Our Kelowna dentists are often asked whether an overbite can be fixed with clear aligners. The short answer is yes, but first, we should look at what an overbite is, why it should be fixed and what the process entails.
An overbite (also referred to as a deep bite) is 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 4mm), it becomes an issue when it starts to cause problems such as wear on your teeth or jaw pain.
This starts to happen when 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.
In contrast to an overjet, which is horizontal and causes the upper teeth to protrude past the lower teeth at an angle, an overbite is vertical. In contrast, there is no angle with an overbite because 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 prevalent cause of overbites is when the lower jaw is slightly smaller than the upper jaw, causing the lower teeth to rest behind the upper teeth and move downwards as tooth wear occurs. Your upper teeth tend to display more gum tissue, and your upper front teeth are slightly lower than the teeth adjacent to 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 an underlying cause.
Why an Overbite Should be Fixed
With an overbite, the chance of wear on your teeth increases as your teeth touches 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 must wear your clear aligners for a minimum of 22 hours per day, removing them only to eat, drink, and floss your teeth. The series of aligners will gradually shift your teeth, and you will change to a new set approximately every two weeks. Your customized treatment plan may require wearing up to 26 trays, or one tray every two 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.