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Overbite vs. Overjet: How Are They Different?

By Dr. David Wyse on June 29, 2018

Invisalign® Teen tray with company logoMalocclusion refers to any condition in which the teeth do not fit together properly. Two of the most common types of malocclusion are overjet and overbite, both of which can detract from the beauty of a smile.

More significantly, however, malocclusion can lead to more serious oral health issues. When the teeth are not in proper alignment, it can cause a domino-effect of problems.

Today, our team at Chrisman & Wyse in Bloomington, IN explore overbite vs overjet and discuss how Invisalign® and traditional orthodontics can address malocclusion issues and improve long-term oral health.

What Is an Overjet?

The terms “overjet” and “overbite” are often used interchangeably. However, there are a few distinct variances between the two conditions. In fact, an overjet, commonly referred to as buck teeth, refers to the horizontal relationship of the upper front teeth and the lower front teeth. This condition is characterized by upper incisors that protrude or stick out far over the lower teeth.

A normal overlap of the upper front teeth measures between two and four millimeters. This is referred to as a Class I overjet. A patient who has protruding front teeth has a Class II overjet. This condition is defined as an overjet measuring more than four millimeters. Some cases can be slight, around five or six millimeters, while other can be severe, measuring 10 millimeters or more.

Although overjet can be a genetic condition, most cases are caused by early childhood habits. For instance, children with tongue thrust have a higher risk of developing an overjet, as do children who suck their thumbs or use a bottle or pacifier for prolonged periods of time. These behaviors can cause the upper front teeth to splay out over time, making them more vulnerable to trauma and damage.

Treatments for Overjet

Most cases of overjet can be corrected conservatively through orthodontics. This type of treatment may include:

  • Traditional metal braces: The most common type of orthodontic treatment, braces, have been around for decades. Traditional braces use metal brackets, wires, and bands to gently move the teeth into their desired positions over time.
  • Invisalign®: A popular alternative to metal braces, Invisalign uses clear aligner trays to move the teeth. Because these trays are clear and removable, most people will not be able to tell you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.

What Is an Overbite?

While an overjet measures the horizontal relationship between the upper front teeth and the lower front teeth, an overbite refers to the vertical overlap.

In general, a normal overbite measures approximately two to three millimeters. This means that the upper teeth cover about one-third of the lower incisors when in a closed position.

A patient with a vertical overbite has a “deep bite”, meaning the upper teeth cover over a third of the lower teeth. In fact, some cases are so severe that the lower teeth touch the roof of the mouth when the bite is closed.

Most cases of overbite are skeletal in nature, meaning the upper jaw is either too large or the lower jaw is too small. These conditions are usually present at birth, therefore indicating a significant genetic factor.

Treatments for Overbite

If detected at a young age, early orthodontics can be used to correct an overbite. However, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary in some cases, especially if jaw growth has stopped. Depending on the complexity of your case, your overbite may be corrected with:

  • Braces
  • Invisalign
  • Headgear or other orthodontic appliances
  • Corrective jaw surgery

Contact Chrisman & Wyse to Learn More

If you have an overbite, overjet, or any other type of malocclusion, schedule a consultation at our practice. Contact us online or call us at (309) 663-6393.

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I love my "new teeth." I feel so much better about my smile. The staff at Dr. Chrisman's office was very friendly and professional. I would recommend them to anyone looking for excellent dental care. Jennifer B

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Bloomington Office

207 S Prospect Rd
Ste 2
Bloomington, IL 61704

More Info Directions (309) 663-6393

Bloomington Office

207 S Prospect Rd
Ste 2
Bloomington, IL 61704

More Info Directions (309) 663-6393