The words overbite and overjet are commonly used to describe the same condition, but these terms actually refer to two completely different issues. Our Delta dentists explain the difference and how we may be able to correct either issue with clear aligners.
What are overbites and overjets?
The two of the most common orthodontic issues that our Delta dental team sees are overbites and overjets. While many people may use either of the terms to describe either condition they are actually two entirely different conditions.
An overbite can also be referred to as a deep bite and happens when one-third of the lower incisors are covered by the upper front teeth while your jaw is in a closed position. The vertical nature of this issue distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal.
An overjet is actually most commonly referred to as buck teeth and occurs 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.
Overbites are vertical, while overjets are horizontal and cause the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. The teeth remain downward or straight without an angle for an overbite.
What are the most common causes of an overbite and overjet?
Typically, when a patient is experiencing an overbite their lower jaw will be 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 are most commonly seen in those who were allowed to suck on objects excessively as a child, such as those who sucked their thumb. Biting the nails or chewing on objects such as erasers or pens can also cause this issue.
Similar to overbites, childhood habits such as finger or thumb sucking can cause overjet if they persist when adult teeth begin to emerge. Another common cause is that the lower jawbone (mandible) fails to keep up with the development of the forward growth of the upper jawbone (maxillary). This disparity in growth results in the bottom jawbone (and consequently the teeth), ending up situated behind where they should be for an ideal smile.
Genetic factors can also cause overbite or overjet.
What are the possible dental problems associated with an overbite or overjet?
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.
With an overjet, your risk of damaging your teeth or fracturing them increases. Some overjets are barely noticeable as they are moderate, while others are more severe and can make it difficult to close your lips completely due to the poor alignment of teeth. You may experience various issues when it comes to biting or chewing.
Are clear aligners able to treat an overbite or overjet?
While clear aligners are a good option for those with these issues, they are not typically recommended as treatment 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 the overjet or overbite is caused by one of the issues listed above, we may be able to treat the problem with clear aligners. The aligners will apply gradual pressure to your teeth to move them into corrected positions as prescribed by your dentist in a custom treatment plan. This will leave you with a straighter, more symmetrical smile.
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.