Can clear aligners help correct an overbite? While the short answer is yes, in this blog, our Comox dentists explain what overbites are and how clear aligners might be able to help treat them.
What are Overbites?
An overbite (also known as a deep bite) is when your upper front teeth overlap with your lower front teeth. While the majority of people have at least a small overbite (where the upper teeth extend over the bottom teeth by 2 to 4mm), it turns into a problem when it begins to cause problems such as wear on your teeth or jaw pain.
This starts to happen where the normal 2 to 4 mm is extended to 4 to 6mm or greater, at which point the condition will need correction. You might hear your dentist describe overbites in terms of percentage. A range of 5 to 25 percent is ideal.
The vertical nature of an overbite distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal and causes the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. But with an overbite, there's no angle as the upper teeth remain straight or downward.
How to Treat an Overbite
When the upper teeth significantly come down over the bottom teeth, it's best to have this condition treated in order to prevent chips in teeth, excessive wear, or cracking.
The most common cause of overbites is when 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).
Patients can develop overbites if they had a tongue-thrusting habit or were allowed to suck on an object - usually 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 an underlying cause.
Why Overbites Should be Corrected
With an overbite, your teeth have a higher chance of getting worn as they touch each other every time you open and close your mouth. In the long term, they become thinner and shorter.
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 are Able to Fix Overbites
Clear aligners could be used to correct mild or moderate overbites (if not caused by skeletal issues, which will probably need surgery) by applying constant pressure to the teeth.
Clear aligners can:
- Shift your upper teeth upwards to where they should be
- Shift your lower teeth downwards to where they should be
The pressure your clear aligners apply will move your teeth into prescribed, corrected positions, providing 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 have to wear your clear aligners for a minimum of 22 hours a day, taking them to eat, drink and floss your teeth. The series of clear aligners will progressively shift your teeth, and you’ll change to a new set approximately every 2 weeks. Your custom treatment plan could require you to wear as many as 26 trays, which equates to one tray every 2 weeks for one year.
Prior to starting 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.