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Best Age to Treat Overbite Varies

The dental experts’ recommendations range from age 8 through early adolescence.3

Your second-grader comes home from school sobbing, saying kids have been teasing him about his teeth. You call your dentist, who examines your son and sends him to an orthodontist. The orthodontist tells you your son has a deep overbite.

What does that mean? A deep overbite is a condition in which either the top teeth severely overlap the lower teeth4 or protrude too much (also called an overjet).5 Overbite can contribute to problems such as tooth decay; periodontal (gum) disease; strain on the teeth, jaws, and muscles; and temporomandibular joint disorder.4

Treatment includes braces to align the front teeth correctly. One or more teeth may have to be removed. Rough or irregular teeth may need to be reshaped, bonded, or capped. Rarely, your child may need surgery.4

Once your child has been diagnosed with a deep overbite, you might expect your child’s treatment to start at once. That may not be the case.1 Determining when orthodontic treatment should begin depends on many factors. Dentists consider not only the nature of the dental problem but also the ways in which a less attractive smile may be affecting the child’s social confidence.2

A large study found that early overbite treatment was no more effective than treatment starting in early adolescence.1 However, this may vary on a case-by-case basis. Another study found benefits to treating overbite between ages 6 and 9.2

Discuss all options with your child’s dentist or orthodontist. Ask questions so that you can get the best treatment for your child.

1  “Orthodontic Treatment for Prominent Upper Front Teeth in Children.” J.E. Harrison et al. Cochrane Database of Systemic Review. July 18, 2007, issue 3.

2  “Early Orthodontic Treatment: Current Clinical Perspectives.” D. Musich and M.J. Busch. Alpha Omegan. 2007, vol. 100, no. 1, pp. 17–24.

3  “Braces and Orthodontics.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2598.aspx?currentTab=2 Accessed 2010.

4  “Malocclusion of Teeth.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, May 28, 2010. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001058.htm Accessed 2008.

5  “Why Do People Get Braces?” Academy of General Dentistry. www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=O&iid=322&aid=1304 Accessed 2010.

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