Can clear aligners fix an overbite?
This is a common question. It’s also one that typically requires some clarification and education. Let’s start by making sure that we understand what term “overbite” really means.
Understanding overbite and overjet
The term overbite is often misused and so has a negative connotation. Many people use it to describe a general condition where the upper teeth protrude too far beyond the lower teeth. In reality, malocclusion (misalignment) only exists when there is too much overbite, or not at all. A “perfect smile” has an overbite of about 2-4mm. The graphic below shows the difference between overbite and overjet.
The condition of the upper jaw appearing to protrude too far forward is more correctly described as a class II malocclusion. This condition may be accompanied by an excessive overbite, or an openbite, which is the opposite of an overbite.
Below are the digitized images of a patient who believed she had an “overbite” but in fact had the opposite (an overjet) combined with a class II malocclusion and an openbite:
Whatever. Can clear aligners fix it?
At the risk of sounding like a politician, every case is unique. The underlying causes of misalignment vary. Some are more severe. Some are less severe. Most importantly, every patient has a different definition of what “fix” means for them. Here are some general guidelines for the conditions best treated by clear aligners:
- More can typically be done with in-office aligner treatments than at-home alternatives. When seeing a patient in person, doctors can employ techniques such as IPR (teeth shaping) and using attachments to accomplish movements that may not be possible with at-home treatments.
- At-home aligners can significantly improve the alignment aesthetics, but may not address the underlying bite problems (malocclusion). In-office clear aligners may also not be able to treat bite problems.
- A well-designed at-home treatment plan should not ever make the bite worse.
- The definition of “fix” for many patients is to improve or resolve a certain aesthetic issue. For other patients, “fix” may connote more comprehensive corretion. The most important thing is that patient and doctor are on the same page with the treatment goals and expectations, and that the patient is informed as to alternate treatment options.
In the case of our teledentistry patient that mistakenly believed she had an overbite, this is what we were able to do for her with at-home clear aligners…
The openbite has been eliminated and the overjet is significantly improved.
We strongly recommend that anyone considering their options consult with an orthodontist about their case. You can email pictures of your teeth here for a convenient, free, orthodontic consultation.