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How to Fix Overlapped Teeth

Fixing overlapped teeth can be a life-changer and many patients choose to undergo the procedures despite the expense.
Fixing overlapped teeth can be a life-changer and many patients choose to undergo the procedures despite the expense.
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Happiness is something everyone wants to feel, and a smile is an instinctual expression of that most desired of emotions. When you think of it that way, you realize that anything that keeps you from sharing a broad smile is damaging your quality of life. Overlapping teeth are one such example.

Overlapping teeth can simply be something you inherited or they can be caused by bad habits you had as a toddler, like sucking on your thumb or relying on that "binky" a little too long. You may have lost a tooth at some point, which caused your other teeth to shift or your facial structure may have changed as you've gotten older [source: Total Healthcare]. Whatever the case may be, fixing those overlapped teeth can have numerous benefits.

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It may be considered a cosmetic change, but having straight teeth can be quite important. Improved self-esteem is one of the advantages of a healthy smile. You can boldly enter an interview, laugh on a date or chuckle at a friend's joke without being concerned about how your smile looks. In addition, your dental hygiene may be better because bacteria can't hide in those overlapping spots. Speech problems caused by overlapping teeth can also be eliminated [source: Hommer].

Fortunately, there are a lot of options available for remaking that smile of yours. They range from a variety of braces to dental sculpting techniques and veneers. The long-term effectiveness and expense also runs the gamut. Some procedures involve next to no discomfort while others can be painful and annoying. You'll also want to check with your insurance provider before having the dental work done because the amount they cover -- if anything -- can vary greatly.

The procedure you and your dentist decide is best for you will depend, in part, on whether you have a mild problem or a more complicated set of overlaps.

Options include:

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  • Braces -- This highly effective and traditional approach can also be costly, and it'll involve having a smile of wires for anywhere from a matter of months to a couple of years. You can opt to go with lingual braces which can't be seen because they're attached to the back of your teeth, but those can cause a lot of discomfort. "The Six Month Smile" braces are something else to consider. They're connected to the front of the teeth, but the wires are tinier and they come in shades of white, which makes them less unsightly [source: Total Healthcare].
  • Invisalign -- As their name implies, Invisalign devices are intended to fix the problem without being seen. They're also removable. Want to eat a caramel apple or some chewy candy? You can just take the brace-like mouthpiece out and chomp away. You can also remove them before your brush. The downside? They're expensive and aren't ideal for severe overlapping [source: Total Healthcare].
  • Sculpting -- Sometimes all your teeth need is some reshaping. Your dentist can use a laser or drill to reduce overlapping and give those pearly whites a bit more room. Be advised, your teeth could be weakened by the process. Bonding is another means of changing the shape of your teeth. In that procedure, a hardening paste is applied to the tooth which can then be shaped [source: Cleveland Clinic].
  • Veneers -- A veneer is like a perfectly shaped case for a tooth. Your dentist will sculpt your existing teeth, build a mold, and then put the veneer over the old teeth. The veneers also have the extra benefit of brightening your smile, since they can be made in any shade. The downside is their cost. Depending on the material used, veneers can run from $250 to $1,500 per tooth [source: Johnstone].

Generally, you can expect costs for fixing overlapped teeth to be in the ballpark of $1,800 to $6,500, and insurance companies view the procedures differently. If they interpret the dental work to simply be cosmetic, you may not get any help with the bill. Fixing overlapped teeth, however, can be a life-changer and many patients choose to undergo the procedures despite the expense [source: Cleveland Clinic].

Keep reading: There's a lot more information on the next page.

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Sources

  • Cleveland Clinic. "Braces and Retainers." (Oct. 20, 2011) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/devices/dental_care/hic_braces_and_retainers.aspx
  • Dentalfind.com. "Straighten Overlapping Teeth." (Oct. 20, 2011) http://www.dentalfind.com/go/teeth-straightening/article/overlapteeth.html
  • Johnstone, Greg. "Dental Veneers Cost and Procedure Details." Consumer Guide to Dentistry. (Oct. 20, 2011) http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/veneer-procedure/
  • Total Healthcare. "Tooth Straightening." (Oct. 20, 2011) http://www.totalhealthcare.com/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-straightening/
  • Z. Hommer. "Correct Defective Teeth through Dental Contouring." Dental Cosmetics. July 15, 2010. (Oct. 20, 2011) http://www.mydentalcosmetics.com/index.php/tag/fix-overlapping-teeth/

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