What’s the difference between an overbite and an overjet?

Overbite and overjet problems are common orthodontic conditions.  An overjet is often mistakenly called an overbite, however, the two conditions are distinct. So today, we’re going to discuss the difference between the two as well as how your orthodontist can help treat it.

What is an overjet?

An overjet is characterised by the protrusion of the upper front teeth. Commonly referred to as buck teeth, the condition is present when there is a prominent horizontal overlap where the front teeth overlap their neighbours. This protrusion puts individuals at a higher risk of knocking or chipping their front teeth. The normal range for an overjet when the upper incisors are in front of the lower incisors is 1.5 – 2.5 millimetres.

What is an overbite?

While an overjet refers to a horizontal issue, an overbite refers to a vertical one. A deep overbite is when the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth by more than one-third. In severe cases, the lower teeth may even touch the gum tissue behind the upper front teeth. In general a normal range for an overbite is 2-3 millimetres.

overjet teeth

What causes overjet teeth?

Genetic and hereditary factors relating to jaw development can be a major cause of overjet teeth. Buck teeth (increase overjet) can also be caused by childhood habits such as extensive thumb sucking and prolonged bottle feeding that can push the jaw and teeth further out of line.

Overbites and overjets tend to be easier to treat in children and teenagers since a child’s jaw is still developing, however, correction for these conditions is also common for adults.

What causes an overbite?

The most common cause of an overbite is the shape or size of the jaw or teeth, however the habits mentioned above and tongue thrusting can also exacerbate underlying genetic traits to increase an overbite.

Is it normal to have an overbite?

When it comes to an overbite, a small amount of overlap is normal for everybody. However, when this condition is pronounced, causes difficulty chewing or speaking or is leading to pain, then it needs to be addressed by a professional.

What happens when you have an overbite or overjet?

If left untreated, an overbite or overjet can cause significant health complications including:

Jaw pain

A misaligned jaw can cause chronic jaw pain and headaches, which may contribute to the development of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).

Difficulty speaking or chewing

An overjet can make proper chewing difficult, while also affecting your speech. You use your teeth, lips, and tongue together to create sounds which means you may have difficulty pronouncing some words when your teeth are very protruded.

overjet vs overbite

Sleep apnoea

Not getting enough sleep? People with overjets are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnoea, especially if their overjet is associated with a small set-back lower jaw.

Fractured teeth and increased wear and tear

When you have an overbite, your teeth will often hit each other during rest and function, causing enamel wear and tear, tooth fracture and even tooth loss.

Gum damage

In severe cases, the lower front teeth can contact the gum line in the back of the upper front teeth, while the upper front teeth may strike the gum line of the lower front teeth. This could result in gum recession, gum disease, and even wiggly loose teeth.

Can braces fix an overbite?

Orthodontists are often asked if braces fix an overbite and overjet. The answer is yes! After an examination, your orthodontist can diagnose the severity of your overbite or overjet and suggest the best method for correction. For most people that means plates, braces or clear aligners, but sometimes, the overbite or overjet occurs due to a malformed jaw, so surgery may be required.

Use our Orthodontist Finder Tool to find a specialist orthodontist near you. They will help you make the right decision about how to treat your overbite or overjet.

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