The terms overbite and overjet are often used interchangeably—but they are two distinct orthodontic conditions. Here, our Belleville dentists explain the difference and how we may be able to correct either issue with Invisalign clear aligners.
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.
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. With an overbite, the teeth remain verticle (meaning they point straight down). The vertical nature of this issue distinguishes it from an overjet, which is horizontal.
Commonly called “buck teeth” an overjet is when the upper front teeth protrude diagonally at an angle over the bottom teeth. 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 millimeters will cause issues.
How are overbite and overjet caused?
The most common cause for overbite is a lower jaw that 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 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 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.
An overjet causes an increased risk of damaging or fracturing your teeth. 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 also notice challenges with chewing or biting.
Can an overbite or overjet be treated with clear aligners?
In many situations, including the ones listed above, we may be able to treat an overbite or overjet with Invisalign 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.
If suitable for your smile, Invisalign treatment 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 gums 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.
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.