The clinical definition of an “overbite” is the overlapping of teeth over the lower teeth by greater than 5 millimeters. It’s rare for people’s top and bottom teeth to fit together perfectly, but a deviation between 3 and 5 millimeters is deemed standard. More than half the cases of dental discomfort we observe in children is related to overbite malocclusion. The condition can be inherited from parents, but also exacerbated by extensive thumb-sucking, pacifier use, or tongue-thrusting at a young age.
Symptoms may include difficulty chewing, jaw pain when eating chewy foods like pizza, frequent headaches, and early jawbone joint wear-and-tear.
Some patients may not suffer adverse effects at all, while others may experience:
On a positive note, Suffolk County cosmetic dentists Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry have three different treatment options for dental patients to find relief from painful overbites.
Invisalign is a newer treatment option that uses clear, plastic retainer trays worn by the patient for at least 22 hours a day – basically whenever the patient is not eating or drinking. As the teeth shift into proper alignment, new retainers will be fitted using 3-D computer technology, every two weeks. A noticeable difference will be observed after nine months to a year. People like this option because it’s subtle-looking, more comfortable than metal and easier to clean. Patients simply remove the trays to eat or drink and brush them with toothpaste before putting them back in. Though easy, it does take time, and some patients tell us they’ve lost a few pounds from Invisalign treatment because they don’t want to go through the brushing protocol whenever they feel like snacking! Invisalign works best in patients with a mild-to-moderate overbite.
Metal braces are the first choice for patients with severe overbites. First, Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot fasten metal brackets to the patient’s teeth and connect metal straightening wires to align the teeth. Once the teeth are straightened, rubber bands, coils and springs are added to the braces to shift the jawline into place as well. Treatment can take six months to two years. While more expensive, clear, ceramic braces that match the teeth are available for people who don’t care for the look of metal in their mouths. However, a disadvantage of either type of braces is that it is more difficult to prevent tooth decay and gum problems due to the difficulty of brushing and flossing the fixtures in the mouth.
Sometimes teeth may need to be extracted to let the teeth shift more freely on their own. In rare cases, Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot may need to reposition the jaw surgically. Oral surgery is typically only considered in adult patients whose jaws are finished developing. Prior to surgery, patients undergo a comprehensive consultation and complete photographic analysis. Usually orthodontic braces are used to align the arches and straighten teeth before the surgeon goes in to move the upper jaw and reposition with plates, wires, rubber bands and screws. Bone grafts may be necessary to align the lower jaw into the proper position. Patients have the procedure under general anesthesia and receive pain medication to get through the post-op period. A modified diet will be necessary at first, but most patients are feeling back to normal within three months.
If your overbite is causing grief, stop by to see how your troubles can be alleviated this year! Dr. Elliot and Dr. Nick are experienced, state and board-certified maxillofacial surgeons serving all of Suffolk County, including Long Island. Their warm, compassionate care, efficient office, and expertise in dentistry have earned them nothing but five-star reviews on Google+ and Facebook. Call 631-246-4992 to book your free consultation.
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“Have never had things explained as clearly and he has such a warm, personable manner. It was very refreshing.”
- Susan S.
"I needed work and had anxiety. The entire office made me feel welcome and as calm as I could get. I am almost finished and so happy with the people and the work done."
"As a resident of both New York City and Long Island I am so pleased to have discovered this practice. Up on all the latest dental procedures and techniques makes necessary treatment easy and well done!"
"I would recommend using Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry. They helped me change the way I look dramatically. Thanks so much!"