What Are Buck Teeth?

Steve R.

A person with buck teeth has visibly overhanging upper teeth. Not life-threatening, the teeth may nonetheless negatively affect a person’s appearance and can cause trouble eating. The term buck teeth comes from the dental resemblance to a moose. A person with teeth of this kind can have his or her teeth realigned by corrective methods, which typically include orthodontic braces.

Buck teeth can be corrected by wearing braces for a few years.
Buck teeth can be corrected by wearing braces for a few years.

The protruding appearance of buck teeth is most often the result of a condition called an extreme or increased overjet. Overjet refers to an overabundance of horizontal space between the top and bottom teeth. The condition may be the result of genetics or caused by a discord between the size of a person’s jaw and his teeth. In addition, an overjet may be worsened by a child’s tendency to suck his or her thumb. When a child’s permanent teeth come in, usually around the age of 8 years, buck teeth, if present, will make themselves known.

Someone with a pronounced overbite may have trouble brushing his teeth.
Someone with a pronounced overbite may have trouble brushing his teeth.

While the condition may be fairly common, a person with buck teeth may be teased by peers. Teasing may be no more life-threatening than the teeth themselves, but it can contribute to a a negative self-image. Possibly exacerbating the situation, this condition may also cause speech problems. In addition to psychological issues, the dental condition may cause some physiological problems. A person who has a pronounced overbite may have trouble brushing his teeth, for example, which can lead to plaque buildup.

Young people may feel more confident around their peers after buck teeth have been straightened.
Young people may feel more confident around their peers after buck teeth have been straightened.

A person with buck teeth may consult an orthodontist, a professional who specializes in realigning teeth and jaws. One of the most common ways of fixing buck teeth is through the use of orthodontia, or dental braces. A person fitted with braces has connecting bands, wires, and brackets applied to his or her teeth.

Children who breathe through their mouth as a result of nasal allergies may have an increased risk of developing an overbite.
Children who breathe through their mouth as a result of nasal allergies may have an increased risk of developing an overbite.

The use of braces assists in bringing the teeth into their correct positions in the jaw. Over the course of multiple visits, the orthodontist tightens the patient’s braces about once every four weeks. The tightening typically causes discomfort as the teeth gradually shift. A person looking to correct buck teeth may need to wear braces for a few years. The teenage years are a common time for orthodontia. An adult with the dental condition can elect to get braces, however.

X-rays can be used to help dentists determine the best treatment for buck teeth.
X-rays can be used to help dentists determine the best treatment for buck teeth.

Other methods of correcting protruding teeth may include the use of headgear. Headgear is a mechanism worn around a person’s head, in some cases only overnight, not 24 hours a day. It includes a conspicuous metal wire in the front. The device slows the development of a person’s upper jaw while pulling the front teeth back.

An orthodontist may determine the best method for correcting buck teeth during an examination.
An orthodontist may determine the best method for correcting buck teeth during an examination.

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Discussion Comments

Inaventu

@Cageybird, my parents did pay for corrective dental procedures, but I still got teased for wearing those bulky "railroad track" braces and a retainer. My buck teeth became less noticeable after a few years, but my overbite remained. The rest of my teeth grew in to accommodate the slight overbite, so the dentist decided there was nothing more that could be done.

Cageybird

I have buck teeth, and my parents didn't have the means to have it corrected. I had to endure a lot of teasing from classmates, since they associated buck teeth with uneducated rural people. I also heard the pejorative nickname "Bucky Beaver" a lot. My dad also had buck teeth, and he said the same things happened to him when he was in school.

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