How to fix an overbite

Is it possible to fix your overbite without headgear? Yes! Traditional headgear has long been the “gold standard” for fixing an overbite. However, at Dougherty Orthodontics in St. Louis, we prefer to use the modern, more aesthetic alternative: forsus springs. Keep reading to learn about what forsus springs are, how they work, and why we choose to use them over headgear.

How is an Overbite Caused?

The most common cause of an overbite is the shape and/or size of the jaw or the teeth. This could mean having too much room in the jaw area or too little room for accommodation of one’s teeth size. If not treated, the overbite will manifest itself into allowing the teeth to crowd each other and grow in crooked if there is too little room, or the teeth will be spaced too far apart if the jaw area is too large. In infants and children, habits like thumb-sucking, sustained and consistent pacifier use and overuse of a bottle, which causes pushing the tongue against the back of the teeth, can produce an overbite. In teens and adults, chronic nail-biting and chewing of writing utensils, such as pencils or other objects, can cause an overbite. So too can losing teeth without timely repair cause an overbite. According to the American Dental Association, nearly 70% of children exhibit the signs of having an overbite.

Other causes for an overbite are:

  • Genetics
  • Grinding teeth
  • (TMJ) Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

What Happens If I Don’t Treat It?

If left untreated, an overbite could cause significant health complications. These include irreparable damage to teeth from abnormal positioning and possible jaw pain including temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).

Other overbite complications include:

  • Tooth decay including cavities, gum disease, and worn tooth enamel
  • Jaw pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Discomfort or pain while eating
  • Trouble with fully opening or closing mouth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Difficulty speaking

An untreated overbite could also dramatically alter the facial structure and lead to psychological issues like low self-esteem. If the causes of the overbite have begun in early childhood and are continuous and severe enough, the aesthetic deterioration will take place as early as pre-pubescence and may lead to bullying issues by peers.

Treating an Overbite and Correcting It

Generally, a dentist will refer a patient with an overbite to an orthodontist for treatment. In children, they are easier to treat because a child’s jaw is still in the developmental stages. For children and teens, the most common issue is crowding of teeth in the mouth. For many adults with an overbite problem, the lack of preventative treatment early in life has led to the more severe symptoms associated with overbites. In either case, the orthodontist or dentist will examine the area and write up a treatment plan that can last for up to two years and possibly longer. Initial x-rays will be taken to determine the type of overbite and the relationship between the teeth and the jaw in determining the best treatment.

Here are some treatments your orthodontist or dentist my recommend to correct an overbite issue:

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Children and Teens

  • Removal of baby teeth (making room for permanent teeth to grow in straight)
  • Growth modification device (used best during growth spurts) – helps to better position the jaw
  • Braces – slowly moves the teeth to correct the overbite as well as the jaw
  • Retainers – device used post-braces that help to keep the teeth in place


  • Braces – move only the teeth to correct an overbite
  • Teeth removal – dentists and orthodontists try to avoid this procedure but will do this in very severe overbite cases to allow the teeth more freedom to move.
  • Surgery – jaw problems for skeletal-type overbites can only be corrected with surgery for adults.

If your overbite is causing issues, it’s important to make an appointment with your orthodontist or oral surgeon for treatment. In all cases, whether child or adult the best way to prevent dental issues from occurring is to make sure you visit a dentist early and often. They recommend a checkup for children by at least the age of 7 for the detection of an overbite. Adults need to get regular checkups every six to twelve months to ensure early intervention to avoid the potentially severe physical repercussions of leaving an overbite untreated. Absolute Dental has dentist offices in Reno and Las Vegas, NV. Schedule an appointment today to discuss potential treatment options that may be suitable for you or your loved one.

Causes of Buck Teeth

Protruding teeth are caused by numerous factors, some of which are developmental while others are due to personal habits. Buck teeth can be minor with the front teeth only showing slight prominence over they can be so prominent that the protruding teeth are the first thing you notice about a person.

Buck teeth can easily be identified at a very early age, and can be due to a variety of factors including:

  • Genes / Jaw Imbalance: a person can inherit the problem if born with naturally uneven jaws. This imbalance between the upper and lower jaw can position teeth incorrectly.
  • Large Tooth Size: If the teeth are of larger size than normal, they take up more space and may appear protruded. 
  • Habits: teeth can jut out after constant pacifier/thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. These habits hinder the proper growth of the front teeth and causes the teeth to flare outward. If the habit is stopped early enough, the teeth may spontaneously realign and no treatment will be needed.
  • Crowded teeth: crookedness, facial injury and/or tooth abnormalities can play a role.

The severity of the condition can vary from mild to extreme, and may gradually become worse over time if left untreated.

Does Thumb Sucking Cause Buck Teeth?

