Overbites are incredibly common, and while having one won’t require any mad dashes to the doctor’s office, it can cause some discomfort and hinder your confidence. That’s why many adults seek corrective treatment, and braces are one of the most popular options. They’re reliable, sturdy, and powerful enough to shift your teeth and jaw into perfect alignment.
In this guide, we’ll get into the details of treating overbite with braces, the different braces options you have, and some alternatives if braces aren’t the right fit for you.
Table of Contents
What Is Overbite?
Overbite, also known as deep bite, is a type of dental misalignment where the lower teeth significantly overlap the upper ones. It’s the most commonly misunderstood bite issue, because most people have some degree of overbite, and in many cases, it doesn’t cause any issues. To be technically considered an overbite, the front teeth must cover more than 50% of the bottom ones when biting down.
An overbite doesn’t always come with symptoms, but it can commonly cause:
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- Discomfort while eating
- Speech impediments
Since they cause the teeth to make contact in atypical locations, overbites can also cause uneven wear on your teeth and gums. Left untreated, this wear can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and even tooth loss. Some cases of untreated overbite can also cause obstructive sleep apnea.
Overbite or Overjet?
Many people confuse these two conditions, and for good reason. They look fairly similar, and they both stem from the top and bottom arches not lining up. However, overbites are vertical misalignments, while overjets are horizontal. In other words, with an overbite, your top teeth point straight down, but with an overjet, they protrude diagonally.
Either way, however, braces are a good option, since they can treat overjet as well.
What Causes Overbite?
Genetics often play a role in any dental or jaw misalignment, including overbite. If your lower jaw is too small, your upper jaw is too large, or your teeth are crooked, it could cause an overbite. However, your habits can be equally responsible. Thumb-sucking or pacifier use past age three are other common causes, as are tongue thrusting, excessive nail-biting, or frequently chewing on objects like pens.
Can Braces Fix Overbite?
The short answer: yes. Thanks to their sturdiness, durability, and ability to incorporate attachments like elastics, braces are an extremely effective treatment option. In some cases, an orthodontist might supplement treatment with tooth extraction, as overcrowded teeth can interfere with overbite correction.
For these reasons, braces can work wonders for correcting overbite — especially if the case is mild or moderate. However, if your overbite is severe, braces’ effectiveness will depend largely on the type of results you want. If you are seeking a radical transformation of your facial appearance, braces may not be able to deliver. But if you’re set on avoiding jaw surgery, braces can still make a massive difference in your bite and your facial profile.
Types of Braces
Twenty years ago, if you wanted to alter your smile, traditional metal braces were pretty much the only option. However, the orthodontic industry has come a long way in the past couple of decades. Now, you have a whole range of options to choose from. Here are the four main types of braces available today.
Traditional Metal Braces
The end result of a long history of innovation in orthodontia, metal braces in their present form came onto the scene around the mid-1970s. In the decades since, traditional braces have remained orthodontists’ go-to treatment for crafting beautiful smiles.
Though many adults today opt for more discreet straightening appliances — like clear aligners — standard metal braces still have a lot going for them. Treating patients with standard braces doesn’t require an orthodontist to obtain any extra training or purchase special equipment, and those savings mean they can often offer lower prices. Plus, it’s often easier to find an orthodontist who can confidently administer your treatment, as orthodontists typically have the most experience working with metal braces.
Standard braces are also extremely versatile, and better suited for treating complex bite issues than some newer dental technologies. The average cost for braces ranges from $3,000 to $7,000, and treatment typically lasts 12–30 months. Since adult bite correction is more complicated than standard teeth straightening, your treatment might fall on the higher end of this range, both in terms of cost and duration — but it depends on the severity of your overbite.
3M — the company behind Scotch tape and Post-Its — introduced the earliest clear braces in 1987. While early models were less effective at adjusting teeth, the technology has come a long way in the past 30+ years. Today, clear braces can match the power of their metal counterparts.
