Wisdom Teeth: Removal, Maintenance and Cavity Prevention

The Right Kind of Overbite: Why it is Normal to Have a Slight Overbite

Did you know that the bite of prehistoric humans was different to that of modern humans? About 10,000 years ago, in the Neolithic Age, a typical human would eat by gripping food, such as a hunk of meat, between their teeth, and tearing it into pieces. Eating this way, caused humans to have an edge-to-edge bite.

However, 250 years ago, a slight overbite became the norm. What happened? The knife and fork happened. Up until the knife and fork were invented, humans had to predominantly tear their food with their teeth. However, when the knife and fork came along, humans were able to cut their food into bite-sized chunks. Thus, the edge-to-edge bite became a thing of the past.

How Much of an Overbite is Normal?

It is quite common for patients to believe that they have an overbite that requires correction through orthodontic treatment such as braces. However, in many cases, their overbite is actually ideal. Many people don't know this but with a normal overbite, the upper incisors in the front of the mouth overlap the lower incisors, covering anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of them.

When such a person is viewed from the side then, in profile view, their upper teeth will clearly be slightly further forward than their lower teeth. This is considered an ideal bite. The prehistoric edge-to-edge bite accelerated wear and tear. For example, a prehistoric person in their 30s would have teeth as worn as those of a modern person in their 60s.

What if I Have an Edge to Edge Bite?

If the edges of your teeth meet each other head on, your teeth will experience accelerated wear and tear just as the teeth of prehistoric humans did. Braces or Invisalign can correct this issue by pushing the upper teeth out and pulling the lower teeth in to achieve a slight overbite. You will need to wear a retainer after treatment, however, to ensure your teeth do not relapse.

What if My Upper Teeth Cover the Lower Teeth?

If your upper teeth only cover about 1/3 to 1/2 of the lower teeth, that is considered a normal overbite and doesn't need treatment. However, if your lower teeth are coming into contact with the backs of your upper teeth, your overbite is too pronounced and should ideally be corrected with braces.

Speak to your dentist, or your child dentist if this is an issue your child is experiencing, to see whether your bite is within the ideal range or not. They can help to put your mind at ease, and suggest a suitable course of treatment in the event that your bite needs adjustment.