An overbite is a completely normal experience, and often many people have wonderful smiles with small overbites. However, children with large overbites commonly referred to as “buck teeth” often require orthodontic treatment. Large, prominent overbites can present problems later on in life, including the risk for facial development problems, TMJ disorder, and abnormal enamel wear down. However, your child’s overbite can be treated with simple treatment. If you’re not sure if they have an overbite, we’ll provide you with a small guide on recognizing overbites, what causes them, and how orthodontists commonly treat this condition.
How To Recognize an Overbite
Development of an overbite usually occurs around ages 4 to 5. This period is often the most clear-cut sign of any oral problems because it is when your child’s primary teeth begin to appear. As your child’s teeth appear, it’s important to look for these habits and signs for potential problems:
- Protruding Teeth: This is the most common sign but can often be difficult to look at first hand. Overbites often have the upper anterior teeth overlapping the anterior bottom set, causing the teeth to appear bigger than they are. If they appear like this when they smile, then your child may have an overbite problem.
- Thumb-sucking: Often the most common cause for overbites, thumb sucking can cause the palette, or the upper area of the mouth, to deform, causing the teeth to misalign as they grow in.
- Biting Nails: In preteens, nail-biting and chewing on other objects can also cause the teeth to misalign over time.
- Crowded Teeth: If they protrude, then they may also look crowded. One way to see if they have an overbite is to observe the spacing in between the teeth, and if they look overcrowded, then it may be the cause of their overbite.
- Poor Jaw Development: Children’s jaw development is a crucial aspect of their oral health, and if their jawline sits back further than it should, then their jaw may be impacting their teeth. If you notice that they don’t have a prominent jawline, then it’s important to seek orthodontic treatment.
Causes and Treatments of Overbites in Children
As previously stated, thumb sucking and biting objects are the primary causes of overbites. Among those issues, even tongue placement and excessive use of pacifiers can have a negative effect on the teeth. But how do overbites affect their oral health and quality of life? According to the Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, malocclusion that is even mildly pronounced are said to have a worse quality of life than those with extreme malocclusion, often impairing their body image, sense of identity within social groups, and desire for approval from others. In a sense, their teeth can impact your child’s psychology and self-image, and correcting their oral health ahead of time can lead to more positive results.
So, what about treatments? Orthodontists have an excellent way of handling children during these stages, as they specialize in the development and alignment of the teeth, gums, and jawbone in relation to that child’s growth. Orthodontists can provide many various treatments to help your child over time, including:
- Clear Aligners
- Jaw Motion Appliances
- Tooth Extractions
- Palette Expanders
If you would like to see into these treatments, the best place to find the resources you need for your child is to visit your primary dentist or orthodontist for more information. While observing your child’s teeth can be a great preventative measure, the best way to determine if your child has a malocclusion is to see a dentist for x-rays and an exam.