Why Getting Rid of 'Buck Teeth' Is Easier Than You Thought.

Why Getting Rid of 'Buck Teeth' Is Easier Than You Thought.
profile picture of Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Why Getting Rid of 'Buck Teeth' Is Easier Than You Thought.Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Content featured by Byte is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed doctor, orthodontist, or dentist. They ensure the information is factual and current.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and each page contains a full list of sources for transparency.

Table of Contents

  1. Causes
  2. Easier to Fix Than You Thought
  3. Treatment Options
  4. Fixing Buck Teeth
  5. Living with buck teeth
  6. References

Prominent front teeth, or buck teeth, may appear in childhood. They are often corrected with a course of braces in the early teenage years.

In some cases, the shape of your jaw, genetic potential, and lifestyle habits like tongue thrusting may make buck teeth appear later in life. As more adults pursue orthodontic treatment to improve their smiles, more people are seeking treatment for buck teeth.

You may feel self-conscious about your buck teeth and wonder if it is even possible to fix them. The good news is that you can treat malocclusions like buck teeth. Some overbites require braces, but many people can easily fix their buck teeth with just a few months of clear aligners.

Causes of buck teeth.

Most of the time, buck teeth are hereditary. If your parents had buck teeth, you are more likely to have them yourself.

Besides genetics, some habits can cause buck teeth. You might have buck teeth if you:

  • Sucked your thumb. While many babies and young toddlers suck their thumbs, the practice can cause problems, including buck teeth, if it continues beyond age 3 or so.
  • Used a pacifier. Some parents encourage their toddlers to use pacifiers, thinking that they can avoid the buck teeth associated with thumb sucking. Unfortunately, pacifier use can also cause buck teeth. While there are some brands of pacifiers that claim to be “orthodontic pacifiers,” any pacifier use should be discouraged beyond age 3.
  • Have alignment issues. Whether you have crowded teeth or impacted teeth, these alignment issues can sometimes create buck teeth.
  • Are missing teeth. Similarly, missing teeth can cause teeth to shift over time, contributing to buck teeth.
  • Have a tongue thrust. This means that your tongue pushes against your front teeth too much, often every time you swallow. Since the tongue is so strong, it can gradually push the teeth forward over time, resulting in an open bite and even buck teeth.

Buck teeth: easier to fix than you thought.

You can fix buck teeth in adulthood. Many treatment approaches are simple and fast. First, you need to determine the severity of your malocclusion. An orthodontist can evaluate this in person, or an aligner company will assess your impressions to diagnose the severity.

There are three categories of malocclusion.

Categories of Malocclusion or Buck Teeth
  1. Class 1: This is the most common form of misalignment. The person has a normal bite, but the upper teeth somewhat overlap the bottom teeth. This may still create the appearance of buck teeth.
  2. Class 2: This is also called retrognathism or overbite. It happens when the upper jaw and teeth seriously overlap the lower ones.
  3. Class 3: Typically called an underbite or prognathism, this is when the lower jaw and teeth jut forward and overlap the upper jaw and teeth.

If you have a serious malocclusion like buck teeth or an overbite, you may have a hard time biting and chewing. You may have trouble properly cleaning your teeth, and you may even have an abnormal appearance to your face.

Even people with mild cases of buck teeth often feel very self-conscious with this slight misalignment. Thankfully, there are various treatments that can correct an overbite with relative ease.

Buck teeth can make you feel self-conscious, but they can be easily corrected with a variety of devices and treatments, like clear aligners or functional appliances.

Treating buck teeth, overbites and malocclusions in the top jaw.

Depending on how serious your overbite or buck teeth are, you will need a different combination of treatments. Here are some of the most common ways to correct buck teeth:

Orthodontic Devices

Braces have long been the most popular approach to treating any malocclusion, including jaw alignment issues like overbites and related visible problems like buck teeth.

Braces conjure images of mouths filled with metal, but newer devices like clear aligners are more subtle, take less time, and are likely to be less expensive than braces. Aligners work best on correcting teeth alignment, not jaw alignment, so they may not work for severe overbites.

Functional Appliances

Specific appliances can be temporarily implanted to shift jaws and retrain muscles and ligaments to keep teeth in proper alignment. You may have straight teeth, but if your jaws are improperly aligned, you can still have the appearance of buck teeth.

Some functional appliances are removable, so you wear them only a few hours a day. Others may attach to braces and work in combination with this stronger orthodontic treatment. Lower jaw expanders, for example, push your jaw wider to meet your upper jaw. This can reduce the appearance of buck teeth.

Tooth Extraction
Sometimes, back teeth crowd front teeth to the point that they cannot be shifted. Your orthodontist may decide that removing these teeth and shifting the remaining ones back is the best process for correcting an overbite or buck teeth.
Jaw Surgery
Very serious malocclusions that cause ongoing health problems and poor appearance may require jaw surgery. Models and x-rays of your teeth and jaw may show that surgery will shift your jaw into correct alignment, allowing your bones to grow together properly. You are likely to need 12 to 18 months of braces prior to this surgery.

Fixing buck teeth does not have to take years.

Each treatment for overbite or buck teeth takes a different amount of time. Depending on your underlying medical needs, you could have a long-term plan spanning about two years. For example, braces, surgery, and other appliances in combination can take several months or even years each. But if your malocclusion is serious enough that your oral health is at risk, spending the time on this process is important.

Some people benefit from using clear aligners to treat buck teeth. If your problem is mild, more cosmetic and causes few health issues, you can get a series of doctor-monitored, at-home aligners. These aligners push teeth into place much like braces, but they can work faster and look better. Sometimes, clear aligners are called “invisible braces” because they are not noticeable.

In some cases, clear aligners may be recommended after jaw surgery, tooth extraction, or a shorter course of treatment with braces.

To determine if aligners can get rid of your buck teeth, you’ll need to take at-home impressions of your teeth. You’ll then mail those to the aligner company, and a doctor will assess whether aligners can work for you.

If you learn your case is too severe for aligner treatment, visit an orthodontist to learn about what will work best for your situation.

What not to do

Do not attempt to fix your buck teeth at home. Moving buck teeth back into alignment requires professional assistance and equipment. If you attempt to do any of this at home on your own, you are likely to cause serious damage to your mouth and teeth.

Living with buck teeth

While there are plenty of ways to treat buck teeth, many people opt to simply live with them. If you do, there are certain steps you can take to protect your oral health and mitigate issues related to buck teeth.

  • See your dentist regularly. Make regular twice-yearly dental appointments to get full cleanings and assessments.
  • Brush and floss daily. Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily and flossing at least once per day.
  • Try to control your tongue. If you have a tongue thrust, try to keep the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth rather than on the back of your front teeth.
  • Wear a night guard. This can help to protect your teeth at night, particularly if you clench or grind while you sleep.
  • See your doctor. If you have any breathing or speech issues associated with your buck teeth, see your doctor for an assessment. There might be devices or exercises they recommend to help the issue.

References.

Malocclusion of Teeth. (February 2018). U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Dental Braces. (May 2019). Mayo Clinic.

What Causes Buck Teeth? Colgate.

Overjet vs. Overbite: What’s the Difference? Colgate.

Retainers and Other Orthodontic Appliances. Consumer Guide to Dentistry.

The Claim: Thumb Sucking Can Lead to Buck Teeth. (September 2005). The New York Times.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

TOP