Overbite can be best illustrated just as a baby undergoes the various stages of growth and development, at some point a structural anomaly may set in. one such common abnormal development is the overbite. This condition is observed when a child’s upper set of teeth, particularly the front, overlaps the lower set of teeth. In other words, the upper jaw protrudes forward over the lower jaw. It has been observed to manifest at several degrees ranging from the vertical to the horizontal type overbite. Again, studies have shown this condition to manifest at the early stages of a child’s growth.
Though not generally considered a clinical issue of concern, overbite conditions may predispose a child to other ill health conditions at the later stages of the child’s growth. This is why it is important that parents and guardians, at early observation of this condition, take appropriate action to ensure that it is corrected while it still easily can. Advancements in science and technology have come up several options to correct this condition ranging from use of medications to surgery. Of all this clinical measures, bracing or use of braces remains remarkable and have recorded high level success. It has being the mainstay and relatively cheap for most parents and mild for the child while achieving the expected result.
However, a better understanding of overbite braces is very important as it would guide the choice of braces appropriate for specific overbite conditions. Again, it would give the “why” in the choice of bracing as a corrective measure in overbite conditions.
What are overbite braces?
As the name implies, braces are simply devices that are attached to the teeth in order to align them in proper position. Most of the time, they consist of brackets which are bonded to the teeth as well as a metal wire that is inserted into the brackets to give a firm grip. Overbite braces are no different. They generally consist of metal wires that can be tightened and work together with the brackets fixed at intervals to move teeth into desired positions or alignment. Also associated with overbite braces are other components which help to move the teeth and the jaw bone particularly in high degrees of overbite. Such components here include expansion, headgear devices as well as other fixed or removable corrective appliances.
Having understood what a typical overbite brace is, it would be appropriate to know the various types that may be available.
What are the types of overbite braces?
Though there are many brace types, specific for overbite conditions include the following; standard metal braces, self-ligating braces and ceramic braces.
Standard metal braces: Standard metal braces appear like metal buttons which align both the crown and root of a tooth. They are generally suitable for any given age but show more suitability with adolescents who have secondary dentition.
Self-ligating braces: This type of overbite bracing uniquely do not require the use of elastics. It ensures the less friction is placed on the tooth. They maintain same size as the metal braces but give more aesthetic appearance hence good for adults. Self-ligating overbite braces are of two types and include;
- the active brackets use thicker archwire which applies greater pressure on the teeth hence forcefully moving them into position.
- the passive which uses a smaller archwire that creates less friction hence allowing teeth to move relatively freely. They are employed early in treatment of overbites to move the teeth into position.
Ceramic braces: ceramic overbite braces are very similar to traditional braces but differ considerable in the fact that they either have tooth-colored or clear brackets. Overbite ceramic braces are much less noticeable compared with the traditional braces. This is why it is usually the brace of choice for adults who would express much concern on the visibility of dental braces.
Now let us look at the mechanisms with which the overbite braces work to give the required positioning or alignment to the teeth.
The general working principle of overbite braces
Generally, the various types of overbite braces share a common working principle. This is based on continuous application of pressure over a period of time which slowly moves and positions the teeth in a specific direction. As the braces apply pressure while moving the teeth, the bone changes shape as well. It is important to consider the various components of the overbite brace and their individual functions to be able to understand fully how the braces work. However, overbite braces consist of the following:
- Orthodontic bands: cemented to each tooth with dental bonding agents provide an anchor for the bracket. The orthodontic bands are usually made of either stainless steel, clear, or tooth-colored materials. The clear or tooth-colored bands are preferred as they are more cosmetically appealing options but are more expensive than stainless steel.
- Brackets: function as handles that hold the arch wires that move the teeth. The brackets consist of the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth or in some cases attached to orthodontic bands. They are often corrective appliances of choice as for adults as they are less visible.
- The buccal tube: is found on the band of the last tooth. it is vital component of the brace as it holds the end of the arch wire tightly in position.
- Spacers: are often fixed between two teeth to provide a small gap. This usually comes before the placement of the orthodontic bands.
- Ties which form important components of the braces work by fastening the arch wire to the individual brackets. They are small rubber rings or fine wires which may be clear, metal, or colored
- Elastics or rubber bands: work by exerting pressure on the upper teeth moving it against the lower set. This mechanism helps maintain perfect fit for the teeth. The bands attach to hooks on brackets and are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways.
- Arch wires: works by guiding the movement of the teeth as the wires act as tracks. They are normally attached to the brackets.
- Facebow headgear: this component works by moving the upper molars back into the buccal cavity to correct bite fluctuations. It also helps to contain crowded teeth. In description, the facebow comprises of an inner metal part shaped like a horseshoe. This enters the buccal cavity and attaches to buccal tubes. It also consists of an outer part that is connected to a headgear strap and moves around the outside of the face.
However, overbite braces should be determined and fixed by a specialist. A trained orthodontist would detect the degree of overbite condition, hence profer the most appropriate brace as a corrective measure. In cases where, braces are not appropriate, other options could be explored.
Due to its ease of application, comfort and convenience, braces have been employed in the treatment of all levels of overbite. It varies in structure and composition hence has been grouped into type thus; standard metallic, self-litigating and ceramic braces. Irrespective of the type of overbite braces, they share common working principles which are unique with the various components. Our choice of any type of overbite brace should be based on the directives of a trained orthodontist as he critically examines the condition.