Overbite vs. Overjet: How Can You Tell the Difference - and Can Clear Aligners Help?

Did you know that although the terms "overbite" and "overjet" are frequently used interchangeably, they are not the same thing? Our Orléans dentists explain the distinctions and how clear aligners might be used to treat either problem.

What are overbites and overjets?

Overbites and overjets are two of the most common orthodontic issues. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these two conditions.

Overbite

When your upper front teeth cover one-third of your lower incisors with your jaw closed, this is referred to as an overbite and is also known as a deep bite. This problem differs from an overjet in that it is vertically oriented.

Overjet

Commonly called “buck teeth” an overjet is when the upper front teeth protrude over the bottom teeth, creating a significant horizontal overlap.

While it’s normal for upper front teeth to rest slightly in front of your lower teeth when closing your mouth, any space of more than 2 millimetres will cause issues.

In contrast to overjets, which are horizontal and cause the upper teeth to angle past the lower teeth, overbites are vertical. However, the teeth remain straight or downward when there is an overbite (not on an angle).

How are overbite and overjet caused?

The most common cause of overbite is that the lower jaw is somewhat smaller than the upper jaw, resulting in the lower teeth resting behind the upper teeth and moving downwards as wear on your teeth takes place.

More gum will tend to show on your upper teeth, and your upper front teeth sit slightly lower than the teeth beside them (upper side teeth, or canines).

Overbites can occur if a patient had a tongue thrusting habit or was permitted to suck on an object - usually a pacifier or thumb - for too long as a child. Biting the nails or chewing on objects such as erasers or pens can also cause this issue.

Similar to overbites, childhood habits like thumb- or finger-sucking can result in overjet if they continue after the eruption of adult teeth. Another frequent factor is the lower jawbone's (mandible) inability to keep up with the upper jawbone's forward growth (maxillary). The bottom jawbone (and subsequently the teeth) end up being positioned behind where they should be for an ideal smile as a result of this disparity in growth.

Genetic factors can also cause overbite or overjet.

What dental problems can overbite and overjet create?

In extreme cases of overbite, the lower teeth may touch the gum tissue behind the upper front teeth, creating wear on the teeth and gum tissue.

Your chance of breaking or harming your teeth increases if you have an overjet. While some overjets are mild and hardly noticeable, others are more severe and can make it difficult to completely close your lips because of poor dental alignment. Additionally, you might experience difficulty biting or chewing.

Can an overbite or overjet be treated with clear aligners?

If the overbite or overjet is skeletal in nature, we would not recommend clear aligners and instead suggest speaking to your dentist to explore other options, such as surgery.

However, if one of the problems mentioned above is the root of the overjet or overbite, we might be able to fix it with clear aligners. Your teeth will be gradually pushed into the proper positions by the aligners as directed by your dentist in a personalized treatment plan. Your smile will be straighter and more symmetrical as a result.

The clear aligners also move your gum at the same time, keeping proportions in check. You will need to wear your clear aligners for about 22 hours each day, removing them to brush, floss, eat and drink.

Your teeth will progressively shift with the aligners, and you’ll switch to a new set approximately every two weeks. Your custom treatment plan could involve wearing as many as 26 trays, which equates to one tray every two weeks for 12 months.

Before you start your treatment, your dentist will be able to show you a preview of how your new smile will look by the end of your treatment. Take the first step to schedule a consultation with your dentist to learn if you are a candidate for clear aligners.

Would you like to find out whether clear aligners would help fix your overbite or overjet? Contact our Orléans dentists to book a consultation today.

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