Our Ottawa dentists are frequently asked if clear aligners can be used to correct an overbite. The short answer is yes, but first, we should define an overbite, why it should be corrected, and what the procedure entails.
An overbite (also referred to as a deep bite) is when your upper front teeth overlap with your lower front teeth. While most people have at least a little overbite (where the upper teeth extend over the bottom teeth by 2 to 4mm), it becomes an issue when it starts to cause problems such as wear on your teeth or jaw pain.
This occurs when the normal 2 to 4 mm is extended to 4 to 6 mm or greater, at which point the condition must be corrected. Overbites may be described by your dentist in terms of percentages. A percentage range of 5 to 25% is ideal.
The vertical nature of an overbite distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal and causes the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. But with an overbite, there's no angle as 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, causing the lower teeth to rest behind the upper teeth and move downwards as your teeth wear down. You'll notice that your upper teeth have more gum showing, and your upper front teeth are slightly lower than the teeth next to them (canines, or upper side teeth).
Overbites can happen if a patient had a tongue thrusting habit or was allowed to suck on an object - most often a thumb or pacifier - for too long as a child.
Chewing on objects such as pens, erasers or even biting their nails can also cause this problem. It’s not recommended to use clear aligners to fix an overbite if a skeletal problem is an underlying cause.
Why an Overbite Should be Fixed
With an overbite, the chance of wear on your teeth increases as your teeth touches 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
The pressure applied by your clear aligners will move your teeth into prescribed, corrected positions, leaving you with a straighter, more symmetrical smile. The clear aligners also move your gum at the same time, to keep the proportions in check.
You must wear your clear aligners for at least 22 hours per day, removing them only to eat, drink, and floss. The series of clear aligners will gradually shift your teeth, and you will change to a new set every 2 weeks. Your personalized treatment plan could include wearing as many as 26 trays, which equates to one tray every two weeks for a year.
Before you begin your treatment, your dentist will be able to show you a digital preview of how your new smile will look by the end of your treatment. The first step is to schedule a consultation with your dentist to find out if you are a candidate for clear aligners.