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How Do Orthodontists Fix Overbites in Children and Adults?

young kid at checking into orthodontist office

Can braces fix an overbite?” is one of the most frequently asked questions by parents with children who have an overbite. It’s also a valid question for teens and adults to ask. 

An overbite is usually visible in children early on as they grow and develop. However, an overbite can also become more prominent in teens or adults as they age. 

Whether you’re a parent with a child who has an overbite or you’re an adult looking for solutions for your overbite, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’re sharing expert insight into overbites and answering questions like:

  • How do orthodontists fix overbites?
  • Do you need braces to fix an overbite?
  • How long do overbites take to fix?

Let’s jump on in!

Note: There are technically two terms to consider here: “overbite” and “overjet.” “Overbite” officially refers to the vertical overlap of the front teeth. However, most of the general public uses that term to refer to the horizontal overlap of the teeth. “Overjet” is the official term for the horizontal overlap of the teeth, but the general public rarely uses this term. For our discussion today, we’ll primarily use “overbite” to refer to any horizontal tooth overlap that may need orthodontic treatment.

What is an Overbite?

An overbite (also called a deep bite or closed bite) is a type of jaw misalignment (malocclusion). Specifically, it’s when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth more than expected. 

When the mouth is closed, there should be a slight overlap of the upper teeth with the bottom teeth of about 20%. Anything greater than 20% is considered an overbite and may need orthodontic treatment.

Some overbites will be noticeable, while others may be more subtle. The best way to determine if an overbite is present is to see an orthodontist. An orthodontist can take some x-rays to look at your teeth and understand the severity of the overbite.

Children should see an orthodontist around seven, as their mouth is still developing and adult teeth have started to come in. Early orthodontic treatment in kids can help fix an overbite effectively. 

Adults can also benefit from seeing an orthodontist. There are treatments available for adult overbites, so seeking a professional opinion is valuable for anyone at any age.  

What Causes an Overbite?

Genetic/developmental factors and certain personal habits can cause overbites in children and adults. Let’s look at these two factors in more detail so you’ll better understand overbites and where they come from.

Genetic and Developmental Causes of an Overbite

Unfortunately, some overbites are simply genetic. Children with parents who have an overbite are typically more likely to develop one. There’s nothing you can necessarily do to prevent it, but you can get your child into an orthodontist at age seven to proactively begin the treatment process.

Additionally, some children are born with smaller lower jaws or develop other jaw-related issues. These issues can also lead to an overbite if not recognized and fixed once the child is old enough to receive treatment.

Habits That Cause Overbites

Some habits can lead to an increased risk of an overbite.

External factors that can cause overbites in children are:

  • Prolonged thumb-sucking in infants and toddlers
  • Extended pacifier use in children

Adults can develop an overbite due to:

Some people may be more likely to develop an overbite genetically. But genetics aside, taking proactive measures against the habits mentioned above can help decrease the risk of developing an overbite.

Now you know more about overbites and how they form. Let’s continue our conversation and dig into the different overbite treatments. 

How Do Orthodontists Fix Overbites?

If you have an overbite, there are ways to fix it. 

The first step to overbite treatment is to see an orthodontist. They can provide professional insight into the nature and severity of your overbite. 

Depending on your age and unique situation, your orthodontist may choose from a few different treatment options, including braces or surgery.

Here are three of the most frequent questions people have when considering an overbite treatment. 

Can Braces Fix an Overbite?

The most common treatment for an overbite is braces. However, braces alone will not typically fix an overbite. 

Usually, orthodontists use braces in conjunction with one or more of the following:

  • Rubber bands
  • Palatal expander
  • Jaw surgery
  • Tooth extraction

Below is a quick rundown of each of these methods, so you’ll know what to expect when attending an orthodontic consultation. 

Braces with Rubber Bands

Once the orthodontist places braces (the brackets and archwire) on your teeth, your orthodontist may also require you to wear rubber bands.

