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Ridgewood Dental Associates

Overbite vs. Overjet: Understanding the Difference

By Jin Ha Joung on July 11, 2018

Photo of woman’s beautiful smileAre you self-conscious about your smile? Do protruding teeth detract from your overall appearance? Orthodontic malocclusion refers to any condition in which the teeth are out of their proper alignment.

Two common types of malocclusion are overbite and overjet. Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are notable differences between them. Here, our team at Ridgewood Dental in Ridgewood, NJ explores overbite vs. overjet and discusses how to address these conditions with the latest cosmetic dentistry treatments.

What Is an Overbite?

Overbite is a term that many people use to describe protruding front teeth. However, an overbite actually refers to the vertical relationship of the upper front teeth and the lower front teeth.

For example, in a typical bite, the upper incisors cover about two to three millimeters (or approximately one-third) of the lower incisors when the mouth is in a closed position. An individual with an overbite has a “deeper” bite, in which the upper front teeth cover more than one-third of the lowers.

Some patients have such a severe overbite that the lower teeth actually touch the roof of the mouth, causing irritation and inflammation to the gum tissue.

What Causes Overbite?

While certain habits can certainly exacerbate the situation, most cases of overbite are genetic in nature. Therefore, if you have a parent or grandparent with an overbite, you are more likely to have one as well.

How to Correct Overbite

Correcting an overbite can be as simple as wearing braces or as complex as undergoing oral surgery. The treatment recommended for you will be dependent on your unique situation.

If an overbite is detected early enough, when a child is still in the developmental phase, the condition could be treated with early orthodontics. In many cases, this can eliminate the need for more extensive treatments later on.

Conversely, if an adult is seeking treatment for an overbite, more invasive treatments could be necessary, such as corrective jaw surgery.

What Is an Overjet?

Commonly referred to as buck teeth, an overjet is characterized by upper front teeth that protrude or stick out. While an overbite refers to the vertical relationship of the upper and lower front teeth, an overjet concerns the horizontal relationship. In a typical bite, the normal amount of overlap measures approximately two to four millimeters. An overjet can be slight (around four to six millimeters) or severe (up to ten or more millimeters).

What Causes Overjet?

In contrast to overbite, most cases of overjet are caused by habits and behaviors. For instance, prolonged pacifier use, tongue-thrusting, and thumb-sucking can all cause the front teeth to splay out over time. In some cases, however, overjet may have a hereditary factor.

How to Correct Overjet?

An overjet is typically easier to correct compared to an overbite, as there are less skeletal issues involved. In many cases, we can correct an overjet with Invisalign®. If your overjet is complex, traditional orthodontics may provide a more predictable outcome.

Learn More about Cosmetic Dentistry at Our Practice

Do you have an overbite, overjet, or any other type of malocclusion? If so, our team at Ridgewood Dental can help. To schedule a consultation with us, contact us online or give us a call at (201) 652-2474.

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Ridgewood Office

166 Franklin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

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