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Overbite Surgery

Overbite Surgery

Overbite surgery is employed for correcting the problem of overbite, where the upper teeth protrude over the lower teeth. An overbite, if not corrected, can cause several oral problems in the long run, besides affecting the structure of the face. This HealthHearty article discusses the various issues related to this orthodontic condition, and the surgical method employed for its correction.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
An overbite is a very common orthodontic condition, where the upper teeth protrude or project significantly over the lower or bottom teeth. In other words, the upper teeth partially or completely overlap the lower teeth. This can be caused by the protrusion of the upper jaw (maxilla) or recession of the lower jaw (mandible).
Earlier, this problem was not taken so seriously. But today, more and more people are considering the options available for overbite correction. An overbite is usually measured in millimeters, and expressed as a percentage.
Mild to moderate overbites can be corrected with dental braces and rubber bands that can pull back the upper teeth. But an excessive overbite may require orthognathic surgery. But before going into the details of the overbite correction surgery, let's take a look at the types of overbites and what causes this orthodontic problem.
Types and Causes of Overbite
Basically, overbites can be of two types - dental overbite and skeletal overbite. As the name suggests, a dental overbite is purely tooth related, and is caused by the misalignment of the teeth. On the other hand, a skeletal overbite is associated with the jawbone, and is caused by the protrusion of the upper jaw.
Overbites are also classified as vertical and horizontal. A vertical overbite is the condition where the upper teeth significantly cover the bottom teeth, while in horizontal overbite, the upper teeth protrude beyond the bottom teeth.
As far as the causes of an overbite are concerned, it is usually a hereditary condition. It can also be caused by the uneven growth of the jaws. The overdevelopment of the upper jaw or underdevelopment of the lower jaw can cause this condition. Apart from these, excessive bottle-feeding, overuse of pacifiers, and certain childhood habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and nail biting may cause this condition.
Surgery for Overbite Correction: An Overview
According to dental professionals, a normal overbite is 3 to 5 mm or 20 to 30% of the height of the mandibular incisors or the lower front teeth. If the overbite is more than 5 mm, it is considered a severe overbite. Braces, retainers, and other non-surgical options are employed for correcting mild to moderate dental overbites. They help realign the teeth and the jawline over a period of time by applying gentle pressure.
But for an excessive overbite, corrective surgery can be required, especially if it is skeletal in nature. Braces can be of little help for correcting a severe overbite. Dentists usually recommend this surgery when a child stops growing (usually in late teens or early 20s).
A severe overbite can cause several complications, such as difficulty in chewing food, increased risk of gum disease, abnormal wear and tear of teeth, injury to the roof of the mouth, speech impediment, jaw pain, worn out teeth enamel, and an increased risk of breaking teeth and developing cavities. Moreover, this condition can affect the structure of the face, which can lower self-esteem of the affected individual. All these complications can be avoided by correcting the overbite.
The Procedure
As mentioned already, a minor overbite can be corrected with dental braces. Adults and children as young as 10 years of age can go for this option. But if it is caused by the abnormal position of the jaw, then orthognathic surgery can be required. An overbite is usually diagnosed during routine dental examination.
A dentist or orthodontist tries to determine the degree of the overbite before opting for any specific treatment. He or she can carry out X-rays to evaluate the position of your head, jawbones, and the teeth. Molds or impressions of the upper and the lower jaws are also taken to determine the degree of the overbite.
The overbite correction surgery or jaw surgery is a very invasive procedure, and therefore, it is usually opted when other options cannot correct this problem. The patient may need to be admitted to the hospital or the surgical center for a couple of days. The surgeon makes several incisions inside the mouth to get an access to the jawbones. The upper or the lower jawbone is then repositioned to correct an overbite.
Sometimes, bones may be added, or the existing bones of the jaw/jaws can be removed or reshaped according to the specific need. Usually, cuts are made in the jawbone, and then the cut pieces are repositioned. Finally, screws, wires, surgical plates, or rubber bands are used to keep the jaws in their new positions. The average recovery time for this surgical procedure is approximately 3 to 4 months.
Overbite Surgery Cost and Complications
The cost of the surgery can vary depending on the severity of the condition. On an average, the overbite correction surgery can cost you somewhere around $8,000 to $25,000 or more, depending on the degree of the overbite, and whether one or both the jaws need to be repositioned. Though this surgery can help you improve your smile and look, it may cause a few complications. Like any surgery, it carries the risk of infections, swelling, and bleeding.
Apart from these, a few individuals can experience facial stiffness for a while. Even the possibility of jaw joint problems, and a shift of the facial bones cannot be ruled out completely. The risks and complications associated with this corrective surgery can be minimized to a great extent by following the post-surgical instructions given by your dentist or surgeon. Proper aftercare can significantly reduce the risk of infections and other complications.
As far as the choice between braces and surgery is concerned, it depends on the degree of the overbite, which can be evaluated by an orthodontist. An overbite can be treated easily in children and teenagers, as their jaws and bones are still developing. It is much easier to manipulate their jaws with minimally invasive procedures. However, this does not mean that adults have to live with overbites. They can also correct this problem, though the entire process may take more time. If you are not sure about the success of this surgery, consider to talk to your dentist or an orthodontist.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.