When something feels off with our bodies, we go to the doctor to find out what it is. However, too often people are ignoring their dental health and figuring that it’s not that big of a deal. Especially in the realm of minor underbites and overbites, people will put them on the backburner because they consider them to be only a minor cosmetic flaw and not worth dishing out money to fix. However, ignoring your overbite can lead to health concerns that stretch beyond just a cosmetic hiccup.

What is an overbite?

An overbite is classified as when your upper jaw extends over your lower jaw. People who ignore their overbites typically only have minor cases where the teeth only overlap a few millimeters, but there are severe cases which cause facial abnormalities. With any overbite case, individuals typically suffer from headaches and jaw pain.

What causes an overbite?

The most common cause for overbites has to do with genetics. Therefore, if someone in your family has had an overbite in the past, then it is very likely that future generations will also develop one, especially if bad habits are combined with it. Thumb sucking for example in children could play a role in whether or not an individual gets an overbite as the thrusting motion of the tongue might propel the upper jaw forward.

Early Treatment

Treatment at an early age is recommended as the jaw is more malleable and has not solidified yet. Waiting until adulthood could result in surgery, a much more invasive method when it comes to correcting overbites. Severe overbites are time sensitive as failing to take care of them also affects your oral health. Being unable to clean your gums and teeth properly could lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss. Difficulty chewing could lead to malnutrition as well because of the pain that the afflicted individual suffers.

By opting in for early care, you can save yourself from all of these ailments.


Splint therapy is ideal for those who need their jaw to be repositioned. This takes the pressure off of the nerves and then once it’s in the correct position, braces are applied to keep the jaw from shifting, though in some case, the orthodontist will recommend going straight to braces.

There are many different kinds of braces that we’ve talked about in detail in our other blogs. For details on the different kinds of braces available to you, click here.

However, there is another treatment method that we have also discussed in detail in the past that is available for those who suffer from an overbite which is headgear. With headgear, more than likely traditional metal braces would be used, but each dentist is different and they will be able to give you all the options available to you.

For more information about headgear, click here.

Blogs and articles are only able to help you some of the way. For full details on your overbite, schedule a consultation by visiting our website newburysmile.com and navigating to the Contact tab. Alternatively, you can also give us a call at +1 805-499-3691.

For those unfamiliar, an underbite is a dental condition where the lower teeth extend further than the front teeth, creating an appearance where the individual looks like a bulldog. Underbites can vary in severity, and although they look like more of a cosmetic issue than anything, severe underbites can affect an individual’s quality of life by affecting things like:

  • Their ability to chew and bite their food
  • Their ability to speak

Childhood habits

The risk for an underbite can begin when a child is under the age of five. Habits that the child performs on a daily basis may contribute to the development of an underbite, which includes:

  • Sucking on their thumb
  • Using a pacifier above the age of 3
  • Using a bottle long beyond the infancy stage


Individuals who suffer from having an underbite often have someone in their immediate family who has also had one in the past.


Although unlikely, severe trauma to the face where surgery is required or a jawbone has been broken can lead to an underbite. This is dude to the fact that while jawbones are repairable, they may not always line up as they once did before the break.

Medical Treatment

A visit to the dentist will tell you all you need to know about correcting your underbite.

For less severe cases, braces and headgear will be able to move the teeth into the correct position to cure the underbite. Removal of one or more teeth may also be an option if the reason for the underbite is because of overcrowding in the mouth. For the teeth that stick out, your dentist may simply be able to shave and smooth down the problem teeth to create a more even appearance.

Depending on your age, surgery may be recommended for very severe cases as headgear and braces become ineffective for those who already have solidified jawbones. That is why the earlier that an underbite is addressed and treated, the better the chances of having a non-invasive method being used.

Underbite surgery

For those who have surgery as an option, the results are very hopeful. Most, if not all, oral surgeons in your area will be able to correct issues such as underbites by either lengthening the upper jaw or shortening the lower jaw. To keep these changes in place, plates, screws, and wires may be used in some cases. However, surgery is invasive and certain risks are involved including scarring and infection.

