If you have a bite issue as an adult, then you’re in good company. Whether it’s an overbite, an underbite, overjet, or another issue, bite issues happen often.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you should know about overbite, including its common causes and the best treatment options for adults.
What is Overbite?
Overbite is an extremely common bite issue in which the top teeth or jaw extend beyond the lower teeth. In mild cases, the teeth only overlap a little bit, and the bottom teeth are still visible. When an overbite is extremely severe, the bottom teeth can be completely overlapped by the top ones.
Overbite has several causes, the most common being genetics. Your genes have a profound effect on how your teeth grow in as well as the size and positioning of your jaw. And for many people, an overbite occurs simply because the bottom jawbone is smaller than the top one. That said, childhood habits—drinking from a bottle, sucking a thumb or pacifier, and pushing on the teeth with the tongue—can add to an overbite.
Overbite is sometimes mistaken for its sister condition, overjet. However, in an overjet, the top teeth are misaligned because the teeth themselves angle forward. In this guide, we’ll be covering overbite only. To learn more about overjet, check out our guide on correcting overjet.
How Do I Know If I Have an Overbite?
Sometimes, you can spot an overbite yourself. If you bite down on your molars (so the back molars line up), where do your front teeth end up? Do they line up exactly? Do the top teeth come over the bottom? Do the bottom teeth come over the edge of the top teeth? If your top teeth come further forward than the bottom ones or if they actually cover your bottom teeth, then you have an overbite.
Of course, this isn’t a scientific method. And in some cases, you won’t be able to spot it yourself. Your dentist will be able to tell you for sure, and more importantly, they’ll tell you if it’s a problem you need to correct.
Do I Need to Correct My Overbite?
Overbite is one of the most common bite issues today, and it rarely ever causes medical issues. There’s very little risk to your teeth and overall health if you decide not to treat it. For most people, treating an overbite is simply an aesthetic benefit. That said, people who have a severe case of overbite may experience jaw pain, odd speech patterns, and extra wear and tear on the enamel.
Your dentist will tell you if your bite is severe enough to require correction. But if you’d like to reduce the appearance of your overbite or just simply improve how your smile looks, you have several options.
Treating Adult Overbite From Home
Invisalign was the first company to introduce clear aligners, but they didn’t have a monopoly for long. Several other companies created their own clear aligner trays. At first, these Invisalign competitors were only available through a dentist or an orthodontist. But by 2014, companies like Smile Direct Club cut out the middleman and provided home-based clear aligners directly to the consumer.
If you choose to use home teeth aligners to correct your overbite, here’s what you can expect. Instead of having an initial consultation with your orthodontist, you’ll order an impression kit and create 3D molds of your teeth. The home teeth aligner company you choose uses those molds to confirm that you’re a candidate for treatment. And if you are, they’ll create a set of custom aligners for you. By wearing each aligner for the prescribed amount of time, you’ll be able to gradually shift your teeth into their new positions.
That’s the same principle as Invisalign, really. But there are a few differences to note. For one thing, at-home teeth aligners can only treat minor-to-moderate cosmetic cases. They can’t add on elastics and attachments like Invisalign does. So if your overbite is severe, then home teeth aligners can’t correct it.
Most at-home aligner providers are focused on moving the front six upper and lower teeth (otherwise known as “the social six”). The exception to this is Candid, which is the only at-home aligner provider able to move your molars. This allows them to treat slightly more complex cases than their competitors, though still limited when compared to in-office options.
But for those with a minor overbite, home teeth aligners are much cheaper than Invisalign. They’re typically faster, too.
Other Treatment Options: Braces, Invisalign & Surgery
Many people can use home aligners to correct an overbite, but if your case is tougher, then you’ll need a more “heavy-duty” treatment method. This is especially true if your jaw bone is too small to line up with the upper teeth or it’s incorrectly positioned.
In those cases, you’ll need to use a treatment method that can help shift your jaw bone. Braces, Invisalign, and corrective surgery are the most common methods.
Braces often get a bad wrap for being uncomfortable, ugly, and pricey. And technically, those are all true criticisms. The wires and brackets used in braces can cut into your cheeks and gums (especially when they’re first installed). And braces typically cost around $5,000.
But despite those downsides, braces are still around today for a good reason. They’re the most universally-accepted method to straighten your teeth. And when it comes to correcting your overbite, braces will be able to handle your case—even if your overbite is caused by the size or positioning of your jaw bone.
As a whole, braces allow for more nuanced movements thanks to metal appliances and elastics. Over the course of your treatment (which usually lasts between 1.5-2 years), your orthodontist can gradually move both your teeth and your jaw into perfect alignment.
Invisalign first entered the teeth alignment scene just before 2000. And when they did, they really shook things up by correcting two of the biggest complaints about braces: ugliness and discomfort. Instead of using wires and brackets, Invisalign uses clear trays molded to your teeth. The trays are nearly invisible, and there’s no metal in your mouth to cut up your cheeks.
That said, you will still experience some discomfort while wearing your Invisalign aligners. That’s inevitable when you’re shifting your teeth from their positions. And Invisalign isn’t really any faster or cheaper than traditional braces; the average cost is also around $5,000. So if you’re looking for the fastest method to treat your bite issue, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Like braces, Invisalign can treat most overbites regardless of the cause. That’s because Invisalign uses proprietary SmartForce attachments and elastics in addition to your aligner trays. Those extras allow for the nuanced movements necessary to treat both your jaw and your teeth.
Corrective surgery is definitely the most drastic method on this list, but fortunately, for most people, it’s not necessary. Your care provider will only recommend surgery if all the other options we’ve discussed will not correct your overbite. If you go this route, your surgeon will shift your jaw into alignment by force.
Understandably, surgery is the most expensive method to correct an overbite. It will also cause you the most discomfort (especially up front). The recovery time is significant, and in many cases, you’ll need to adjust your eating habits for a while. Surgery isn’t right for everyone. But it’s certainly the most powerful method.
Which Treatment Option Is Right For You?
Overbite is a fairly common dental issue, and it rarely causes long-term problems. But if you want to perfect your grin by treating your overbite, then you’re in good company.
Everyone’s smile is unique, including all the charms and imperfections. And a unique smile needs a unique treatment. What works to treat one person won’t necessarily be right for you. But if you decide to treat your overbite, odds are you’ll be able to use braces, Invisalign, or home teeth aligners to get the results you want. We hope this guide will help you make the decision that’s right for you!