How to Fix an Overbite

Medically Reviewed by a
Licensed DDS

Table of Contents

  1. What Is an Overbite
  2. Diagnosing an Overbite
  3. Treating an Overbite
  4. Addressing an Overbite
  5. Alternative Options
  6. References

All healthy mouths have a slight overbite. Your teeth are made to nest together, with upper teeth sliding over their lower counterparts. But if you tap your teeth together and a large gap appears between your teeth, you could have an overbite.

Years ago, when dentists were asked how to fix an overbite, they immediately suggested braces. But now, aligners are often recommended.

You could work with your dentist and choose aligners made by Invisalign, or you could save time and money with at-home, doctor-supervised aligner therapy.

What Is an Overbite?

Most people have an overbite measuring a millimeter or two. When you close your mouth fully, your upper teeth slip over your lower teeth, and a gap separates the set.

If your gap is larger than a few millimeters, you could have an overbite. The space might be so small that you don't notice it. Or, it could be so large that you can slide a finger in front of your lower teeth when your mouth is closed and never touch the back of your top teeth.

Significant overbites are relatively rare. In studies, about 8 percent of people have this problem. But many people have a mild overbite.

Leaving it untreated could cause problems, such as:

  • Sore muscles. When your teeth don't nest properly, your jaw works harder. You could develop pain, especially after eating tough or chewy foods.
  • Infected wounds. If your upper teeth touch your lower jaw, you could develop injuries. And since your mouth is filled with bacteria, those wounds could become infected.
  • Chewing difficulties. It's hard to bite into a crisp apple or a fresh cob of corn when your teeth don't fit together properly.

You may also find that your overbite gets you unwanted attention. Your lower jaw may seem to disappear when people look at your profile. While you might try to cover up the problem with scarves and turtlenecks, some people may still notice it and talk about it.

How Do Doctors Diagnose an Overbite?

During your regular dental exams, your doctor looks at your teeth and jaws. Measurements of the gap between your teeth when your mouth is closed can confirm an overbite diagnosis.

If the gap between your upper and lower teeth is more than a few millimeters, your doctor may perform x-rays and other diagnostic tests to understand why your teeth don't fit together perfectly.

When the results are back, you and your doctor can discuss how to fix your overbite and get you the smile you've always wanted.

Both aligners and braces can help to fix an overbite, but one option involves plenty of appointments and high fees, while the other could help your smile just as well and save your schedule and your pocketbook.

How Braces Tackle an Overbite

If you do have an overbite, your doctor might suggest traditional treatment, which involves braces.

Your treatment plan could involve:

  • Brackets. Choose from metal, ceramic, or clear hardware that's glued to the front or the back of your teeth.
  • Wires. Teeth connect with a tiny strip of metal that changes shape during each follow-up visit.
  • Elastics. Rubber bands and other similar tools apply extra pressure to teeth that resist the pressure of wires.

People wear braces for about a year, if not longer. While braces can move your teeth, they do come with significant side effects.

The inside of your mouth isn't designed to remain in close contact with metal for months. You may develop wounds on your:

Cheeks
Brackets on the outside of your teeth can dig into your cheeks, especially if you sleep on your side. If you're hit in the face at any point, the trauma to your cheeks can be significant.
Tongue
You may be tempted to run your tongue over the wires and brackets, and you could develop tiny cuts and sores.
Gums
Close attention to hygiene is critical while you wear braces, but it's hard to brush and impossible to floss in a traditional manner. Skip those steps, and your gums could swell and be damaged.
You must also spend a significant amount of time with your orthodontist during braces treatment. You can't tighten wires or replace brackets at home. You'll need visits for that work.

How to Address an Overbite With Invisalign

You're not stuck with wearing braces to fix an overbite. You could opt for clear aligner trays instead. If you work with your dentist, you'll likely use trays made by Invisalign.

The Invisalign system involves:

  • Dental molds. Your dentist takes impressions of your teeth and loads the results into a computer.
  • Clear trays. You're sent home from your first visit with at least one set of trays that sit on your teeth. You'll wear them the majority of the day, and when you do, they'll gradually push your teeth into their proper positions.
  • Repeat visits. You'll visit your doctor for checkups and new trays. Some patients head back monthly, and others have a bit more time between visits.

On average, people spend less time in treatment when they choose Invisalign over braces. Studies also suggest that aligners like Invisalign are effective in fixing an overbite.

Aligners like this are smooth, so they're less likely to cut up your lips, tongue, and gums. They're clear, so they're a bit harder for others to see. And they can be removed for dental cleanings, so you're less likely to negatively affect your oral health during treatment.

But Invisalign isn't less expensive than most forms of braces. You still must see your doctor regularly, and markups for office space and staff are tacked onto each bill you pay.

How to Fix an Overbite With Other Aligners

Some dental insurance plans help to cover the cost of braces and aligners. But just 77 percent of Americans have dental insurance. And some have plans that don't cover orthodontic care.

If you can't pay for braces or Invisalign, you do have options. At-home, doctor-supervised aligners can help to straighten your teeth and fix an overbite in some mild or moderate cases. They also apply gentle pressure to your teeth, just like braces and Invisalign do. But they don't require regular in-person office visits, so you don't pay the associated markup costs.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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