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Can an overbite cause snoring?

me snoringAs a snorer, you might be interested in having a better understand why snoring occurs. This has been a topic of debate among medical professionals for several years now. As it turns out, there are actually numerous causes of snoring including sinus issues, carrying excessive weight, old age, drug or alcohol use, poor muscle tone in the throat, enlarged uvula or tonsils, and yes – even an excessive overbite.

The relationship between an overbite and snoring

Exactly how can an overbite cause snoring? In order to answer this question, we must first have a basic understanding of what an overbite is and then we are able to discuss how an overbite may cause snoring.

Overbites – What is considered normal?

normal overbite

Example of a normal overbite

An overbite refers to the overlapping of the lower teeth by the upper. The simple presence of an overbite is not necessarily an indication of a medical condition. However, an excessive overbite (malocclusion) can cause issues with chewing, tooth loss, discomfort, OSA and even snoring.

Exactly what is considered “excessive” when it comes to an overbite? An excessive overbite occurs when the upper teeth, (upper incisors) overlap the lower front teeth (lower incisors) by more than 1/2 the length of the tooth. This typically equates to 2-3 mm of overlap. At this point, a person is considered to have an excessive overbite and orthodontic treatment may be necessary to help correct this issue. In other instances, surgery may be necessary to correct such issues.

Many people are under the impression that having an overbite is abnormal, however, having a slight overbite is actually normal and necessary. Having teeth that are aligned on top of each other would make chewing food difficult, if not impossible.

When an excessive overbite may cause snoring

Example of an excessive overbite

Example of an excessive overbite

An excessive overbite in which the upper incisors cover the lower incisors by more than 50% has the potential to cause issues when it comes to snoring and in some cases, it may actually cause obstructive sleep apnea. Those who have an excessive overbite in addition to a small lower jaw are more likely to have a snoring problem. The relationship between an excessive overbite, a narrow lower jaw and snoring has been fairly well documented in several clinical studies.

How exactly does an overbite cause snoring? When an excessive overbite occurs, the jaw is recessed back so far that it can actually pinch the airway and cause an obstruction. The sound of snoring can be heard as air rushes past the pinched off airway causing throat tissues to vibrate against each other. In some cases the airway can be completely closed off, causing an apneic event.

Other factors such as being overweight, aging, alcohol or sedative use may cause also contribute to snoring in those with an excessive overbite. It is not at all uncommon for a snorer with an overbite to also be overweight and drink alcohol on a regular basis before going to bed. In such cases correcting an excessive overbite may not be enough to prevent snoring.

Should I consider overbite surgery?

mandibular advancement surgeryOne who has a severe overbite my rush to the conclusion that surgery is the best option. While overbite surgery is certainly an option, it should be considered a last resort due to the painful recovery that most individuals experience.

Orthognathic surgery such as mandibular advancement involves completely separating the lower jaw and moving it forward several millimeters. A series of plates and screws are used to hold the jaw together during the healing process. As you can imagine, the recovery can be quite painful and will involve a lot of bruising, swelling, and difficulty performing simple everyday tasks such as chewing or blowing your nose.

Luckily, for most people, an overbite can be straightened out with braces. While the process of correcting an overbite using braces may take longer, it will be a much less painful process. Several braces options are available including Invisalign can not only correct an excessive overbite but will also straighten out crooked teeth.

Can a snoring mouthpiece “fix” an overbite

A mandibular advancement device

A mandibular advancement device, also known as a snoring mouthpiece, helps to prevent snoring by holding the lower jaw slightly forward while sleeping. By positioning the lower jaw forward, the airway opens up and allows one to breathe better. As a result of better breathing, snoring often ceases. This type of product is only worn while asleep at night for the purpose of holding the jaw forward to prevent snoring. It’s intended purpose is not to correct an overbite, therefore it’s not going to fix an overbite.

Can this type of product be used by a person with an excessive overbite? The answer to this question will vary according to which manufacturer you ask. There are several dozen different mouthpiece designs to choose from. Some are available over-the-counter while others are professionally fitted by a dentist. It’s a good idea to speak with not only with the manufacturer but also your physician prior to using any such product.

Speak with your doctor

doctorLoud snoring can quickly become an issue, especially if you have a bed partner. In some cases, you may be able to take the matter into your own hands. Losing weight, sleeping on your side, and avoiding alcohol consumption prior to bed are three lifestyle changes anyone can practice.

In other cases, simple lifestyle changes may not be enough. If you have snoring concerns even after making a few lifestyle changes it’s a good idea to seek the opinion of your physician who can point you in the right direction.

Snoring can be related to a number of different conditions including an excessive overbite. In some cases, snoring may actually be a symptom of a more serious condition such as sleep apnea. This is why consulting with your doctor is always a good idea. A medical professional has the tools and knowledge to help determine if such sleep-related breathing disorders are a possibility.


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