Rubber bands are small and made of safe material. They attach to the brackets on your upper and lower teeth to apply an extra amount of pressure to specific teeth. Your orthodontist will show you how to attach them for the best overbite braces result.

You can remove rubber bands when eating and brushing and replace them once you finish.

Palatal Expander

Sometimes a child’s jaw is too small or overcrowded. A device called a palatal expander is temporarily placed in the mouth to open up the jaw. Over weeks or months, the expander slowly (and with little to no pain) widens the palate. 

Palatal expanders work best in children while they’re still growing and developing. Often, adults won’t receive one for an overbite treatment with braces

Jaw Surgery

If the overbite is more serious, surgery may be necessary to position the jaw correctly. 

However, jaw surgery alone can’t fully fix an overbite. Here are the steps that typically take place when someone with an overbite needs jaw surgery:

  1. The orthodontist places braces on the patient’s teeth
  2. The patient undergoes 9-12 months of a braces treatment to prepare for the jaw surgery
  3. The jaw surgery is performed with the braces still on the patient’s teeth
  4. The orthodontist resumes the braces treatment to achieve correct alignment

Jaw surgery is an excellent example of how orthodontists use braces and other procedures in tandem to fix an overbite. 

Tooth Extraction

Orthodontists use tooth extraction when overcrowding is a significant problem. 

For tooth extraction, the surgeon first removes two permanent upper teeth to create more space in the mouth. Then, the orthodontist will place braces and any other necessary appliances to begin aligning the teeth and correcting the bite. The removal of the upper teeth can allow the orthodontist to bring the upper front teeth back to correct the overbite.

Do You Need Braces for an Overbite?

We mentioned above that braces alone couldn’t fix an overbite. Although this is true, braces (or another alignment tool, like Invisalign) and their companion appliances are necessary to bring your teeth into complete alignment. Even if you need jaw surgery or a tooth extraction, your orthodontist will also use braces in conjunction with these procedures to fully fix an overbite.

An overbite won’t fix itself, but braces along with other complementary procedures can provide a healthy bite. It’s necessary to talk to a trusted orthodontist and follow their recommendations for the best results.

How Long Do You Need Braces for an Overbite?

The answer to “how long do braces take for an overbite?” is entirely dependent on your unique situation. However, the average overbite treatment length is two years. A severe overbite may take longer.

There isn’t much you can do to accelerate your overbite treatment. But you can follow your orthodontist’s recommendations to ensure your treatment doesn’t take longer than the expected timeframe. 

Some positive actions you can take are:

  • Practice good oral hygiene to decrease your risk of gingivitis or other setbacks
  • Wear your rubber bands regularly and adhering to other necessary practices
  • Attend your orthodontic appointments when scheduled

Following these guidelines and listening to your orthodontist will aid in a successful overbite treatment.

Richmond’s Best Overbite Treatment with Braces

An overbite is a prevalent alignment issue where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth more than expected. 

Sometimes genetics or developmental factors contribute to an overbite. Other times, habits like prolonged thumb sucking, grinding, and chewing hard objects can also produce an overbite.

If you or your child has an overbite, you may be wondering:

  • How do orthodontists fix overbites? 
  • How long do overbites take to fix?
  • Do you need braces to fix an overbite?  

Braces, in addition to other methods and appliances, are necessary to fix an overbite. Sometimes braces and rubber bands are enough to treat an overbite, but sometimes you may need jaw surgery or tooth extraction.

At Bates Orthodontics, we’re ready and able to provide professional insight for overbites in children and adults. Our orthodontist believes in taking an honest, conservative approach to orthodontic care. An open, conservative approach means that we’ll give you all the facts about your situation and only suggest treatment if it’s necessary. If treatment is needed, we’ll ensure you get the best treatment from start to finish.

Book your free consultation online today. We’re excited to meet you and provide you with the professional orthodontic care you’re looking for.