Clear braces work just like metal ones, but offer a sleeker aesthetic that many adults prefer, since the translucent ceramic brackets blend in with the teeth. Although clear braces typically incorporate a metal arch wire, and the brackets are often slightly larger, they’re still less noticeable than metal braces. Some people also find that the ceramic brackets are less sharp and abrasive on the cheeks and gums.
On the downside, not all orthodontists offer clear braces, so it could be difficult to find a provider. Clear braces are also typically around 10%–20% more expensive than metal ones. That said, they have approximately the same treatment duration (12–30 months), and are just as effective in correcting mild-to-moderate cases of overbite.
Unlike clear braces, lingual braces are hidden from the rest of the world, since they’re situated behind your teeth instead of in front. You may be thinking, “that’s brilliant, how is this the first I’m hearing of it?” Well, there are a few reasons lingual braces aren’t more popular.
First of all, most orthodontists don’t offer them, since they’re harder to affix and adjust, and they require specialized training and equipment. From the patient perspective, lingual braces can create discomfort around the tongue, which can give you a minor lisp. Maintaining good oral hygiene takes more effort as well, because it’s harder to brush and floss around the brackets.
All that said, lingual braces are generally just as effective as standard braces for correcting overbite. Given the extra work involved, this option is usually pretty expensive, often costing between $8,000 and $10,000. If your top priority is keeping your treatment completely invisible and you have the financial means to afford it, lingual braces may be the right choice for you.
Six Month Smiles
Six Month Smiles is a unique brand of clear braces that doesn’t require an orthodontist, just a standard family dentist. As the brand name implies, the average treatment plan is around six months, but that’s because they’re only viable for milder cases. Their clear brackets and tooth-colored wires make them one of the least noticeable braces options available.
Six Month Smiles is only effective in shifting the front teeth, so if your back teeth need correcting, this method may not work for you. That said, they’ve still delivered perfect realignments for many folks with mild overbites. All in all, if Six Month Smiles sounds like a good fit for you, it’s worth visiting a dentist to see if you’re eligible for treatment.
Due to the shorter treatment time, Six Month Smiles is less expensive than other types of braces, averaging between $3,500 and $5,000. Just keep in mind that your treatment may take longer than the advertised six months (since bite issues are more difficult to correct) and be on the higher end of that price range.
What Is It Like to Wear Braces as an Adult?
Regardless of your age or the type of braces you choose, braces can certainly cause some discomfort, especially as your teeth adjust to initial placement and periodic tightening.
To minimize pain and reduce the risk of breaking a bracket, you’ll need to stay away from particularly hard or sticky foods — like chips, taffy or hard candy — as well as habits like nail-biting and gum-chewing. It’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene and use all dental appliances as instructed.
You may perceive some added stigma around getting braces as an adult, but the truth is, it’s a very common treatment at any age. Plus, between ceramic braces, lingual braces, and alternatives like clear aligners, there are more ways than ever to adjust your smile discreetly.
In the end, if overbite correction treatment is something you’re pursuing for the sake of your own comfort and happiness, it should be easy to remember that the long-term payoff will be well worth the temporary discomfort!
Other Overbite Treatments
While braces are a fantastic option for treating most cases of adult overbite, some people don’t love the idea of wearing them, or are put off by the price. If that sounds like you, there are a couple of other unobtrusive treatment options available.
In-Office Clear Aligners
When Invisalign was founded in 1997, it started the clear aligner revolution. This treatment uses a series of customized plastic trays to make incremental dental shifts, correcting crowding, spacing, and bite misalignments like overbite. To address more severe issues, doctors might pair the trays with attachments like elastics or other procedures. Unlike braces, Invisalign and their competitors are available to standard dentists, not just orthodontists — so you can potentially get your teeth straightened by the same person who cleans them.
