Will Overbite and Teeth Crowding Weaken Teeth?

I have an overbite with crowding of upper teeth. I am concerned, will that 'filing' of teeth reduce the enamel and cause weaker teeth?

Doctor Answers 7

What weakens teeth?

The simple answer is ACID weakens teeth. That's about it. (Having said that...You could arguably say some fillings weaken teeth. That's another story.) The reality is crowding, overbite, underbite, grinding, clenching, chewing ice, etc will not 'weaken' your teeth, they DAMAGE your teeth. The difference is that damage is irreversible, weak teeth can usually be fortified. Acid attacks occur all day, when we eat and drink. The bacteria in our mouth breaks the sugar down and the byproduct is acid. Our teeth can only withstand about a 30 minute attack before it the enamel begins to soften. Floride can refortify or reverse this damage if used after the attack. The damage from an overbite, etc is usually abnormal and excessive wear of the teeth that can lead to tooth fracture, root canals or even tooth loss over time. Most people experience spontaneous enamel fracture over the years at inopportune times that can be embarrassing and painful. Some may refer to this as weaking. Fyi-tooth whitening doesn't weaken teeth either.

Chesterfield Orthodontist

Having an overbite and teeth crowding may weaken teeth..

Having a non-ideal bite may weaken teeth over time as having properly interdigitating teeth actually protects your teeth overall from excessive wear over time, especially if you grind your teeth. Certain concepts as "incisal guidance" and "protrusive excursion" can be obtained from an ideal occlusion, which entails (without being technical) roughly 2mm of overbite, teeth fitting together on the side properly, and minimal crowding. Enamel removal between teeth may be necessary to achieve this as many times, the ratio of tooth structure of the top jaw over the bottom jaw may not be balanced enough to allow the teeth to fit together. Thus, your orthodontist may chose to equalize your tooth size discrepancy to give you an ideal bite. Overall, if done properly, this is NOT harmful to your teeth.


Mazyar Moshiri, DMD, MS
Saint Louis Orthodontist

Dentofacial Orthopedics or bone developing orthodontics

A better question is how can I get the most ideal correction of an overbite and crowding?  Overbites and crowding are due to skeletal imbalances that can be corrected at any age with dentofacial orthopedics, a European style of orthodontics that can correct these problems without permanent teeth removal (or tooth reduction or surgery) and a significant reduction of of time in braces.  Patients end up with a full beautiful smile with better facial proportions, something to really smile about!

Kent Lauson, DDS, MS
Denver Orthodontist

"Filing of teeth" is a common procedure that does not weaken teeth if done properly

Tooth filing, also known as "slenderizing" is used to correct minor crowding.  It does not weaken the teeth because it removes only a small fraction of the enamel between the teeth.  If there is major crowding and a significant overbite other procedures will also be needed along with the braces.  Your orthodontist will be careful to keep the slenderizing to a safe level.

Brian Povolny, DDS, PhD
Seattle Orthodontist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Depends on How Much Filing is Required

This question could be answered two ways: Reducing the enamel on the top of the teeth or reducing the enamel on the sides of the teeth. 

Wearing down the enamel on the tops of your teeth, otherwise known as grinding, can cause potential chipping of teeth - possibly even fracturing of teeth - and exposure of the dentin of the teeth which can lead to sensitivity.  At our office, we try to limit incisal reduction.  

When you consider grinding the sides of the teeth, please consider that most teeth have about 2 milimeters of enamel (protective layer of a tooth).  Usually when we file, we file no more than a quarter of a milimeter, thereby keeping the integrity of the teeth.  On very rare ocassions, this could lead to sensitivity.  However, this is extremely rare.

Tony Cucalon III DDS
San Francisco Orthodontist

Filing for Invisalign is minor

Sometimes referred to as slenderizing, the filing between the teeth is minor. If you are concerned, ask for some fluoride gel to place in the aligners to help reminerlize

Lance Timmerman, DMD, MAGD
Seattle Dentist
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

What do you mean by "filing?"

Having an overbite with crowding does not weaken teeth but crowded teeth are more likely to trap food which can result in decay. Generally, the best way to correct both an overbite and crowding is by orthodontic treatment. If the teeth are simply "filed" to correct the overbite, this will remove enamel which may expose the dentine, making the teeth sensitive and more prone to decay. It will also alter the height:width ratio of the teeth (ie. the teeth may look short and wide), resulting in a poor aesthetic result. The teeth, however, may be prepared for veneers to try to correct the crowding.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.