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Is Your Overbite Causing You Jaw Pain?

By Kristen Gasnick
Having an untreated overbite can cause jaw pain and joint dysfunction. Find out more about the treatment options for correcting your overbite.

An overbite occurs when your upper teeth are positioned too far forward over your lower teeth. An untreated overbite can lead to jaw pain. Luckily, there are treatment options that can correct an overbite, restore proper teeth and jaw alignment, and reduce overbite jaw pain.

Overbite and Jaw Pain

Proper teeth alignment includes the positioning of both your teeth and your jaw. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, your upper teeth should fit slightly over your bottom teeth. If the upper teeth sit too far forward, you will have an overbite. 

Having an untreated overbite can be problematic and cause pain by changing your biting pattern (i.e. occlusion). “When an overbite is severely out of ideal range, which is generally in the range of 2-4 mm, the teeth must slide together in a deep path, putting undue pressure on the temporomandibular joint and muscles,” Charles Sutera, DMD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, an overbite can cause jaw pain while eating and may also lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction

TMJ dysfunction affects the hinge joint, which connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. Symptoms include jaw pain and tenderness; a clicking, popping, or locking jaw; and difficulty fully opening or closing your mouth.

Overbite Treatment Options

One of the most effective ways to treat an overbite is through traditional metal braces that slowly move your teeth into a proper alignment, according to the Cleveland Clinic. “Sometimes, with very small discrepancies, the overbite can be corrected with braces alone to reposition the teeth into a better bite,” Jaclyn Tomsic, MD, DMD, FACS, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Invisible aligners can also be used to correct a mild-to-moderate overbite. Like braces, invisible aligners guide the teeth into correct alignment over time. You'll receive a series of custom-made aligners that shift your teeth into the proper position. 

In cases where braces or aligners alone are not enough to fix an overbite, jaw surgery may be required to restore proper jaw alignment. “In moderate to severe cases, jaw repositioning surgery (i.e. orthognathic surgery) is the only way to achieve a normal occlusion/bite, natural biting and chewing forces, normal facial muscle function/position, and a harmonious facial profile,” Tomsic says. “The jaws are then permanently repositioned into normative standards, thus correcting the deformity and subsequently alleviating future jaw pain.” 

Removing some of your teeth may also be necessary to create more space to prevent your teeth from crowding. Crowding can cause—and worsen—an overbite. Your dentist or orthodontist will be able to advise you about the specifics of your case. 

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