Patients often ask us whether an overbite can be fixed with clear aligners. While our short answer is yes, we should first look at what an overbite is, why it should be fixed and what the process involves.
Also called a deep bite, an overbite occurs when your upper front teeth overlap with your lower front teeth. While most people have at least a little overbite (where the upper teeth extend over the bottom teeth by 2 to 4 mm), this becomes an issue when it begins to cause problems such as wear on your teeth or pain in the jaw.
This can start to happen where the normal 2 to 4 mm is extended to 4 to 6 mm or greater. It's at this point that we'll need to correct the condition. You might hear your dentist describe overbites in terms of percentage. A range of 5 to 25 percent is ideal.
An overbite's vertical nature distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal and causes the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. However, with an overbite, there's no angle as the upper teeth remain straight or downward.
How to Fix an Overbite
When the upper teeth come down over the bottom teeth significantly, this condition should be treated to prevent cracking, excessive wear or chips in teeth.
The most common reason for overbites is that the lower jaw is just a bit smaller than the upper jaw, so the lower teeth rest behind the upper teeth and move downwards as wear on your teeth occurs. You’ll notice more gum tends to show on your upper teeth, and your upper front teeth are situated slightly lower than the teeth beside them (canines, or upper side teeth).
Overbites can happen if a patient had a tongue thrusting habit or was allowed to suck on an object - most often a thumb or pacifier - for too long as a child.
Chewing on objects such as pens, erasers or even biting their nails can also cause this problem. It’s not recommended to use clear aligners to fix an overbite if a skeletal problem is the underlying cause.
Why an Overbite Should be Fixed
With an overbite, the chance of wear on your teeth increases as your teeth touch each other each time you open and close your mouth. In the long term, they get shorter and thinner.
When you smile, your top teeth hide your bottom teeth and you may feel insecure or self-conscious flashing your grin for a photo, meeting new people or socializing.
How Clear Aligners Can Fix an Overbite
Clear aligners can be used to fix your mild or moderate overbite (if not caused by skeletal issues, which would likely require surgery) by applying continual pressure to the teeth.
Clear aligners can:
- Move your lower teeth downwards to where they should be
- Move your upper teeth upwards to where they should be
The pressure applied by your clear aligners will move your teeth into prescribed, corrected positions, leaving you with a straighter, more symmetrical smile. The clear aligners also move your gum at the same time, to keep the proportions in check.
You’ll need to wear your clear aligners for at least 22 hours per day, removing them to eat, drink and floss your teeth. The series of clear aligners will progressively shift your teeth, and you’ll switch to a new set about every 2 weeks. Your custom treatment plan may entail wearing as many as 26 trays, which equates to one tray every 2 weeks for one year.
Before you begin your treatment, your dentist will be able to show you a digital preview of how your new smile will look by the end of your treatment. The first step is to schedule a consultation with your dentist to find out if you are a candidate for clear aligners.