Buck teeth: Causes, risks, and treatment for an overbite
Definition of buck teeth
Buck teeth are also known as malocclusion or overbite. It is a misalignment of the teeth that can vary in severity. Many people live with buck teeth and not treat them. Late rock icon Freddie Mercury, for example, kept and embraced his severe overbite. Others may prefer to treat their overbite for cosmetic reasons.
Still, others may need treatment to avoid complications, such as damage to other teeth, gums, or tongue from accidental bites.
The cause, severity, and symptoms all play a role in whether and how you should treat buck teeth.
These are often hereditary. The shape of the jaw, like other physical characteristics, can be passed down from generation to generation. Childhood habits like thumb sucking and pacifier use are other possible causes of overbite.
Thumb sucking buck teeth
Your parents were telling the truth when they warned you that thumb-sucking could cause buck teeth.
Thumb sucking is known as non-nutritive sucking behavior (NNSB), which means that the sucking motion does not provide any nutrition as it would with breastfeeding.
When this continues beyond 3 or 4 years or while permanent teeth appear, the pressure created by suction and the finger can cause the permanent teeth to enter at an abnormal angle.
It can cause an overbite in the same way as sucking on a thumb.
According to research published in 2016 in the Journal of the American Dental Association, pacifier use was associated with a higher risk of developing malocclusions than thumb or finger sucking.
Push the tongue
Tongue thrust occurs when the tongue presses too far forward in the mouth. While this usually results in a malocclusion known as an “open bite,” it can sometimes also cause an overbite.
The condition is more common in children, but it can continue into adulthood.
It can be caused by several things, such as chronically inflamed adenoids or tonsils and poor swallowing habits. In adults, stress can also cause it. Some adults push their tongue out during sleep.
Some people are born with an uneven jaw or a small upper or lower jaw. An overbite or prominent front teeth are often hereditary, and your parents, siblings, or other relatives may also have a similar appearance.
Missing teeth, extra teeth, and impacted teeth
The spacing or crowding can change the alignment of the front teeth and lead to the appearance of overbite. Missing teeth allow the remaining teeth to change over time, which affects the position of the front teeth.
On the other hand, not having enough space to accommodate your teeth can also cause alignment problems. Overcrowding can happen when you have extra teeth or impacted teeth.
Tumors and cysts of the mouth or jaw.
Tumors and cysts in the mouth or jaw can change the alignment of the teeth and the shape of the mouth and jaw. This happens when persistent swelling or growth, either soft tissue or bone, in the upper part of the mouth or jaw causes the teeth to move forward.
Tumors and cysts in the oral cavity or jaw can also cause pain, lumps, and sores.
Overbite health risks
An overbite can cause health problems depending on how severe it is and if it prevents a normal overbite.
An overbite can cause problems including:
- speech impediments
- respiratory problems
- chewing deficiencies
- damage to other teeth and gums
- pain when chewing or biting
- alterations in the appearance of the face
Buck teeth treatment
Unless your overbite is severe and causing discomfort, treatment is not medically necessary. If you are not satisfied with the appearance of your teeth, you will need to see a dentist or orthodontist for treatment.
There is no standard way to treat overbite because teeth come in different sizes and the types of bite and jaw ratios vary from person to person. A dentist or orthodontist determines the best treatment plan based on your needs.
Traditional wire braces and retainers are the most common treatment for an overbite.
Many people get braces in childhood or during adolescence, but adults can benefit from them too. The metal braces and cables attached to the teeth are manipulated over time to gradually move the teeth for a straighter smile.
Tooth extraction is sometimes recommended if more space is needed to straighten the teeth.
Expansion of the palate
Palatal expansion is generally used to treat children or adolescents whose upper jaw is too small to accommodate adult teeth.
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A special appliance consisting of two pieces called the palatal expander attaches to the upper molars. An expansion screw gradually separates the two pieces to widen the palate.
Invisalign can be used to treat minor malocclusions in adolescents and adults. A series of clear plastic aligners are made from a mold of your teeth and are worn on your teeth to gradually change their position.
Invisalign costs more than traditional braces but requires fewer visits to the dentist.
Orthognathic surgery is used to treat serious problems. It is also used for people who have stopped growing to correct the relationship between the upper and lower jaws.
Avoid home treatment
An overbite cannot be fixed at home. Only a dentist or orthodontist can safely treat teeth. Changing the alignment of the teeth requires precise pressure applied over time to help achieve the desired look and avoid serious injury to the roots and jaws.
For serious problems, surgery may be the best or the only option.
Living with buck teeth
If you choose to live with your overbite, here are some things you can do to help keep your teeth healthy and avoid problems that can be caused by misalignment:
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- Get regular dental exams.
- Wear a mouth guard during sleep or times of stress if you push your tongue out.
- Protect your teeth with a mouthguard when participating in high-impact sports.
Teeth, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Buck teeth only require treatment if they are severe and cause discomfort or if you are not satisfied with their appearance and would prefer to have them corrected.
A dentist or orthodontist can help you determine the best option based on your needs.