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, not to mention making chewing, speaking, and eating more difficult.
Overbites have to do with the skeleton; specifically, if you happen to have an overdeveloped upper jaw or underdeveloped lower jaw. There may also be a genetic element when it comes to causation.
What is an overjet?
Essentially, an overjet is when the upper front teeth protrude outward. 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 can 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 teeth can be genetic, however, other times it is caused by some habit during childhood such as thumb-sucking, thrusting against the teeth with the tongue, or prolonged use of a pacifier or bottle, causing the teeth to jut forward in the mouth.
So what is the difference between and overjet and overbite?
The difference is essentially that while an overjet has to do with a horizontal extension of the upper front teeth away from the mouth, an overbite is when those upper front teeth extend straight down, covering more than one-third of the bottom incisors when the mouth is closed.
How can an overjet be treated?
More than one treatment option may be available depending on the severity of the condition. One popular way of treating an overjet is with Invisalign which can slowly straighten your teeth by means of clear plastic aligner trays. The aligners are worn most of the day, and every two weeks are switched out for a new set.
Other Overjet and Overbite Treatments
Both conditions can be treated, but overjet treatment is generally considered to be more difficult to perform. 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. 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.
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.
Braces are designed to slowly shift your teeth into a new, more ideal position. Traditional metal braces may be prescribed as a corrective or Invisalign may be preferable. Braces can take anywhere between 18 and 24 months to correct an overjet, depending on the severity of the condition.
An overjet can also be treated using dental veneers, which are essentially pieces of porcelain fixed to the front of your teeth which is nearly indistinguishable from your natural teeth. Veneers can last more than a decade and can hide any misaligned or damaged teeth.
Dental bonding is a means of altering the size and shape of your teeth using a composite resin. This procedure can make any protruding teeth less visible. Dental bonding can be a more cost effective means of treating an overjet than veneers, and typically don’t need to be repaired or replaced for several years since the resin is about as strong as your natural teeth.
Dental crowns are a type of prosthetic custom made for the surface of your tooth, which can make any protruding teeth to appear better aligned. Dental crowns can last for up to 15 years.