Overjet vs Overbite: What’s The Difference?

4 min read

Patients often seek aligners as a solution for crooked teeth. However, there are instances where our dental problems come from our bites or the way the upper and lower teeth line up. Two common types of poor bites are overjet and overbite. These two orthodontic conditions can be severe but are highly treatable, and understanding these conditions will help you determine the best plan for you to get a confident and straight smile. These terms are often interchangeably used, but they’re not the same! They have clear differences between them. Here are the distinct differences between the two conditions.

What Causes Overjet and Overbite?

Overjet and overbite are both types of “malocclusions,” which is the Latin term for “bad bite” and the word orthodontists use to describe teeth that do not fit together correctly. Overjets can be hereditary, so if your mother or father has one, you might develop one, too. This might occur if you have an underdeveloped lower jawbone that causes your upper teeth to protrude further than they should. Other causes for these two types of malocclusions can be due to the jaw’s size or shape, typically if the jaw is smaller or larger than normal. If a jaw is too small, teeth can grow misaligned, and if a jaw is too large, teeth can drift or move around. They can also be due to tooth loss, thumb sucking, or the use of dummies as a baby.

What does an overjet look like?

An overjet is when the upper teeth protrude outward and sit over the bottom teeth. Having an overjet doesn’t only affect your appearance. You can have also difficulty chewing, drinking, and biting. It may even cause jaw pain.

Some overjets are mild and barely noticeable, while others are more severe. Along with difficulty biting or chewing, poor alignment of your teeth can make it difficult to close your lips completely. You could also develop speech problems, or frequently bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek.

Keep in mind, though, it is normal for your upper front teeth to rest slightly in front of your lower teeth when closing your mouth, usually about 2 millimetres (mm) apart. But if you have an overjet, your upper front teeth may extend in front of your lower teeth by more than 2mm.

What does an overbite look like?

An overbite is a vertical issue when compared to an overjet which is a horizontal one. In an overbite, a dentist will be looking at the relationship between your upper front teeth and lower front teeth.

If an overbite is severe, the lower teeth can bite into the gums behind the upper front teeth when the mouth is closed. In some cases the lower teeth are hardly visible when you bite down.

What’s the difference between an overjet and an overbite?

Some people use the terms overjet and overbite interchangeably. But while both conditions are similar, they’re not the same. In both cases, your upper teeth will protrude over or in front of your bottom teeth. But with an overjet, the upper teeth protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle. With an overbite, there isn’t an angle; although the upper teeth protrude past the bottom teeth, the teeth remain straight or downward.

Treatment Options for overjet and overbite

If you suffer from overjet or overbite don’t worry – there are ways to get your teeth back into proper alignment. Treatment typically involves the use of orthodontic devices, surgery, or a combination of both. While the methods and appliances used to correct both issues are similar, your dental professional will tailor your treatment plan to your needs.

Here are a few common methods orthodontists use to treat overjet and overbite:

  • Teeth removal: Because overcrowding is a cause of teeth protrusion at an early age, your oral care provider may remove your child’s baby teeth to make room for permanent teeth.
  • Growth modification therapy: According to HealthLink BC, growth modification is part of a two-part orthodontic treatment plan for children with poor bites. When children are going through growth spurts, their orthodontist may fit them with growth modification gear, or appliances, depending on their needs, such as headgear, a Herbst, or a Bionator.
  • Braces/aligners: Braces move the teeth to correct misaligned teeth and bites. They can also help move the jaw into the proper position.
  • Surgery: While braces or aligners are ideal, patients sometimes have to turn to surgery to correct these conditions. That might involve reshaping the jaw to be longer or shorter. Your dental surgeon may also use screws, plates, or wires to stabilize the jawbone.

Talk to Toothfairy

If you’re feeling self-conscious about your smile, book a free video consultation with Toothfairy™ and start your teeth aligning transformation today. Find out more here: https://www.toothfairyapp.co.uk/

Last updated on February 7, 2024

Dr. Deepak Aulak

Dr. Deepak Aulak is a London-based dental practitioner with a special interest in cosmetic dentistry. Having graduated from King's College London in Dentistry, Dr. Aulak was decorated with over a dozen awards and scholarships along the way, which notably include the Jelf Medal, Malleson Prize for research and GKT Hospital's Full Shields.


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