The prospect of braces can send even the most level-headed child or adult into a tizzy. Aside from all that metal in the mouth, which can scratch the inside of your mouth and make it awkward to eat or do just about anything, they can wreck your beautiful smile with all that unsightly metal. Then there’s the awkward and convoluted headgear, which can make it look like you belong more on a spaceship than on Planet Earth.
But if you or your child has an overbite, there are only so many options. However, what works for you depends on the severity of the overbite and if something as drastic as braces or headgear is needed. The most common solution is braces, though aligners are becoming more popular in recent years and can fix that overbite without the discomfort and burden of braces.
What Is an Overbite?
When most people use the term overbite, they’re referring to upper teeth that sit noticeably in front of the lower teeth. Also known as buck teeth, an overbite isn’t painful or known as a health risk, though it can lead to more dental issues later in life. Overbites range from mild to severe — depending on how far the top teeth extend past the bottom row of teeth — and in addition to braces, they can be corrected by various treatments.
There’s also a type of overbite that isn’t really an overbite at all, and some people may use the terms interchangeably. As opposed to an overbite, an overjet is a protrusion of the front teeth due to the angle of the top teeth. Based on the type of overbite you have — and whether it’s actually an overjet, not an overbite, your dentist may suggest braces or some other fix. But most people aren’t exactly excited at the prospect of wearing braces, so it’s common to seek out alternatives to braces to help remedy their overbite.
Causes of Overbites
While the most common causes of overbites are due to genetic factors such as the shape of your jaw, an overbite can be caused by overcrowding or missing teeth in the lower jaw. It’s also possible for certain types of behavior to create or exacerbate an overbite, particularly in early childhood, such as with excessive pacifier use, thumb sucking, bottle use, tongue thrusting, nail biting, chewing on pencils and other objects, as well as mouth breathing.
If you’re seeing any of these behaviors in your child, you could have one of the best alternatives to braces for an overbite right in your back pocket — try to discourage or stop the behavior! The reason it matters is that while the jaw is still growing, it’s easy to negatively affect that growth with behaviors that can wreak havoc on your jaw alignment.
Braces For Overbites?
Unfortunately, the most common fix for an overbite is braces. Not only can they remedy that overbite, but they’re also ideal for straightening crooked teeth and bringing that misaligned jaw back into alignment. While ceramic braces do exist, most braces are metal and they are glued directly on the front of the teeth with a metal wire across. This wire may sometimes be clear, but no matter what kind of braces you get, it’s definitely noticeable in pictures and in person.
But if braces are always the answer, what about alternatives to braces for that overbite? Since braces are typically worn for years, they can be a frustrating fix for an overbite issue — in fact, they visibly make your smile worse before they can make it better, and the high cost of braces is also another reason why people may want to look past braces for their overbite treatment. Additionally braces need tightening about every month or so, and that means heading back to the office regularly until the overbite issue is solved.
Slowly but surely, braces push the teeth into the optimal position, though we’d be lying if we told you that braces didn’t hurt or weren’t uncomfortable for most people. Even after those braces come off, you may still have to continue to wear a retainer at night or during the day, depending on your need and your orthodontist’s advice. The retainer is so that your teeth don’t return to the same position that you had before braces, giving you the same overbite that you tried to get rid of in the first place.
Other Alternatives To Braces for Overbite Issues
As one of the main alternatives to braces for an overbite, clear aligners like Invisalign can help correct overbite issues, but they’re expensive and need to be worn for more than 22 hours of the day — including nights! Unlike braces, however, you can take your clear aligners out if they’re giving you trouble, which is particularly handy during meals and cleanings — but it’s not like you can pop them in and have straighter teeth without all the extra work and time.
Another common alternative to braces for an overbite is headgear. Honestly, though, it’s likely the worst-case scenario for a growing teen or child that would never choose to have such a monstrosity attached to their face. That said, headgear is one of the few ways to fix a jaw issue that could be causing that overbite as the headgear encourages the jaw to adhere to a more beneficial position while the headgear is in place.
On the extreme end of the scale is jaw surgery. It’s not really an alternative to braces for an overbite because the severity of the overbite is what will determine whether or not surgery is needed. Besides, after the surgery many patients end up having to wear braces anyway to help correct their more severe overbite issues.
Beyond working with your child on any behavioral problems that may be causing an overbite, the alternatives to braces are typically more convoluted than just going with braces in the first place. Even clear aligners aren’t perfect because they’re typically more expensive than braces and you have to replace those aligners every couple weeks.
One option is to go with a snap-on veneer. It won’t fix your overbite issue, but it can help hide some of the tell-tale signs of an overbite, which may be all that you need to get through that upcoming event. The best part is that they’re relatively inexpensive and it only takes about a month from ordering to delivery, and that means a more beautiful smile is only a few weeks away. Get started here.