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

Have you heard that the terms overbite and overjet are often used interchangeably, even though they are different from each other? Our dentists in Orléans explain the difference between them and how we can use clear aligners to fix either problem.

What are overbites and overjets?

Overbites and overjets are common orthodontic problems, but they are not the same thing. People often use these terms interchangeably, but they actually refer to two separate conditions.

Overbite

An overbite, also known as a deep bite, occurs when your upper front teeth cover one-third of your lower incisors while your jaw is closed. It is different from an overjet, which is when your top teeth stick out horizontally.

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.

Overbites are vertical, while overjets are horizontal and cause the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. But with an overbite, the teeth remain downward or straight (not on an angle).

How are overbite and overjet caused?

An overbite occurs when the lower teeth are positioned behind the upper teeth, resulting in more gum showing on the upper teeth and the upper front teeth appearing lower than the teeth beside them.  This can be caused by a smaller lower jaw, teeth wear, thumb-sucking, nail-biting, or chewing on objects.

Similarly, an overjet can occur due to childhood habits, such as finger or thumb sucking, or when the lower jawbone fails to keep up with the forward growth of the upper jawbone. Genetic factors can also play a role in causing 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.

With an overjet, your risk for 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 poor alignment of teeth. You may also notice challenges with chewing or biting.

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 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.

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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