Unfortunately, a lot of toddlers have an overbite, leading us parents to wonder when should we take that ride down to the dentist’s office to get fixed? And as bad as it may sound, overbites will have to be corrected, and the sooner they are the better, failure to which, developmental problems of the teeth and possible teeth damage are inevitable.
According to the American Dental Association, almost 70% of children display signs of having an overbite. It usually is considered an overbite if the protrusion is more than 3 to 4 mm or the upper teeth completely cover the lower teeth. Ideally, the upper teeth should only be over the lower teeth by only about 1 or 2 mm. Children that have teeth overlapping outwards 3 millimeters or more are subject to oral injuries 3 times more than children without protruding teeth. Another survey found that children with overlapping upper front teeth have a 1 in 3 chance of experiencing an injury to these teeth.
Although some parents prefer to avoid orthodontic treatment and simply live with their child’s overbite, studies show that this can prove to be injurious in the long run because the more teeth protrude the more they are prone to injury.
Stay tuned as I share with you my experience on what I learned about the causes, preventive measures, and treatments during my stint at a baby daycare Center with adorably cuddly babies, but, with different teeth prepositions. And as we all know, having straight teeth and a beautiful smile can be a total confidence booster.
What causes overbite in toddlers?
While some cases of malocclusion of the teeth (overbite) may be hard to see without the child smiling, others are blatantly obvious as the front teeth hang over the bottom lip. There are some conditions and/or habits that may change the shape and structure of the jaw. These includes
- Prolonged use of bottle feeding in early childhood.
- Continual use of a pacifier after the age of 3.
- Thumb sucking in early childhood.
- Injuries that result in misalignment of the jaw.
- Cases of the cleft lip and palate.
- Abnormally shaped or impacted teeth.
- Poor dental care resulting in improperly fitting dental feelings.
- Airway obstruction caused by potential allergies.
- Tongue thrusting
- Teeth grinding
- TMJ disorder
Other times, overbites are often hereditary. Like any other physical features, the jaw shape can be passed down through generations. Some children will inherit this from their parents and siblings or other relatives may also have a similar impression.
How do you prevent an overbite in toddlers?
While not all overbites are preventable, as a parent to a toddler, know that you can take these simple steps now to help decrease the chance of your child developing an overbite that may need braces to correct in the future.
Limit pacifier use
The moment you have a baby, a pacifier is one of the useful items to keep around because it naturally calms your baby, and doctors too, recommend that babies sleep with pacifiers in their mouths until the of 6 months to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
Thankfully, you don’t have to cease offering your baby a pacifier all together to encourage good oral development. Aim to start cutting back your child’s pacifier use at the age of 3 to ensure the transition is completed in time. Begin to provide other comfort objects such as stuffed animals and deliberately reduce the pacifier time until the habit is broken.
Choose the correct sippy cup
It is an exciting time for us parents when babies transition from drinking from a bottle to a sippy cup. And while you may be tempted to purchase a traditional sippy cup with a spill-proof valve to prevent spillage, the ADA warns that they come with dental hazards.
Sucking on the valve for extended periods can lead to inappropriate oral development including overbites. If your child already has a sippy cup, limit its use to mealtimes only and If you haven’t introduced it yet, skip it altogether and transition them directly to a plastic cup or you can choose a sippy cup with a lid that prevents the spills while allowing your child to sip from the cup.
Identify and treat tongue placing problems
When not speaking, eating, or drinking, the tongue should rest against the roof of the mouth with the tip positioned just behind the front teeth, and children need to learn how to properly rest it for proper development of their mouths.
While the majority of children adopt this tongue resting position naturally, others begin to rest their tongues improperly that affects their orofacial development resulting in a serious baby overbite.
How do you fix an overbite in toddlers?
There is no one standard way to treat overbites because teeth come in various sizes and jaw relationships and jaw sizes vary from person to person. Overbites in children are the easiest to treat because a child’s jaw is still in the developmental stages. For them, the most common issue is overcrowding of teeth in the mouth.
Your child’s orthodontist will determine the best treatment plan based on their needs. Here are some treatment methods your child’s orthodontist may recommend for correcting an overbite.
- Removal of baby teeth to establish room for permanent teeth to develop straight.
- Growth modification devices that help to better position the jaw (best used during a growth spurt).
- Braces – They slowly moves the teeth to correct the overbite as well as the jaw.
- Retainers – Devices used post braces that help to keep teeth in place.
- Palate expansion – This is usually used to treat children whose upper jaw is too small to accommodate adult teeth. A special gadget that consists of two pieces called a palatal expander clasps to the upper molar. An expansion screw moves the two pieces apart slowly to widen the palate.
- Surgery – In severe cases, orthodontic surgery may be recommended. It can also be used in adults and teens who have stopped growing to correct the relationship between the upper and the lower jaw.
Potential consequences of not treating a toddlers overbite
An untreated overbite will negatively impact your child’s mouth and subsequently your child’s life in many ways. Here are some of the most common complications an overbite will pose if it is left unattended
- Altered facial structure
- Crowded or crooked teeth
- Tooth decay and gum disease from abnormal wear on tooth enamel
- Problems eating and chewing
- Jaw pains and headache from excessive jaw tension
- Higher risk of damaged front teeth
- Poor self-esteem
- Speech impediments
- Negative impact on your child’s developing mouth and jaw
- Sleep apnea
Avoid home treatment
Only a dentist or orthodontist can safely treat an already established overbite because changing the alignment of your baby’s teeth requires precise pressure applied over time to help achieve the desired interest and avoid serious injuries to the root and jaw bone.
Will an overbite correct itself?
Unfortunately, an overbite will not fix itself over time and treatment will be needed. The good news is that there are a variety of treatment methods that can resolve your baby’s overbite and allow them to have confidence as they grow and similarly achieve optimal oral health.
Can breastfeeding cause overbite?
Breastfed babies are less likely to develop overbites. Also, orthodontic problems in facial growth like the retruded lower jaw and narrow palates are known risk factors for obstructed breathing. Crooked teeth shouldn’t be looked at as a dental problem but an indicator of poor facial and airway problems.
Can you correct an overbite without braces?
Yes, you can. The Invisalign, a transparent retainer-like is a perfect alternative to braces. It is a treatment option that counts on transparent, retainer-like aligners to switch teeth into place. However, by attaching flexible elastic bands to the top and bottom aligners, Invisalign can now correct more overbite issues than before without requiring braces.
Are braces or Invisalign better for overbites?
The most important thing about treating overbites is the treatment itself and the effectiveness it comes with. When it comes to higher efficacy, braces achieve a much higher ranking. But, recently, Invisalign introduced more precision cutting and elastic bands which greatly improved its effectiveness.
Many people choose to live with overbites and not treat them. Others may choose to treat them for cosmetic reasons. Yet, others may need treatment to prevent difficulties such as damage to the gums, other teeth, or the tongue from accidental biting. The severity, symptoms, and cause play a major role in when and if you should treat the overbite.
You may have only thought of an overbite as merely influencing how your child’s smile looks and you are right. Correcting an overbite may yield a more beautiful smile, but it can also create a much healthier mouth and eliminate future complications.
We at 1happykiddo are excited to help you and your family enjoy the healthiest mouth possible by providing you information to end a habit that is no longer healthy for your child’s mouth.