An overbite occurs when your upper jaw protrudes farther than your lower jaw and your upper teeth overlap with your lower teeth. This is one of the most common dental issues, but it doesn’t just affect your dental health.
Because it affects the structure of your mouth and jaw, an overbite can make you snore. This cause of snoring is often overlooked, but people with overbites are more likely to snore than people without. If you can’t figure out why you snore every night, dental misalignment may be responsible. Luckily, there are many treatments available to fix your overbite and to stop snoring.
What Is a Normal Overbite?
Having a slight overbite is normal. If your teeth were aligned exactly on top of each other, it would be difficult or impossible to chew food. Your upper teeth should rest slightly in front of your lower teeth.
Usually, with a normal overbite, your upper incisors will overlap with 30 to 50 percent of your lower incisors. However, it can be hard to tell on your own, so you should consult with your dentist if you have any concerns.
How Do I Know If I have an Excessive Overbite?
An overbite is usually considered excessive when your upper incisors overlap your lower incisors by more than 2 or 3 millimeters. Over time, this can cause pain and problems with chewing. It can also lead to tooth damage and affect your facial features.
If you have a dental overbite, your jaw is positioned correctly, but your teeth are out of alignment. If you have a skeletal overbite, the problem is with the structure of your jawbone. Your upper jaw may extend too far, or your lower jaw may be pushed back. Skeletal overbites are more commonly linked to snoring than dental overbites.
How Can an Excessive Overbite Cause Snoring?
Snoring is caused by the vibration of tissues in your mouth and throat as you inhale. This happens when your soft palate, tongue, uvula, or other tissues collapse, partially block your airway, and vibrate against each other.
If you have a skeletal overbite, your lower jaw is probably pushed far back in your mouth. It may be pinching or narrowing your airway, which increases the chances that the tissues in your throat will connect and vibrate against each other while you sleep. When you’re awake, the muscles in your throat will hold your airway open wide enough to breathe properly. However, these muscles will relax when you sleep, so your already-narrow airway will become even narrower.
A severe overbite can even cause obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that makes you stop breathing while you sleep. If your jaw is pushed so far back that it completely blocks your airway while you sleep, you won’t be able to breathe. Every time your airway is blocked and you stop breathing, you’ll wake up to gasp for air. This can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and a lack of oxygen in your body, which are both serious issues.
What Else Can Cause Snoring?
An overbite can make you snore, but it’s rarely the only cause. It usually makes an existing snoring problem worse or combines with other factors to affect your breathing. Most people with an overbite who snore also have at least one other risk factor for snoring.
One of the most common causes of snoring is simply your sleeping position. You’re much more likely to snore if you sleep on your back because gravity can increase the pressure on your throat and pull the tissues down over your airway.
Being overweight or obese is another common cause of snoring. The extra weight around your throat will put pressure on your airway, which may cause the tissues to collapse while you sleep. Consuming alcohol before bed can cause the tissues to collapse, too. When you drink right before going to sleep, your throat muscles may relax excessively and block your airway.
Allergies or other nasal problems can cause sleep-disordered breathing as well. If you’re congested, you’ll probably breathe through your mouth while you sleep. Mouth breathing causes the air to flow directly past all of the tissues in your mouth and throat that can vibrate and create the snoring sound.
Should I Pay For Overbite Surgery?
One option to fix a snoring problem caused by an overbite is orthognathic surgery, which corrects issues with the structure of the jaw. To correct an overbite, your doctor may recommend a mandibular advancement procedure. This surgery involves detaching your lower jaw and moving it forward a few millimeters. While your jaw heals, it will be held together with plates and screws.
Surgery might seem like an ideal solution, but it should be your last resort. Jaw surgery typically has a tough recovery period. You may experience pain, swelling, and bruising for several days or weeks while your jaw heals. It will be difficult to chew and speak while you recover, and you’ll have to take time off of work.
You should try other treatment options before considering overbite surgery. Most people have great success with braces to correct an overbite and properly align their jaw. Although braces will take longer to work than a surgery, they’re a much easier option. You may be a candidate for clear aligners like Invisalign, so no one will even notice that you have braces.
You can also try snoring treatments that may target the other potential causes of your snoring. If you sleep on your back, getting in the habit of sleeping on your side may have a big impact. You can sleep with a body pillow to prevent yourself from rolling over onto your back in the middle of the night. Lifestyle changes like losing weight and not drinking alcohol right before bed can help, too.
If no other treatments stop your snoring, you may want to consider overbite surgery. The surgery should permanently fix the problem and align your jaw.
Can a Snoring Mouthpiece Help?
Snoring mouthpieces are some of the most popular treatments available today. They position the mouth in a way that keeps your airway open while you sleep. The best option for snoring caused by an overbite is probably a mandibular advancement device. This device has a similar effect to the mandibular advancement surgery, but it only lasts for as long as you keep the mouthpiece in.
Like a traditional mouth guard, you can mold the mandibular advancement device to your teeth with the “boil and bite” method. It will hold your lower jaw forward while you sleep, which will open up your throat and let you breathe easily and quietly.
Mandibular advancement devices are not designed to fix overbites. They can temporarily change the alignment of your jaw to stop snoring, but you’ll still have an overbite. Because your overbite can cause pain, discomfort, and other dental issues, you should still speak to your doctor or dentist about it.
Another option is a tongue stabilizing device, which holds your tongue forward while you sleep and stops it from blocking your airway. Most people find that it’s very easy to adjust to, and it doesn’t need to be custom-fitted like a mandibular advancement device. Not everyone who snores because of an overbite will benefit from this device, but it may help reduce your snoring.
Whatever the cause of your snoring, you should consult your doctor about the issue. Snoring can affect the quality of your sleep and is sometimes a sign of a more serious sleep disorder, so it’s never something that should be ignored. Your doctor can recommend snoring treatments or refer you to an orthodontist to discuss overbite solutions.