodontists from the 4 western Canadian provinces and 8 western American states).
- Active member of the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists.