What Is the Difference between an Overbite and an Overjet?

by | Nov 29, 2021 | General Orthodontics, Orthodontic Treatments | 0 comments

6 min reading time

An overjet is a fairly common dental condition, but the term “overjet” is not. People often believe it is an overbite, but the two are not the same. Overjets have their own set of symptoms, consequences, and treatments.  When left uncorrected, overjet teeth can create problems that get worse with time. 

Let’s take a look at what an overjet (vs. overbite) is and what it does. The wide array of available treatments means that there are solutions for everyone. 


What Is an Overjet?

An overjet bite is a form of malocclusion or bad bite. The upper and lower sets of teeth do not align properly. The top front, overjet teeth protrude outward at an angle, hovering over the bottom teeth. 

When your teeth are aligned, the top row naturally sits in front by about two millimeters. This is because the top teeth slightly overlap the bottom teeth. When that gap between top and bottom is more significant, three or four millimeters, for example, you have an overjet.


Overjet Problems

An overjet can create numerous medical issues. For example, it can interfere with biting and chewing and can even be painful. Also, it can add stress to other teeth and damage their enamel. The protruding teeth can easily be damaged. In addition, an overjet can lead to TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), gum and tooth decay, and sleep problems.  

Overjets can also have an emotional impact. An overjet is visible and can make you feel self-conscious. You may hesitate to show your overjet smile or even shy away from interacting with other people. 


Underlying Overjet: What Are the Main Causes? 

Overjet has several possible causes. It can, for example, run in the family. If the previous generation had it, you might, too. Your jaw might be too small, making teeth grow crowded or crooked, or your jaw is too large, giving teeth license to move where they shouldn’t. 

If, as a child, you sucked your thumb, fingers, or a pacifier for an extended period, you may have developed an overjet. Another cause is called “tongue thrust.” Here, the tongue excessively pushes against the back of the teeth. 


Overjet vs. Overbite: What’s the Difference?

“Overbite” is probably the more familiar term of the two. You’ve probably seen people with overjets and thought they had overbites. It’s true: there are both similarities and differences between the two medical conditions. But first, let’s look at what they have in common. 


Overjet vs. Overbite: Similarities

Overjets and overbites are both types of malocclusion, or bad bite, where upper and lower teeth are not aligned. With normal teeth, each upper tooth aligns with its corresponding lower tooth, allowing the force of chewing to be distributed throughout your mouth. When they’re not aligned, there is more pressure and wear on your teeth. 

Malocclusion is a fairly common condition. About 20 percent of the world’s population develops some form of it. 

Overjet vs. Overbite: Differences

As described earlier, when you have an overjet, your top teeth protrude out at an angle over your bottom teeth. With an overbite, the top teeth do not stick out. Instead, they overlap the bottom teeth too much, covering more than 25 percent of the bottom teeth. For some people, this “deep bite” or “closed bite” may make it difficult to pronounce the “s” and “sh” sounds. 

Undergoing Treatment: Correcting an Overjet

The best way to treat overjet depends on how severe it is and any other circumstances that may accompany the condition. There are several options your orthodontist can use and combine for the best outcome. 

In any case, it’s imperative to have your overjet treated as soon as possible. It will get worse as you age. Also, treatment is easier for younger people, as their teeth are still growing. 


Removal of Teeth

Sometimes overjet is a result of overcrowded teeth. Your doctor may decide to remove one or more teeth to create more space for the remaining teeth. For children, removing some baby teeth gives permanent teeth room to grow in. This may be done in conjunction with braces or other options. Reducing the overcrowding puts the jaw into a more normal position, giving braces or other appliances a better chance to work. 


Braces are an effective way to correct your overjet. To prepare, your orthodontist studies your personal medical history and overjet, then creates a mockup of your braces. Next, they place brackets on your teeth and insert wires and rubber bands. Once completed, the braces gradually pull your teeth into properly aligned positions and eliminate the protruded “buck teeth” look. 

You will wear braces anywhere from 18 months to two years, then you wear a retainer for an additional two to three years to make sure your teeth stay in their new positions. 


A step up from metal braces, Invisalign® uses clear plastic aligners instead of brackets and wires to pull your teeth into healthier positions. Compared to traditional braces, these aligners are more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. In addition, they are removable for easier eating and cleaning. 

Treatment can last from several months to two years. As with braces, you need to wear a retainer for a while after the initial treatment is done. 

Cosmetic Solutions: Veneers, Crowns, and Bonding

Veneers, crowns, and bonding are options designed to look like your natural teeth. The protruding teeth appear closer to normal and the misalignment is hidden. All of these options can last for several years.


For severe conditions, orthognathic (jaw) surgery may be needed. Here, the jaws’ length and position are manipulated to realign the maxillary and mandibular bones. The doctor may use wires, plates, or screws to help reshape the jaws. Complete healing can take up to two years, and you will need to wear retainers.

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Understanding Overjets

An overjet can be an annoyance or a real problem negatively affecting your health. Fortunately, several effective treatment options address any level of severity. While results don’t happen overnight, the result is a smile you don’t feel compelled to hide and a healthier mouth.

Do you have questions about overjets? Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation! Loudoun Orthodontics is here to provide answers and help you through the process. We will be delighted to help you. In the meantime, make sure to check out our blog for more information on orthodontic treatments!