Reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Foley, DDS

Reading time: four minutes.

Did you know that your jaw alignment significantly impacts your oral health, facial appearance, and overall well-being? An overbite, also known as “buck teeth,” is a common jaw misalignment issue. 

Though minor overbites might not cause major problems, severe overbites can lead to a range of dental and health issues.

In this blog, we’ll explain overbites. We’ll talk about what causes them, treatment options, and how jaw surgery can provide a lasting solution for severe cases.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Jaw surgery can fix severe overbites when braces alone won’t be as effective. It improves your smile, makes eating easier, and can even reshape your face for a confidence boost.

What is an Overbite (Buck Teeth)?

An overbite occurs when your upper front teeth significantly overlap your lower front teeth. In a normal overbite, there’s a slight overlap of about 2 millimeters. However, when this overlap becomes excessive, it’s classified as a severe overbite.

What Does an Overbite Look Like?

  • Prominent upper teeth: In a severe overbite, the upper front teeth jut out significantly, sometimes even completely covering the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. This can make the upper lip appear fuller and the chin appear smaller or receding.
  • “Buck teeth” appearance: The colloquial term “buck teeth” describes the pronounced forward angle of the upper teeth, giving the mouth a rounded shape.
  • Deep bite (vertical overlap): The upper teeth may overlap the lower teeth excessively, often covering more than half of the lower tooth’s visible surface. In extreme cases, the lower teeth can even bite into the roof of the mouth.

What Causes an Overbite?

Overbites can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Genetics: Some people are simply predisposed to having an overbite due to their inherited jaw structure. This is often referred to as a skeletal overbite.
  • Childhood habits: Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can push the upper teeth forward, creating an overbite.
  • Extra tooth: An extra tooth or supernumerary tooth can crowd the mouth, pushing the upper teeth out of alignment.
  • Overcrowding of teeth: Crowded teeth can also lead to misalignment and overbites.
  • Jaw growth issues: If the lower jaw doesn’t develop properly, it can result in a receding chin and an overbite.

Overbite Treatment Options

The type of treatment needed for an overbite depends on its severity and underlying cause. Some common options include:

  1. Orthodontic treatment:
    • Traditional braces: Metal brackets and wires gradually move teeth into the correct position.
    • Clear aligners: These are a less visible alternative to traditional braces and work similarly to align teeth over time.
  2. Tooth extraction: In cases of overcrowding, removing a tooth (or teeth) can create space for proper alignment. However, this treatment is no longer done frequently as it can predispose the patient to having sleep apnea in the future.
  3. Growth modification devices: These are used in children and young adults whose jaws are still developing to guide jaw growth and prevent a worsening overbite. If this is done when the child is young it can help prevent the need for jaw surgery in the future.

When is Jaw Surgery Needed?

In cases of severe overbites, where the misalignment is primarily caused by the jawbone structure (skeletal overbite), orthodontic treatment alone may not be enough. This is where jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery or corrective jaw surgery, comes in.

What is Involved in Jaw Surgery?

Jaw surgery is a specialized procedure performed by oral surgeons. The surgery involves repositioning the upper or lower jaw (or both) to correct the overbite. 

During the surgery:

  1. Precise incisions: The surgeon makes careful cuts in the jawbone.
  2. Repositioning: The jaws are moved into their new, corrected positions.
  3. Securing: Plates, screws, or wires are used to hold the jaws in place while they heal.

Benefits Beyond Straight Teeth

Jaw surgery offers many advantages for individuals with severe overbites:

  • Functional bite: A properly aligned bite improves chewing, speech, and overall oral function.
  • Facial harmony: The surgery can improve facial aesthetics, creating a more balanced and symmetrical profile.
  • Relief from pain: Severe overbites can cause jaw pain, headaches, and TMJ disorders. Surgery can alleviate these issues.
  • Improved oral health: Proper tooth alignment reduces the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.
  • Boosted confidence: Many patients experience a significant boost in self-esteem after jaw surgery due to their improved appearance and oral function.


Overbite surgery before

Before Overbite Jaw Surgery

Overbite surgery after

After Overbite Jaw Surgery

Jaw and Oral Surgery in Boulder, CO

If you’re struggling with a severe overbite, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Our experienced oral surgeons at Foley and Le Oral Surgery can evaluate your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment option for you. 

Whether it’s orthodontic treatment or jaw surgery, we’re committed to helping you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile that you can confidently share with the world.

If you need jaw or oral surgery in Boulder, CO call (303) 444-2255 to schedule a consultation today.

FAQs About Overbites

Do overbites get worse with age?

Yes, overbites can worsen with age if left untreated. The wear and tear on the teeth, changes in the jawbone, and continuous pressure on the misaligned teeth can exacerbate the condition. This can lead to more severe dental issues, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and TMJ disorders.

Can you fix an overbite?

Yes, an overbite can be fixed using various treatment methods, ranging from orthodontic solutions like braces or clear aligners to more intensive procedures like jaw surgery for severe cases. The appropriate treatment depends on the cause and severity of the overbite.

How much of an overbite is normal?

A slight overbite, where the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth by about 2 millimeters, is considered normal. This minor overlap helps protect the teeth and allows for proper function.

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