So My Child Has an Overbite… Now What?

Overbites are very common.  In fact, according to the American Dental Association, nearly 70% of children exhibit the signs of having an overbite.  The most common cause of an overbite is the structure and/or size of the jaw or the teeth. If not treated, an overbite can turn into a complicated problem that can cause issues like the overcrowding of teeth, widely spaced teeth, tooth decay, headaches and jaw pain, difficulty eating and speech problems.  

Most likely, your child’s overbite can be treated with simple orthodontic measures.  In some cases, however, severe overbites in children may need a more proactive treatment plan.  Here are 5 key pieces of information to help identify and treat your child’s overbite. 

  • Begin looking for signs of a developing overbite around age four or five. Also, make sure your kiddo is visiting the dentist every six months for cleanings and check-ups. 
    • Habits such as thumb-sucking, sustained and consistent use of a pacifier and overuse of bottles and sippy cups can produce an overbite.
    • In older children and teens, habits such as nail-biting and chewing on pen caps and pencils can also cause an overbite to develop. 
    • Helping your kiddo break these habits is critical to preventing an overbite from becoming worse over time. 
  • If your pediatric dentist detects an overbite, they will refer your child to an orthodontist for treatment. Usually, this referral will happen when your child is about 7-years-old. 
    • The orthodontist will examine your child, take initial x-rays and develop a treatment plan based on your child’s unique circumstance and the severity of the overbite. 
  • The most common issue with overbites in children is crowding of teeth in the mouth.  Removal of baby teeth is one treatment option. The removal of baby teeth makes more room for permanent teeth to grow in straight. 
  • Braces are another common corrective measure for overbites in children. Braces slowly move the teeth into the proper alignment, as well as help reposition the jaw. 
    • Retainers are often used after the braces are removed to keep the teeth in the proper alignment. 
  • In more severe cases of overbites in children, a growth modification device can be used to better position the jaw.  These devices are best used during growth spurts and can be used before the application of braces or in conjunction with braces. 

The good news is that overbites are much easier to treat in children than in adults, since children’s jaws are still growing and developing. Regardless of the treatment plan established by your kiddo’s orthodontist, correcting an overbite will not only bring a happy, healthy smile to their face, but will also prevent a lifetime of oral health issues.

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