Approximately 22% of people have an overbite–it is a common dental health issue. The causes of an overbite can be primarily from genetics influencing the shape of your jaw. However, using pacifiers and finger and thumb sucking late into a child’s development can cause an overbite. You may be self-conscious about your overbite, but there are more reasons to fix an overbite than just cosmetic. 

Our dentists at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry have helped many patients fix their overbites. In this article, we will discuss what an overbite is and several methods used to fix overbites with the help of your family dentist.

What is an Overbite?

An overbite is a malocclusion where the front teeth protrude outwards over the lower jaw. Another term for an overbite is “buck teeth,” which is not a medical term and may be considered as insensitive. When your mouth is closed, most people’s top teeth rest slightly in front of their bottom teeth with an overlap of 10 to 20% considered as “normal.” If your upper teeth extend beyond your lower teeth by more than 20%, you probably have an overbite.

What Causes an Overbite?

The position of your jaw causes an overbite. It is common when a person’s lower jaw is small in comparison to their upper jaw. If an overbite doesn’t run in your family, it can be caused by other factors, including:

  • Excessive thumb-sucking as a child
  • Excessive nail biting
  • Frequent tongue thrusting
  • Frequent lip sucking
  • Chronic teeth grinding, also known as bruxism
  • Using a pacifier frequently after three years old

What Problems Does an Overbite Cause?

Symptoms are visible in most cases but slight overbites can be less noticeable. Some common symptoms are:

  • Bad Bites – Teeth that are not aligned correctly can cause jaw pain and difficulty chewing and speaking. You may also have difficulties breathing especially while sleeping. You can develop sleep apnea, a condition where the airway is blocked while you sleep and endangers your health.
  • Jaw Problems – Poor jaw position can cause severe pain when left untreated. Temporomandibular disorders, known as TMD or TMJ, can present jaw pain and the sensation of your jaw feeling locked. You may have trouble fully opening or closing your mouth. When you have an overbite, you can experience pain and issues such as headaches, earaches, jaw stiffness, and even neck pain.
  • Dental Problems – An overbite can cause a higher risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities
  • Mental Health Issues – Mental health issues like low self-esteem, anxiety, and a reluctance to smile can result from having an overbite. When you are self-conscious about your teeth, you might not smile and laugh as frequently and, as a result, may not experience the feel-good endorphins that come from smiling.

How Can You Fix an Overbite?

If you are concerned about and are experiencing any of the symptoms from your overbite, come see us at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry. Here are the steps we will take to properly diagnose and treat your individual situation.


A proper diagnosis is important in designing a treatment plan for your overbite. A visual exam as well as dental X-rays will examine how your teeth align. If you have a slight overbite, we may recommend overbite correction exercises or tongue thrust exercises to train your jaw into different alignments. If you are experiencing TMJ or TMD, your dentist can use several proven treatments involving exercises and ways to realign your jaw to relieve pain and reduce symptoms. If your overbite is pronounced, your dentist may decide to refer you to an orthodontist who specializes in tooth and jaw alignment. 

Management & Treatment

If an overbite is diagnosed during childhood, treatment may involve:

  • Growth modification devices, called palate expanders, during growth spurts to reposition the jaw
  • Braces to slowly move all the teeth into the correct alignment
  • Baby teeth or permanent teeth can be removed to make more room for adult teeth
  • Retainers to keep the teeth in alignment after braces

For adults, treatment may involve:

  • Clear braces like Invisalign to move only the teeth affected by the overbite
  • Surgery to correct jaw alignment
  • Teeth removal to allow the remaining teeth more room

Can You Prevent an Overbite from Occurring?

When a person is predisposed to having an overbite from genetics, it may be something that is going to occur naturally and may not be prevented. However, in children, certain behaviors can cause an overbite to form. Being disciplined in avoiding or limiting these behaviors can prevent overbites:

  • Avoiding sippy cups with spill-proof valves
  • Discouraging thumb sucking after infancy
  • Limiting pacifier use around age 3

It’s important to schedule a dental visit by age 1 in order to ensure there are no signs of gum or tooth decay as well as to be sure their teeth are erupting and developing properly. Soon after the baby’s teeth begin to emerge, you should book that first dental appointment.

Contact Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry for Overbite Correction

If you have a child who has an overbite, or if you as an adult have an overbite, please schedule an appointment with Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry for proper diagnosis and treatment. Our team of dental professionals gives each patient one-on-one, individual attention to assist in correcting dental problems that can cause pain and self-esteem issues. Call our Holly Springs dentist at 919-600-6262 or our dentist in Cary at 919-467-2203 to schedule your appointment or get started by filling out the form below.

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