To find out which method is best for you to treat your underbite, set up a consultation by visiting our website newburysmiles.com and navigating to the Contact section, or give us a call at +1 805-499-3691

Orthodontic headgear, while a bit of an eyesore, remains to be an extremely effective tool in the orthodontic world. It is used to correct severe bite problems such as underbites and overbites by altering the alignment of your jaw. Orthodontic headgear can also be used as a spacer to create room for adult teeth if there is not enough room left behind by the older teeth. Therefore, headgear is commonly used on adolescents and those headed into their late teens.


As mentioned above, orthodontic headgear is used to correct bite problems that might occur within the mouth. Common bites problems that orthodontic headgear is used to correct include:

  • Overjet: otherwise known as “buck teeth” where the front teeth jet out in an outward angle, giving the individual an appearance of a beaver.
  • Overbite: where the upper set of teeth overhang the bottom set.
  • Underbite: the opposite of an overbite where the lower set of teeth come over the front set.
  • Crossbite: the less severe out of all of the conditions where the teeth simply do not align when the individual bites down.

While individuals typically only have one issue that needs to be solved with the use of headgear, there are cases where two or more of these issues may be present at the same time.


Children 9-13 are the main candidates and patients that typically receive treatment from the headgear. At this stage in their growth, their teeth and jaw are still actively growing and are therefore easier to manipulate with orthodontic headgear. By doing this, the teeth and jaw problems are corrected in a  non-invasive manner, whereas putting off the treatment may have to involve surgery in the future as the bones are less malleable. For those between the ages of 13-18, further medical exams will have to be taken to determine whether or not the bones are still growing or if they have solidified. This is typically done through x-rays. If the x-rays show that there is no more growth happening, other measures will have to be considered as headgear will off little to no help.

How Headgear Works

True to its name, headgear consists of gear that is worn on the patients head. There are 2 different types depending on the issue that is being treated: a cervical and high-pull, or a reverse-pull facemask.

Cervical and High-Pull Headgear

This one is typically used for those suffering from overjet and overbite. To do this, this type of headgear holds the maxilla in place while allowing the lower jaw to recover.

Cervical and high-pull headgear is made of three parts:

  • Head cap: Two straps: one placed on the back of the neck, and the other on the top and back of the head.
  • Facebow or J-hooks: A facebow are two bows, one of which is attached to the headgear, and the other which is attached to the back molars. J-hooks are wires, one end attached to the headgear, and the other which is attached to the braces.
  • Attachment appliances: Springs, bands, or coils that are used to create the tension needed for the movement of the jaw.

Reverse-Pull Facemask

A reverse-pull facemask is used by pulling the lower jaw forward so it catches up with the upper jaw.

The reverse-pull facemask is made of three parts:

  • Face mask: The face mask is a forehead pad and chin cup that are attached to a metal frame. Velcro straps are typically used to hold it in place.
  • Mouth yoke: Horizontal yoke where the attachments are placed.
  • Attachment appliances: Elastics are connected to the mouth yoke and braces to draw the upper jaw forwards. 

What to Expect

Whatever orthodontic headgear your orthodontist ends up recommending, both of them are a huge time commitment. Orthodontic headgear, in order to be effective, needs to be worn 12 to 14 hours a day. Because of this, orthodontists recommend putting it on just after dinner and wearing it through the night, then taking it off in the morning so it doesn’t disrupt your daytime activities.

Because orthodontic headgear is typically used on children, a schedule may be put in place so that the child can slowly get used to the device. Such a schedule may look like: 1 hour on the first day, 2 hours on the second, and so on and so forth.

As things begin to progress, your orthodontist will increase the tension in the orthodontic headgear. At first, this may cause some discomfort, so therefore taking a pain reliever to reduce the soreness is recommended. However, severe pain should be reported immediately.

As mentioned above, using orthodontic headgear consistently is key to having the treatment be a success. Depending on the age used at and the severity of the misalignment, treatment could be over in as little as 6 months. Speak with your dentist for any specific questions about headgear and whether or not it is right for your child. 

To set up a consultation, visit our website at newburysmiles.com and navigate to the Contact page, or give us a call at +1 805-499-3691.