Even though the terms overjet and overbite are used interchangeably, they are different conditions. In this post, our Halifax dentists explain how overbites and overjets are different, and how clear aligners might be able to treat them.
Overbites & Overjets Explained
Overbites and overjets are two of the most common orthodontic issues. While the terms are frequently used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these two conditions.
An overbite could also be called a deep bite and it develops 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.
Often 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 can cause problems.
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).
The Causes of Overbites & Overjets
The most common cause of overbites is when the lower jaw is a bit smaller than the upper jaw, making the lower teeth rest behind the upper teeth and moving them 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. Nail-biting 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 when 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 overbites or overjets.
Dental Issues Caused By Overjets & Overbites
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 poor teeth alignment. You may also notice challenges with chewing or biting.
Treating Overbites & Overjets 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 could 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.