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Here's What Happens If Your Overbite Goes Untreated

By Zawn Villines
An untreated overbite can affect your overall health, not just the appearance of your smile.

An overbite is one of the most common orthodontic issues. A 2019 study published in Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research suggests that nearly two-thirds of American adults have an untreated overbite.

“An overbite is when the upper teeth overlap and cover your lower teeth,” Hideki Ikeda, DDS, a board-certified orthodontist at Sweet Smiles Modern Orthodontics, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Some overlap is desirable for proper function and aesthetics, but a severe overbite can have harmful effects on your overall oral health.” 

Gum Damage 

An untreated overbite can have consequences for the health of your gums. 

“For an ideal overbite, the upper front teeth should cover 2-3 mm of your lower teeth, but the majority of the surface should still be visible,” Ikeda says. “However, if you bite and you can barely see your lower teeth because they are hidden behind your upper teeth, you may have a severe overbite. A severe overbite can affect your oral health by causing trauma to your gum tissues.”

Gum disease can be painful and harm the teeth. It is also a risk factor correlated with the development of other serious health conditions, including heart disease, according to a 2019 systematic review published in Preventing Chronic Disease. 

Tooth Decay 

The gum damage caused by overbites is a risk factor for cavities. Severe cavities, especially if left untreated, may cause a person to lose their teeth. 

“If left untreated, a severe overbite can cause irreparable tissue damage and possibly early loss of the upper incisors and concurrent excessive wearing of the lower incisors,” Brian Luong, DMD, MBA, MS, an orthodontist at The Hills Orthodontics, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

Poor Self-Esteem

An overbite can change your appearance, especially when it damages your gums and teeth. When your teeth aren’t properly aligned, you may feel more self-conscious about your smile and appearance. 

Aesthetically, a severe overbite can cause the person’s smile to look aged as well,” Ikeda says. “Since showing more teeth when smiling is associated with having a youthful appearance, a severe overbite that hides most of your teeth will adversely give you an older look.”

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

An overbite has also shown to be a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea,” Luong says. 

Obstructive sleep apnea causes repeated blockages to the upper airway at night, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This can deprive the brain of oxygen and lead to symptoms such as snoring, frequent waking, or gasping for air while sleeping. 

Fortunately, correcting your overbite can provide several health benefits and prevent a number of complications. 

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