The most notable differences between clear aligners and braces is that clear aligners are 1) removable, and 2) much more discreet. Clear aligner trays can shift your teeth and realign your bite about just as quickly as braces, and for approximately the same price ($3,500–$8,000). However, Invisalign isn’t the only option. ClearCorrect, 3M Clarity Aligners, and SureSmile are among several equally effective alternatives.
If you’re interested, learn more about some of the top brands in our guide to the six best clear aligners.
At-Home Clear Aligners
In recent years, companies like SmileDirectClub and Byte have taken the Invisalign model and made it cheaper and more convenient. These companies cut out office visits completely, instead using remote dental teams to analyze your teeth and create your aligners, which they deliver straight to your door. However, without any in-person supervision, these services can only treat mild-to-moderate conditions, and some cases of overbite are too complex for them.
Home aligners are significantly less expensive than braces or Invisalign, with an average price of $1,800–$2,000. The companies that sell home aligners typically provide an opportunity to review your expected results before purchasing a full course of treatment, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before moving forward. But if everything lines up, home teeth alignment might be a perfect solution for your mild overbite.
If you think at-home aligners might work for your overbite, check out our recommendations for the top five brands.
Beyond Standard Treatment Options
Corrective jaw surgery is reserved for severe cases of overbite in which the adult patient is seeking a radical transformation of the face and jaw. With a skeletal overbite, the lower jaw often appears recessed (or set back) from the upper jaw, resulting in an uneven facial profile that standard orthodontic appliances cannot always correct. Orthognathic surgery can shift one or both of the jaws into the desired position for a more significant bite adjustment.
This is a pretty significant form of surgery. Besides being quite expensive, it also comes with a long recovery time. Fortunately, most cases of overbite don’t require surgical intervention, and the options above can handle them. If you have a very severe overbite, an orthodontist can help you determine if you need surgery.
Regardless of your overbite’s severity or cause, your dentist may recommend braces, and for good reason: this long-standing dental technology can produce powerful and sustainable dental transformations. If you’re considering corrective treatment, choose a physician who’s dedicated to finding a treatment option that reflects your top priorities — whether they’re aesthetic, budgetary, time-sensitive, or otherwise.
Remember, overbite is rarely a medical concern, so consider your personal desires and holistic well-being when choosing a corrective treatment. We hope this guide provided you with some helpful insight for your future dental decisions!
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes an overbite?
Overbites have several possible causes. Genetics can play a role, like if you were born with an oversized upper jaw, an undersized lower jaw, or teeth that come in crooked. However, habits like excessive nail-biting, tongue thrusting, or chewing on objects like pens can cause it as well. Children who suck their thumbs or use pacifiers past age three are also at risk.
What problems can overbites cause?
Mild overbites rarely cause any problems, and don’t require medical attention. But more significant ones can cause jaw pain, discomfort while eating, earaches, headaches, and speech irregularities. An overbite can also cause uneven wear on your teeth and gums, eventually leading to tissue damage, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and possibly tooth loss.
When should I be concerned about an overbite?
A minor overbite probably won’t have any effect on your daily activities, but if yours starts causing jaw pain or stiffness, discomfort when eating or speaking, or other symptoms, visit your dentist or orthodontist.
Can you fix an overbite without surgery?
Yes, but it depends on the case. Orthodontic treatments like braces and clear aligners can correct certain jaw misalignments, including overbites, but they might not be able to handle severe cases. If orthodontic treatment isn’t an option, your dentist might recommend surgery.
What happens if you leave an overbite untreated?
If you don’t correct a severe overbite, it can cause uneven wear on your teeth and gums. Over time, that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and even obstructive sleep apnea.
Do overbites change your face?
Mild ones shouldn’t, but more significant overbites can make your upper lip protrude or your face look asymmetric.
Do overbites get worse with age?
They can. Sometimes, the space between your upper and lower jaws can increase with age, worsening your overbite. It’s best to get it treated soon after your diagnosis, or as soon as you notice it causing problems.