Orthodontics in
Houston, TX

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Orthodontist in Houston

Correcting Overbite

Overbite is actually quite common; few people have perfectly aligned teeth. Overbite describes the condition where the upper jaw is misaligned over the lower jaw, making it seem like the lower jaw is tucked behind the upper jaw. Many people have overbite to a small degree. However, when the misalignment is noticeable and disturbs the normal functions of chewing and speaking, corrective actions need to be made.

What Causes Overbite?

Overbite is mostly caused by genetics, as are the other forms of malocclusion (a medical term for misalignment), e.g. underbite and crossbite. It has been speculated that children who suck their thumbs in the transition period between losing baby teeth and growing permanent teeth increase their chances of having problems with overbite in the future.

Why is it Problematic?

The problem with overbite goes beyond just physical appearance. Severe overbites lead to jaw pain because the process of chewing is made highly inefficient, and the misalignment puts extra strains and pressures on the jaw bones and muscles. Also, because the bite is not coming down right when chewing and speaking, it leads to extra wear and tear on the enamel, which was not designed to handle increased pressure on the misaligned surfaces. Because of the weakened enamel, the chances of tooth decay and gum infection is greatly increased. In extreme cases, overbites can sometimes cause speech impairments when the tongue cannot hit the teeth the right way for enunciating sounds correctly.

Treatment

Overbite is typically very easily diagnosed, and the treatment is typically not invasive. It usually involves braces to correct the alignment of the teeth. Sometimes tooth extractions are necessary. In the most extreme cases, surgery can be used to pull back the jaw; however, this procedure is highly invasive and is only used when absolutely necessary. Overbites are most successfully fixed in children because their jaw is still growing. It can also be successfully treated in adults but may take a longer time with extra complexities.

Correcting Underbite

Last week, we posted about overbite, the most common form of malocclusion, or misalignment of the jaw and, as a result, teeth. Underbite is the opposite of overbite, as the names suggest, and describes the condition where the lower jaw protrudes outward and upward and overlaps with the upper teeth. Unlike overbite, however, underbite is very uncommon. It only affects between five and ten percent of the world’s population, though it is particularly common in those of Asian descent.

Causes

Like overbite, the causes of underbite usually has to do with hereditary genetics. However, other causes of underbite include thumb sucking, bad chewing habits, and abnormalities in the jaw bone.

Disadvantages

In most cases, underbite can go untreated without any serious implications.

Here is a list of possible disadvantages of uncorrected underbite:

  • Development of TMD
  • Jaw pain
  • Some don’t like the physical appearance of underbite
  • Increased chances of tooth decay
  • Difficulty enunciating while speaking
  • Increased chances of gum disease
  • Increased wear and tear on the enamel

Treatment

The reason many milder cases of underbite go untreated is that the correction process can take a long period of time. Of course, the severity of the malocclusion and the age of the patient largely factor into how complicated and lengthy correction needs to take. In children, correction is comparatively easier; many orthodontic treatments are available, most of which cause minimal interference with the child’s regular day-to-day activities.

In adults, however, because the skeletal structure of the jaw is already set and no longer growing, underbite can only be corrected with surgery, typically in conjunction with braces to fix the alignment.

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