Our Grande Prairie dentists are frequently asked if clear aligners can be used to correct an overbite. Yes, but first we should define what an overbite is, why it should be corrected, and what the procedure entails.
When your upper front teeth overlap your lower front teeth, this is referred to as an overbite. While most people have some degree of overbite (where the upper teeth extend beyond the bottom teeth by two to four millimetres), it becomes an issue when it causes problems such as tooth wear or jaw pain.
This occurs when the normal range of 2 to 4 mm is increased to 4 to 6 mm or greater, at which point the condition requires correction. You may hear your dentist refer to overbites in percentage terms. A range of 5% to 25% is optimal.
An overbite's vertical nature distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal and causes the upper teeth to protrude at an angle past the bottom teeth. However, 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 common cause of overbites is that the lower jaw is slightly smaller than the upper jaw, which causes the lower teeth to rest behind the upper teeth and gradually move downward as your teeth wear. You'll notice that your upper teeth show more gum than your lower teeth, and your upper front teeth are slightly lower than the teeth adjacent to them (canines, or upper side teeth).
Overbites can occur if a patient has a tongue-thrusting habit or was allowed to suck on an object for an extended period as a child - most commonly a thumb or pacifier.
This problem can also be exacerbated by chewing on objects such as pens, erasers, or even their nails. It is not recommended to use clear aligners to correct an overbite if the underlying cause is a skeletal issue.
Why an Overbite Should be Fixed
Below are the reasons why an overbite should be fixed if you have one.
With an overbite, the chance of wear on your teeth increases as your teeth touch 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
Your clear aligners will apply pressure to your teeth to move them into prescribed, corrected positions, leaving you with a straighter, more symmetrical smile. Additionally, the clear aligners move your gums to maintain proper proportions.
You must wear your clear aligners for a minimum of 22 hours per day, removing them only to eat, drink, and floss. Your teeth will gradually shift as a series of clear aligners are worn, and you'll switch to a new set approximately every two weeks. Your personalized treatment plan may require you to wear up to 26 trays, which equates to one tray every two weeks for a year.
Your dentist will be able to show you a digital preview of how your new smile will look after your treatment before you begin. To begin, schedule an appointment with your dentist to determine if you are a candidate for clear aligners.