Overbite Correction: How to Fix an Overbite
- An overbite is an orthodontic issue that occurs when your upper teeth do not align properly with your lower teeth.
- Overbites can cause aesthetic concerns or problems with chewing and speaking.
- Traditionally, metal braces are used to fix an overbite.
- Surgery may be needed in severe cases.
- Advancements in orthodontics have resulted in other options, such as clear aligners.
Those with an overbite know how frustrating it can be to dislike the appearance of your jawline or smile. And those who have had an overbite corrected know how fantastic it feels to be free of the grips of overbite—and actually be excited to grin, rather than trying to hide your smile at all costs.
Chances are if you have an overbite and you know it, you want to fix it. You might think you're destined to suffer through bulky metal braces, but you'll be happy to learn that traditional braces no longer define overbite correction. Ahead, learn about your options to fix an overbite.
What is an overbite?
If you have an overbite, which is a type of malocclusion, it means your top teeth overlap your bottom teeth to a greater extent than what's considered common. Contrary to popular belief, an overbite does not refer to how far your front teeth stick out compared to your bottom teeth—an overbite refers to the amount of vertical overlap. Overjet is the horizontal overlap that many people confuse overbite with. Overbites are also called deep bites.
Most orthodontists consider a normal overbite to be anywhere from two to four millimeters. However, some people have overbites greater than four millimeters, which can cause problems with chewing and speaking. Large overbites also commonly cause aesthetic concern—many people don't like the way their overbite looks.
Different types of overbites
Technically, "overbite" refers to one specific type of malocclusion. To clear up any confusion, here's a rundown of some common types of bite problems:
- Overbite: Excessive vertical overlap of top teeth over bottom teeth
- Overjet: Excessive horizontal overlap of top teeth over bottom teeth
- Underbite: All lower teeth sit in front of top teeth (entire lower jaw is shifted forward)
- Crossbite: Back top teeth sit inside back lower teeth, or at least one front top tooth sits inside a lower top tooth
- Open bite: Back teeth meet but front teeth don't, or vice versa
Other orthodontic issues include crowded teeth (too close together) and gapped teeth (too far apart), which often occur in conjunction with an overbite or a different bite issue.
What is an overbite correction?
An overbite correction fixes an overbite. Overbite correction methods, such as traditional braces, clear aligners or, in severe cases, surgery, can fix an overbite while also restoring natural chewing patterns and enhancing your appearance.
How to fix an overbite
No matter what treatment option you choose, the end goal of an overbite correction remains the same: to reduce the vertical overlap between your top and bottom teeth (and let your pearly whites shine, obviously).
Here are the three main ways to fix an overbite:
Clear aligners: Before invisible aligners, people with minor overbites had to have metal braces. No more! Most clear aligner brands can fix minor cases of overbite in as few as six months.
Metal braces: For cases that aren't quite minor but not quite severe, traditional metal braces can provide relatively quick results. Ask your orthodontist about clear or tooth-colored brackets—which is the closest option to clear aligners—and you can still enjoy your smile.
Surgery: Severe overbites, which are usually caused by skeletal misalignments, might require surgery. While this might not be what you want to hear from your orthodontist, a severe overbite isn't something to leave untreated (more on that below). Overbite surgery involves setting your jaw into proper alignment so your teeth don't excessively overlap anymore.
Cost of an overbite correction
The cost of an overbite correction will vary depending on the type of correction, the orthodontist you go to, and whether your insurance covers any of the cost. Clear aligners typically cost between $1,500 to $3,000, with orthodontist-supervised clear aligners, like Invisalign, running from $3,000 to $8,000. Traditional braces will cost you anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more than $10,000, depending on the length of treatment and other factors.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know if I have an overbite?
The question isn't really about whether you have an overbite but how severe your overbite is. If you struggle to close your mouth fully or have problems chewing food or speaking, you might have an excessive overbite. An orthodontist can diagnose you with an overbite or any other bite problem.
Why is it important to correct an overbite?
Many people want their overbite corrected for aesthetic reasons. A more natural bite can enhance your jawline and overall appearance as well as make it more comfortable to smile and speak. Correcting an overbite can also improve chewing patterns and relieve jaw pain and headaches related to an improper bite.
Severe overbites, if not treated, can cause gum pain and gum damage because the upper teeth may bite into the lower gums. The constant pressure of the upper teeth in the gums can lead to gum recession. The lower teeth may also bite into the roof of the mouth, which can cause pain. If your overbite makes it hard to brush and floss your teeth properly, you're also at risk for gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health complications.
Can you get invisible braces to fix an overbite?
Clear aligners can certainly correct an overbite. For mild cases of overbite or overjet, clear aligners are a solid treatment option. Invisalign, for example, can treat mild cases of overbite, as well as underbite, crossbite, open bite, gapped teeth, and crowded teeth.
While you can order clear aligners through the mail, it's always a good idea to consult an orthodontist about your overbite concerns. Your orthodontist may approve mail-order clear aligners, or they may suggest using Invisalign or traditional braces.
How long does it take to correct an overbite?
Your length of treatment depends on the severity of your overbite, as well as the type of treatment you choose.
For example, if you have a minor overbite, you can probably achieve pretty rapid results with clear aligners. The average length of treatment with clear aligners is six months to a year across most brands. The average length of treatment with metal braces, on the other hand, is one to three years.
Your treatment might be shorter or longer for either type of treatment, depending on your specific bite scenario.
If you have a moderate to severe overbite, traditional braces will probably get you the best (and safest) results. Talk to your orthodontist about what's right for you. A professional who knows your teeth and your dental history can best advise you on your options for correcting an overbite.
Amanda Capritto, CPT, CHC, CF-L1 is a health and wellness writer as well as a certified personal trainer, health coach, and CrossFit enthusiast. In addition to writing about health, she loves to write about travel, fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared in well-known digital publications such as CNET, LIVESTRONG, Verywell, SlickDeals, Health Journal, THE WELL, and more.