An overbite is when the top front teeth overlap the bottom front teeth while the mouth is closed. Having a slight overbite without issues is common. But for some, an untreated overbite could lead to significant health complications. Here are three overbite-related problems that may surprise you.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a dangerous disorder in which your upper airway becomes either fully or partially blocked while you sleep. This blockage is typically caused by the throat muscles sporadically relaxing during sleep, according to Mayo Clinic.
In addition to interfering with sound sleep, OSA can reduce oxygen flow to vital organs and cause heart complications. Some common symptoms of OSA include:
- Restlessness during sleep
- Sudden awakenings with a sensation of gasping or choking
Although OSA can affect people of all ages, those who are overweight, have enlarged tonsils, or a small jaw with an overbite are especially at risk, according to Cleveland Clinic.
“In my experience, overbite can be associated with breathing problems or sleep apnea,” Todd Bertman, DMD, a New York-based general dentist and founder/owner of Advanced Dental Arts, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “I have treated many orthodontic cases where, after treating overbites, patients have commented on better sleep [and] less snoring.”
Problems with your jaw joint, your bite, and your facial muscles can cause temporomandibular disorders (TMD), according to Cleveland Clinic. The jaw joint is also known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Having an overbite is a common cause of TMD. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of TMD may include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Aching facial pain
- Pain in and around the ear
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Locking of the jaw joint that results in difficulty opening or closing the mouth
“TMJ dysfunction can also be relieved or improved during dental treatment,” Bertman says. “However, if there is a large jaw discrepancy (i.e., the lower jaw is much smaller than the upper jaw), it is more difficult to address these issues. The correct radiographs (panoramic and cephalometric) must be taken and analyzed by an orthodontist.”
A cephalometric radiograph is an X-ray of the side of your face. A panoramic radiograph is an X-ray of the front of your entire mouth.
Left untreated, overbites can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, according to Cleveland Clinic.
A 2020 study published in The Saudi Dental Journal found that having an overbite significantly impacts an individual’s periodontal (i.e., gum) health, which could affect the development of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
The study also asserts that treatment of these gum diseases could prove unsuccessful unless the overbite is corrected.
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