About 80% of infants and children suck their thumbs. It’s a perfectly natural reflex and it helps them feel secure. The American Dental Association warns that prolonged thumb sucking can cause misalignment of teeth so we recommend that after the age of 4 parents should discourage thumb sucking. It is at this age that the gums, jaws and permanent teeth begin their most significant growth and continued thumb sucking can contribute to the misalignment of teeth and cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

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Benefits of Treatment

Even the mildest cases of overbite can reap significant benefits from professional treatment. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement is cosmetic in nature. Once treatment is complete, any bulging around the mouth disappears and patients may experience less strain in their facial muscles.

Being able to open and close the mouth more easily can also vastly improve speech, especially for those who adopted a slur or lisp due to an overbite. And last but not least, better alignment of the teeth can have a profound effect on oral health, making it easier to clean the teeth and minimize the risk of jaw-related disorders such as TMJ.

Why are Buck Teeth a Problem?

Most people simply want to fix their buck teeth due to cosmetic reasons. And while that is a great reason to want to get this fixed, there are some other health implicating reasons to correct an overbite.

  • Speech impedimentsWhen the upper front teeth and lips are impacted by protruding teeth it can affect your speech. Typically a person with a large overbite or open bite will have difficulty saying words with the letters S, F, SH, V, TH, P, M and B.
  • Airway concernsEven though the buck teeth themselves do not cause a problem with your airway, there is a strong correlation between protruding teeth and airway problems. Very crowded teeth typically result in a smaller jaw size which often also means a smaller airway. A lower jaw that is retruded and small also translates to a deficient airway. Both of these lead to problems like snoring, sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea.
  • Chewing deficienciesChewing efficiency decreases any time you have teeth that do not come together in a proper bite. As a result your teeth are not able to break down food the way they are meant to. Inadequate chewing impacts the your digestion process. And in severe cases of buck teeth where the upper teeth do not even come in contact with the lower teeth, you are unable to bite through foods like pizza and sandwiches.

The Condition and Cause of Overbites and Underbites

An overbite occurs when the upper teeth cover the lower teeth — also known as an “overjet.” It generally occurs as a result of genetics, bad oral habits, or overdevelopment of the bone that supports the teeth. Overbites can lead to gum irritation and issues caused by wearing on the lower teeth unnaturally. It can also cause painful jaw and joint problems.

Conversely, underbites occur when the lower teeth extend out beyond the upper teeth, often making the lower jaw more prominent. This alignment occurs by the overgrowth of the lower jaw, undergrowth of the upper jaw, or both in some cases. Underbites prevent normal functions of the mouth from happening, including front teeth and molars, which can lead to painful tooth wear, joint issues, and limited function.

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How We Fix an Overbite or Underbite With Invisalign

Advantages of Fixing an Overbite with Forsus Springs

Forsus springs are a simple, comfortable, effective, and hygienic way to reduce or eliminate your overjet. There are several advantages to fixing an overjet with forsus springs versus other methods, such as traditional headgear. Benefits include:

  • More aesthetic than headgear
  • No external apparatus
  • Not very visible to others
  • Can be placed by your orthodontist in just one appointment
  • No daily adjustments required
  • Easy to brush clean
  • Does not cause discoloration
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Spring does not bow into the cheek
  • Allows full range of mouth movement
  • Works with your existing braces and wires
  • Works continuously and efficiently
  • Automatically provides light, ongoing pressure
  • Helps prevent the need for surgery
  • Provides reliable long-term results

For more info on different types of orthodontic appliances and what they’re used for, check out our Glossary of Orthodontic Appliances.

Have questions about fixing an overjet with forsus springs? Ready to begin your orthodontic treatment? Contact us. Call our office at 636.825.1000 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation with Dr. Dougherty.

Can an overbite be corrected?

The process of correcting an overbite can take a long time—several years in some cases—depending on the severity of the overbite and the age of the patient. The options and recommendations for children are often different from those presented to adults.

  • Retainers, elastics, and jaw expanders

These options are not typically presented to adults because of the impact they can have on an individual’s lifestyle and because children’s bones and teeth are easier to align and reposition than those of adults.

Orthodontic elastic bands and retainers physically encourage bite correction and proper alignment of the teeth over time.

Braces are a common orthodontic method for treating overbites that work by repositioning the teeth and correcting alignment. Braces are a treatment option for both adults and children.

Because of their aesthetic appeal, see-through plastic Invisalign aligners are a popular treatment option for bite correction and fixing alignment, especially among adults looking for a more subtle alternative to braces.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend tooth removal to allow your remaining teeth to align correctly. For overbite correction, it’s typical to remove one or more teeth from the upper jaw. The gaps created allow for the front teeth to be moved back into a position that correctly aligns with the lower jaw.

Orthognathic surgery may be recommended in patients with more severe overbites. The procedure is generally performed between the ages of 13 and 18, and involves repositioning the jaw so that it aligns correctly.

Orthognathic surgery is typically performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who works closely with an orthodontist.

Through computer imagery, the orthodontist conducts preoperative planning to assess the predicted results of the procedure. In the months before surgery, the teeth are straightened by one of the traditional orthodontic methods described above.

During surgery, the lower jaw is sometimes moved forward, but in other cases, both the upper and lower jaw are adjusted to achieve a position that works both physically and aesthetically.

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