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Overbite vs Overjet: Understanding the Difference

Dr. Degel May 23, 2018

Up close photo of woman in red lipstick showing off her beautiful smileWhen it comes to orthodontic issues, there are several types of malocclusion. Two of the most common are overbites and overjets. These two conditions are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between the two.

Fortunately, we provide a variety of restorative and cosmetic dentistry treatments that can address aesthetic issues and oral health problems. Here, our team at Astoria Dental Group in Queens, NY discuss overbite vs overjet, and explore causes and treatments for these conditions.

What Is an Overjet?

An overjet is characterized 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.

This protrusion puts individuals at a higher risk for breakage and dental damage. Often, an overjet is mistakenly called an overbite. However, the two conditions are distinct.

What Causes Overjet?

Some cases of overjet can be strictly genetic. However, there are many instances in which the condition is due to a childhood habit. Behaviors such as thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, or prolonged bottle or pacifier use can cause the front teeth to splay out over time.  

Treatments for Overjet

Depending on the severity of the condition, there are a few different options for treating overjet. The most popular option at our practice is Invisalign®. This revolutionary system straightens the teeth gradually over time using a series of clear thermoplastic aligner trays.

Aligners must be worn at least 22 hours every day. Approximately every two weeks, the current set of trays will be switched out for the next set in the series. In most cases, treatment can be completed in about 18 to 24 months. However, treatment times can be shorter or longer depending on the needs of the individual.

What Is an Overbite?

While an overjet refers to a horizontal issue, an overbite refers to a vertical one. Also known as a deep bite, an overbite is present if the upper front teeth cover over one-third of the lower incisors while in a closed position. In extreme cases, the lower teeth may even touch the gum tissue behind the upper front teeth.

What Causes Overbite?

An overbite is skeletal in nature. Typically, it is the result of an overdeveloped upper jaw or an underdeveloped lower jaw. Some patients have a family history of overbites, suggesting a genetic element.

Treatments for Overbite

Because an overbite is caused by skeletal abnormalities, oral surgery is often required to remedy the problem. Typically, corrective jaw surgery is performed, followed by orthodontic braces. If the condition is detected in childhood, early orthodontic treatment may eliminate the need for surgery later on.

In Conclusion

No matter what type of malocclusion you have, it is important to have it addressed as soon as possible. Braces do much more than just straighten teeth. They restore your bite and realign your jaw joints for optimal oral health and function.

When all elements of your smile are working harmoniously together, it significantly reduces your risk for tooth decay, gum disease, TMJ disorder, and a host of other dental issues.

Contact Our Practice to Learn More

During a consultation at our practice, we can help you determine if traditional braces, Invisalign, or another type of orthodontic treatment will address your unique needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call us at (718) 278-1123.

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Astoria, NY 11106

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