Misaligned or crowded teeth, commonly known as overlapping teeth can be uncomfortable and can lead to oral health issues. Not to mention, it can also be severe for your self-esteem if you smile with your teeth. No one likes to be reminded of their insecurities, right?
Even though a little bit of overlapping is completely normal, severely overlapping teeth is a type of malocclusion (misalignment) and can lead to serious dental and oral hygiene issues. Overlapping teeth require orthodontic care and worry not, there are many treatment options for overlapping teeth.
Besides the aesthetic issues, overlapping teeth can make biting and chewing painful. In this article, we have covered everything you need to know about overlapping teeth, from what causes it to overlapping teeth treatment options.
What are the possible causes of overlapping teeth?
Orthodontists have generally classified the possible causes behind overlapping teeth into two categories:
- Primary overlapping caused due to genetics
- Secondary overlapping caused by habits such as thumb-sucking, using a pacifier beyond the age of 3, prolonged use of bottle as a child, etc.
Let us look at the possible causes of overlapping teeth in detail.
- Genetic traits: According to the University of Florida Health, one of the most common causes of misaligned or overlapping teeth is a genetic heritage. A condition of overlapping teeth can be passed on to the children from their parents or grandparents.
- Childhood habits: According to the American Dental Association (AAD), childhood habits such as using a pacifier too much or thumb-sucking can lead to the development of overlapping teeth. Most infants use thumb-sucking to soothe themselves and there is nothing wrong with that when the child is young. However, if the child’s habit continues even after the permanent teeth start to set in, it can cause issues with the mouth or jaw, resulting in overlapping teeth.
Thus, to avoid overlapping teeth, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends weaning a child off their pacifier by the age of 3.
Other possible causes of overlapping teeth include:
- Palate issues or cleft lip
- Insufficient space within the jaw bone, also known as dental crowding
- Injuries that might have lead to misalignment of the jaw.
- Abnormally shaped teeth
- Tumors in the mouth or the jaw
- Extra teeth
- Crowns or fillings that don’t fit properly
- Teeth that may have been blocked from breaking through the gums
Are there any related dental health issues?
The answer is yes. Overlapping teeth may cause related dental health issues in the long run that require serious orthodontic care. If left untreated, overlapping teeth may cause the following dental health issues:
- Misaligned teeth can lead to speech difficulties
- It may also lead to severe jaw pain, resulting in terrible headaches.
- Overlapping teeth can wear out more easily as compared to straight teeth
- Overlapping teeth leads to tooth grinding and clenching which can cause a lot of dental health problems
- One may injure themselves by accidentally biting their tongue and cheeks
- It increases the risk of decay such as cavities, gum diseases, etc.
- In rare cases, the shape of the face and the jaw region can change due to overlapping teeth.
- One may tend to breathe with their mouth instead of their nose due to overlapping teeth.
When should you fix overlapping teeth?
Even though there are numerous available treatment options for overlapping teeth, the decision to fix overlapping teeth depends on the following factors:
- The severity of the overlapping teeth condition
- The need to fix other related dental health issues associated with overlapping teeth
According to a study conducted in 2016, information gathered from 100 respondents from the age of 17 to 21 found that, in general, the orthodontic health-related quality of life improved after dentistry treatment of moderate to severe malocclusion.
However, if the overlapping is minimal, your orthodontist may not recommend overlapping teeth treatment. Instead, they can provide advice on how to take care of overlapping teeth by effectively flossing and brushing the affected teeth to avoid oral-health problems like decay, gum infections, and cavities. Often times, your age is also considered before suggesting treatment options for overlapping teeth. Overlapping teeth treatment is more affordable and easier to perform on younger patients.
Treatment options for overlapping teeth
Anyway, if you do decide to proceed with overlapping teeth treatment, these are your available treatment options:
Braces are one of the most effective overlapping teeth treatments. They work by putting constant pressure on your teeth for an extended period. say one to three years. This pressure gradually reshapes your jaw and fixes overlapping teeth. There are many kinds of braces available as per your cost and aesthetic needs.
Invisalign or clear aligners are one of the most chosen types of orthodontic care. These are clear, flexible, custom-fit trays that fit over your teeth snugly and are less noticeable than traditional braces. However, they aren’t recommended for fixing serious overlapping teeth issues.
Dental veneers work by attaching to the front of the tooth to improve its appearance. They typically work or mild causes of misalignment and may not work as well as braces or Invisalign. They don’t change the position of your jaw or teeth, only improve appearance.
- Tooth extraction, surgery, or sculpting:
If your overlapping teeth are severe, your orthodontist may recommend tooth extraction, surgery, or sculpting the correct position and alignment of the jaw and teeth. There are a few procedures for reshaping the jaw. However, such extreme surgical procedures are only recommended in cases where braces, dental veneers, or Invisalign fail to work.
The bottom line is that overlapping teeth is a more common issue than you think. But, if the condition is affecting your dental health, emotional health, and self-confidence issues, you should take an appointment with an orthodontist. A medical professional will be able to guide you on what to do and what not to do.