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Overbite vs. Overjet: What Is the Difference?

By Stephen Rogers on June 04, 2018

Young girl with braces sitting in restaurantMalocclusion refers to any bite abnormality, and there are several different types. Here, our team at Greater Long Island Dental in Long Island, NY explains the differences between overbites vs. overjets, two of the most common forms of malocclusion. Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences between them.

At Greater Long Island Dental, we offer orthodontic cosmetic dentistry treatments to help patients regain full function and confidence in their smiles.

Defining an Overbite

In short, an overbite refers to the vertical positioning of the front teeth. When closed down naturally, the upper teeth should slightly overlap approximately one-third of the lower teeth.

However, some patients have an overlap that measures much deeper. In fact, in some severe cases, the lower incisions actually touch the roof of the mouth and irritate the gum tissue behind the upper front teeth.

What Causes an Overbite?

The majority of the time, an overbite is the result of an upper jaw that is too developed or a lower jaw that is underdeveloped. Of course, genetics play a role. If an immediate family member has an overbite, there is a higher probability that you do, as well.

Treatments for Overbite

Because an overbite is skeletal in nature, the condition is often not treatable with braces alone. In many cases, corrective jaw surgery is required to address the problem.

Typically, oral surgery is followed by traditional orthodontic braces. It is important to note, however, that if an overbite is diagnosed in childhood, early orthodontic treatment may eradicate the need for surgery later in life.

Defining an Overjet

Commonly called “buck teeth”, this condition is often mistakenly referred to as an overbite. However, in contrast to an overbite that refers to a vertical issue, an overjet measures the horizontal positioning of the front teeth.

When the upper front incisors protrude or stick out, it is an overjet. Unfortunately, this type of malocclusion places individuals at a much higher risk for dental trauma and damage.

What Causes Overjet?

As with most dental conditions, the presence of an overjet could be hereditary. However, in many cases, childhood habits are to blame. These may include prolonged pacifier or bottle used, tongue-thrusting, or thumb-sucking. All of these can push the teeth forward over time.

Treatments for Overjet

Mild cases of overjet may be addressed with cosmetic procedures, such as dental bonding or porcelain veneers. However, many cases require orthodontic treatment.

At our practice, one of the most common and successful treatments for overjet is Invisalign®. Widely recognized as the “clear alternative to braces”, this system straightens your teeth gradually over time using a sequence of invisible thermoplastic trays.

Patients simply slip the trays over their teeth and wear them for approximately 22 hours every day, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss. On average, treatment with Invisalign can be completed in about 18 to 24 months.

Contact Our Practice to Learn More

If you notice that your teeth do not fit together properly when you close down, you may have a form of malocclusion. Whether you have an overbite, overjet, or another type of bite issue, it is important to have a comprehensive assessment as soon as possible.

Our team at Greater Long Island Dental is here to help you every step of the way. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or give us a call at (516) 468- 7103.

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Massapequa Office

101 New York Ave
Massapequa, NY 11758

Open Today 9:00am - 9:00pm

More Info Directions (516) 468-7103