Did you know that 8% of Americans have a severe overbite (6mm or more)? It might not seem like a huge portion of the population, but if you’re part of it, then it can really impact your quality of life.

An overbite (also known as buck teeth) is where your front teeth protrude and are further out than your bottom teeth. Dentists call it a “malocclusion”, which is a misalignment of your teeth.

So what causes overbites and how can you fix them? Read on to learn more about overbite causes and solutions.

Overbite Causes

What causes an overbite? Well, in the majority of cases, overbites are hereditary. So if you’ve got close relatives that have overbites, that’s probably why you’ve got one as well.

Overbites are also hereditary in that your jaw genetics can affect how your teeth are aligned.

However, there are also environmental factors that can cause you to develop an overbite. Here are the most common overbite causes.

Nail Biting and Bruxism

Both of these can result from stress and anxiety. Nail biting is a bad habit anyway since it can lead to infection, due to picked skin and small open wounds.

Bruxism is something harder to catch, especially if you live alone. While it can be a daytime habit, most people grind their teeth in their sleep. Most people don’t know that they even do so until their partner tells them they’ve overheard it in the night.

Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use

Thumb sucking and pacifier use is normal behavior for babies and toddlers. However, once their teeth come in, thumb sucking and pacifier use can cause them to be misaligned.

Tongue Thrusting

This is a muscular imbalance that can cause you to press your tongue too far forward in your mouth. This can happen while speaking or swallowing. For some people, this can even happen without doing anything.

Complications That Can Come From an Overbite

Overbites aren’t just an aesthetic issue. In fact, for some, the misalignment can be so slight that you can’t even tell it’s there. You just might have some issues with opening and closing your mouth fully.

So what can an overbite cause?

One major problem those with overbites face is speech problems. Your teeth play an important role in speech, as the mouth forms words by having the tongue strike them. If your teeth aren’t in the right place, then your speech is affected, sometimes so badly that people don’t understand you well.

Also, you might be more prone to getting cavities and gum disease. It can also cause your tooth enamel to wear away quicker than normal. All of these things can affect your overall health.

If your misalignment is bad enough, you might even have breathing issues. This can disrupt your quality of sleep since you’re struggling to catch your breath. For some, they might even have sleep apnea.

Lastly, you might be wondering: can an overbite cause TMJ? The answer is yes! Overbites can cause a number of temporomandibular disorders (TMD), including TMJ.

And even if your overbite isn’t bad enough to cause TMDs, it can still cause pain in your jaws. Some misalignments can also instigate serious headaches. So if your overbite is causing jaw pain, as well as headaches, that’s quite typical.

How to Fix Overbites

Do you suspect that you have an overbite? Then the best step to take is to see your dentist. They can take a look and confirm whether or not you’ve got a malocclusion.

If they confirm that you have an overbite, they can then give you a referral to an orthodontist. This is the dental professional who will put together a customized treatment plan to fix your overbite.

Here are some methods used for successful overbite treatments.

Palate Expanders

A dental professional can fit teenagers with palate expanders. That way, while they’re having growth spurts, the expanders can ensure their teeth grow in correctly.

Braces and Invisalign

When you think of braces and Invisalign, you probably think of patients using them to fix slightly crooked teeth. However, they can also be used to treat overbites!

Both of these options can slowly move teeth into the correct position. Sometimes, some teeth will need to be removed to make room for proper alignment. Also, after you’re done with the braces, you might have to wear retainers to keep the teeth in place.

Learn more here if you want to find out more about Invisalign for overbites.

Overbite Prevention

They say “prevention is better than cure”, and that’s true here. While you can’t help your genetics, you can help your environment and how your teeth come in.

Prevention is best done at an early age. If you’ve got a baby, don’t let them suck their thumbs or use pacifiers past the age of 3. You should also avoid using those toddler sippy cups that are spill-proof since they encourage tongue thrusting.

You should also schedule regular dentist visits for you and your family. That way, if anyone has an overbite, it can be caught early on. It’ll be easier to fix then!

See a Dentist if You Think You Have an Overbite

You’ve now learned about overbite causes, as well as what complications can arise if you leave the issue there.

Thankfully, there are effective ways to deal with overbites, depending on what caused yours in the first place. So it’s important for you to see a dentist, have them examine your teeth, and make a referral to a skilled orthodontist so you can get the proper treatment you need.

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