Malocclusion, Overjets, and Overbites: an Overview

Generally speaking, malocclusion is the misalignment of an individual’s teeth. There are two primary types of malocclusion, though both tend to be called an “overbite” by laypeople. Medically speaking, however, only one of these is truly considered an overbite, while the other is known as an overjet. Both can create a visible deformation in the jawline and extreme cases could be considered embarrassing or unsightly by patients. Moreover, both conditions have been linked to a higher risk of other dental ailments. Fortunately, both are treatable; especially if the conditions can be identified at a young age.

What is an overbite?

An individual is usually considered to have an overbite when the front upper teeth excessively overlap the front lower teeth. However, the term “overbite” only truly applies when measuring the distance between the front and lower teeth vertically. In extreme cases, an overbite can actually allow the individual’s lower teeth to make contact with an individual’s upper gums, behind their upper teeth. This can cause the jawline to sit unnaturally, leading to other ailments.

What is an overjet?

Whereas an overbite is marked by an excessive vertical distance between the front upper and lower teeth, an overjet has a greater horizontal difference between the two sets. This condition is often referred to as “buck teeth.” Overjets have been known to be so significant that individuals are unable to comfortably and completely close their mouths without their teeth being in the way. This condition is known to increase the risk of causing dental injuries, as the lower jaw is likely to be resting in an unsafe position.

Overjet and Overbite Treatment

Both conditions can be treated, but overjet treatment is generally considered to be more difficult to do. However, an overjet correction is still well within the realm of normal dental practice. The best method for fixing an overjet is to prevent it from occurring in adulthood. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children as young as 7 years old should be taken to an orthodontist to be evaluated for the condition in hopes of addressing it early, before adult teeth arrive. However, even if the condition eludes notice or treatment until a patient is an adult, interventions can still be successful, so older patients should not be discouraged from seeking help. While younger patients do have more malleable teeth, older patients can still obtain effective treatment.
Treatment for either form of malocclusion in adulthood typically requires a combination of surgery, including tooth extraction, and dental devices, such as braces for an overjet. As with any treatment, the extent of treatment options depends mostly on the extent of the patient’s condition, and perhaps to a lesser extent, on their age.

Getting Started

Those seeking more information on either form of malocclusion, whether it is an overbite or overjet, are encouraged to view our contact page. Alternatively, Dr. Bostani’s Advanced Dental can be reached at 818-973-7100.