If you grew up with an overbite, you probably took a lot of teasing from your peers. Now that you are an adult, you may be considering visiting an orthodontist to get that overbite taken care of. While there is no guarantee the overbite will disappear completely, adult orthodontics can improve both the function and appearance of your bite. Here's what to expect from an orthodontist as an adult.
Before your orthodontist can recommend corrective measures to take care of your overbite, he will need to do a thorough evaluation of your dental health and cause of your overbite. In medical terms, if your teeth do not align properly is it called a malocclusion. An overbite is a type of malocclusion when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth. It is called retrognathism. There are two classes of retrognathism; class 1 refers to teeth that overlap slightly and class 2 refers to a severe overbite. The type of overbite you have plays a major role in whether the overbite can be corrected completely as an adult. Class 1 overbites are typically easier to correct than class 2 overbites are.
Your orthodontist will examine the size and shape of both your teeth and your jaw. In some instances, an overbite is caused by hereditary conditions, such as large teeth or a small jaw. It can also be caused by birth defects, such as a cleft palate. Other causes include thumb sucking, jaw injuries and extra or lost teeth. The cause of your overbite will also play a role in how completely the condition can be corrected.
Root resorption can also play a part in whether your overbite can be correctly completely. Many adults experience some root resorption. When this happens, your body reabsorbs part of the root of the tooth and leaves little bone to anchor the tooth. If you have experienced root resorption, applying orthodontic devices to your teeth may cause your teeth to loosen and you may lose some of your teeth. Your orthodontist will assess the roots of your teeth and the bone structure of your jaw to determine if you face this risk.
The orthodontic procedures used on adults are similar to those used for children, but adults face more limitations. Because the adult jaw is no longer growing, it is not as malleable as a child's jaw. This makes moving misaligned teeth more difficult. Adults also may have had teeth extracted and the space left behind after an extraction may not be suitable for moving a tooth into that position. Sometimes orthodontists will extract one or more teeth to make room for realigning your bite; other times, they may need to add prosthetic bone to the area where a tooth was extracted. Orthodontic devices, like braces, can be applied to your teeth, but they may not produce the results they would if you were a child.
Because it is more difficult to re-align adult teeth your orthodontist may aim for creating a functional bite that allows you to eat properly and speak clearly, but he may not be able to get rid of your overbite completely. Many adults see great improvement in both function and appearance, but the results depend on the reason for the overbite, the condition of your teeth and jaw and whether you wish to have prosthetic bone added (or teeth extracted) to make it easier to straighten your teeth.
Talk to an orthodontist at a clinic like Arrowhead Family Dentistry S. M. Bhatt DDS Inc. about what you can expect for results. He can give you an honest appraisal and recommend the appropriate procedures for you. While he may not be able to eliminate your overbite entirely, he can improve your comfort. Chances are good that he can reduce the appearance of the overbite, too.