An overbite is a common type of malocclusion (orthodontist speak for a misaligned bite) where the top teeth excessively overlap the bottom teeth. It can cause functional problems, aesthetic concerns, and potential oral health issues.Â
Clear aligners are an excellent alternative to braces and a popular option with my El Dorado Hills orthodontic patients. But can they fix an overbite? Thatâ€™s exactly what Iâ€™ll be covering in this post.Â
What is an Overbite?
As noted above, an overbite, also known as a deep bite, is a type of malocclusion. While people often use the terms overbite and overjet interchangeably, theyâ€™re actually two different issues, though you can have both at the same time.Â
Overbite is the vertical measurement of the degree that the top front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth. Overjet, on the other hand, sometimes called â€œbuck teeth,â€ refers to the horizontal distance between the upper and lower front teeth.Â
A bit of an overbite is ideal. But when the top teeth cover too much of the bottom teeth, itâ€™s considered a problem. In severe cases, the lower teeth can even bite into the roof of the mouth.Â
An overbite can be dental in nature (i.e., related to the position of the teeth) or skeletal (related to the position of the jaw). When an overbite is skeletal, itâ€™s often due to the angle of the lower jawline.Â
Why Does an Overbite Need to be Treated?
An overbite, or deep bite, can cause complications if itâ€™s not treated, including:
- An increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease – Having misaligned teeth and a bad bite makes it more difficult to remove plaque, increasing your susceptibility to cavities and gum disease. Additionally, if the bottom teeth hit the tissue behind the top teeth or prematurely hit the front teeth, the repeated contact can cause gum recession or trauma and loosening of the front teeth.
- Excessive enamel wear – When you have an overbite, the teeth donâ€™t come together properly. Certain teeth will wear down prematurely, which can leave them vulnerable to oral disease like tooth decay and impact the appearance of your smile.Â
- Difficulty chewing – A moderate to severe overbite makes biting and chewing food more challenging.Â
- Speech issues – A significant overbite may interfere with the ability to clearly produce some speech sounds.Â
- Jaw and TMJ pain – A misaligned bite puts pressure on the jaw, chewing muscles, and temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Eventually, this can cause pain and dysfunction.Â
Traditional Ways of Treating an Overbite
For years, most patients got braces for an overbite. The brackets and wires combined with orthodontic rubber bands helped to shift the teeth into place and improve the relationship between the upper and lower arches.Â
Braces are still a great option for overbite correction. At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, my team and I use modern braces, as well as InBraceÂ®, to more comfortably and efficiently transform your bite and smile. While I donâ€™t often use headgear, an expander or other appliances could be needed as part of phase 1 treatment to guide jaw growth.Â
Can Clear Aligners Fix an Overbite?
While it depends on the individual case and its severity, clear aligners can fix an overbite in many instances when planned properly by an experienced orthodontist. Visiting a certified specialist in orthodontics with clear aligner experience is key. Clear aligners like InvisalignÂ® are a tool, and their effectiveness depends on the individual planning your treatment.Â
Orthodontists have two to three additional years of training in a residency program after completing dental school. Itâ€™s during our residency that we build expertise and gain clinical experience in treating dental and facial abnormalities with appliances, such as clear aligners.Â
So the question, â€œCan Clear Aligners Fix an Overbite?â€ is a bit of a tricky one, because it is the orthodontistâ€™s planning that fixes the overbite, much like how a golfer uses their technique and knowledge of the course to score under par (they could probably take my sonâ€™s junior left handed clubs and still do better than most of us).Â Â Â
How Does the Clear Aligner Treatment
Â Process Work for an Overbite?
The process starts with an accurate diagnosis. After I examine you and look at your diagnostic records, I can determine if clear aligners are the best route and see if the problem is originating in the upper or lower jaw.Â
A team member will then take digital scans of your teeth and gums and our software will create a computerized, 3D model of your mouth. Iâ€™ll use the model to determine when and where each individual tooth will move. This lets me plan your treatment to address the specific problem areas with the goal of either shifting the lower teeth forward or the upper teeth back to ensure they come together correctly.Â
The Invisalign lab will fabricate a series of clear aligners based on my specifications. Youâ€™ll wear your aligners for about 22 hours per day, changing to your next set every one to two weeks as your new smile gradually takes shape.Â
When using Invisalign for overbite correction, the clear aligners will likely be paired with auxiliaries, which weâ€™ll get to next. However, youâ€™ll still benefit from virtually invisible, convenient treatment.Â
Correcting Mild Overbites With Clear Aligners
Clear aligners are a great option for mild overbites. Sometimes, especially if you have a dental overbite, clear aligners alone might do the trick. As the aligners exert steady pressure and shift your teeth into place, the relationship between the upper and lower jaw improves and the overbite is corrected.
Correcting Moderate Overbites With Clear Aligners
If you have a moderate overbite, Invsialign can still be successful. However, I may need to combine your clear aligners with other techniques to get the best results.Â
In order to match the top and bottom teeth in the bite, I commonly use Invisalign attachments and rubber bands. The attachments are tooth-colored buttons that are bonded to certain teeth to give your aligners something to push on to achieve more complex tooth movements.Â
Your aligners will straighten the teeth in each arch independently of one another. So adding rubber bands provides the connective force needed to align the jaw and create an ideal bite.Â
Correcting Severe Overbites with Clear Aligners
Thanks to advancements in clear aligners and treatment planning technology, more cases than ever before can be treated without jaw surgery using clear aligners.
If a severe overbite is diagnosed in childhood, I may recommend an interceptive phase. This is where we use an appliance to guide growth while a patient is still growing and has some of their baby teeth. Then, after a resting period, we can kick off phase 2 treatment with Invisalign Teen to finetune the bite and shift the permanent teeth into place.
In teenagers, I can still typically treat a severe overbite using clear aligners. The aligners will need help from attachments, rubber bands, and, sometimes, other auxiliaries to correct the skeletal discrepancy.Â
For adults with a severe overbite, clear aligners arenâ€™t necessarily ruled out. Oftentimes, historic wear on the teeth has already happened for adults, so correcting an overbite may indeed involve some work with your dentist to get to the most ideal bite.
Again, attachments and other extras will be used in conjunction with the aligners. In certain instances, corrective jaw surgery could be the best way to get the most stable, dramatic improvement in patients who are done growing.Â
How Long Does Clear Aligner Treatment Take to Fix an Overbite?
For most of my El Dorado Hills clear aligner patients, treatment lasts between six and 24 months. The exact duration will depend on the severity of your overbite, your individual treatment needs, and how your teeth and jaw respond to the force exerted by your aligners.Â
The Bottom Line:
In most cases, my team and I can use clear aligners like Invisalign for overbite correction. The specifics of treatment will depend on the severity of your case and other factors.Â
Itâ€™s important to see a certified specialist in orthodontics for clear aligner treatment, because we have the training and knowledge to safely and effectively straighten your teeth and align your bite.Â
Clear Aligners in El Dorado Hills, CA
Ready to find out if clear aligners are the best way to fix your overbite? Schedule a complimentary consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics in El Dorado Hills today! My team and I provide high-tech, expert care in a fun, friendly atmosphere.