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Overbite vs. Overjet: What Is the Difference?

By Eugene D. Stanislaus on August 06, 2018


Up close photo of a beautiful smileWhen it comes to orthodontic malocclusion, there are several different options in cosmetic dentistry that can address the problem and deliver a healthier, more aesthetically pleasing smile.

Two common types of malocclusion include overbites and overjets. These two conditions are often confused with one another. However, there are significant differences between the two.

Today, the doctors at our Brooklyn, NY dental practice discuss overbite vs. overjet and explore treatment options for each of these concerns.

Understanding Overbites

An overbite is characterized by the vertical overlap of the upper incisors over the lower incisors. In simple terms, it measures how far the upper teeth extend downward over the lower teeth when in a closed position.

In a typical overbite, approximately one-third of the lower incisors are covered by the upper incisors. Individuals with a mild overbite may have upper front teeth that cover half or more of the lower front teeth. In severe cases, the condition may be referred to as a deep bite. In this scenario, the lower front teeth may actually touch the gum tissue behind the upper teeth when in a closed position.

If an overbite is present, it usually indicates other orthodontic issues, as well. For example, the jaw may be too small to appropriately accommodate the teeth. When this occurs, the teeth are forced into unnatural positions. If left untreated, an overbite can cause a host of oral health issues, including gum disease and tooth decay.

Understanding Overjets

In contrast to an overbite, an overjet refers to the horizontal relationship between the upper and lower teeth, rather than the vertical. Also referred to as protruding or buck teeth, an overjet is characterized by upper teeth that stick out. In some cases, the teeth may even protrude out over the lower lip.

When an overjet is present, it is usually an indicator that the upper jaw is either overdeveloped or larger than the lower jaw. Or, it may be the result of certain habits, such as prolonged pacifier and bottle use or tongue thrusting. Left untreated, an overjet can leave the front teeth susceptible to injury or breakage.

Treating an Overbite or Overjet

While an overbite is notably different from an overjet, these two conditions are frequently treated in a similar fashion. Orthodontic treatment is the most common solution for these types of malocclusion.

At our practice, we offer Invisalign® for patients who wish to avoid traditional metal braces. However, in some cases, conventional orthodontic treatment may be necessary.

If your condition is skeletal in nature, your doctor may recommend corrective jaw surgery. This treatment is used to address complex or severe cases of malocclusion and is typically performed in conjunction with braces.

The Importance of Correcting Malocclusion

No matter what type of malocclusion you have, it is important to correct the issue as soon as possible. In addition to detracting from your appearance, misalignment can take a toll on the function and health of your smile. When all elements of your smile are working properly, you give yourself the best chance for optimal, long-term oral health.

Contact Us for More Information

If you are considering cosmetic or orthodontic treatments to enhance your smile, schedule a consultation at Brooklyn Heights Dental to explore your options. You can call our office at (718) 857-6639 or contact us online anytime.

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