What is an overbite and what is an overjet? What is the difference?

- February 1, 2024

We get asked this question often when patients coming in for a consult ask is what is an underbite or an overbite. Let’s chat about overbite first.

An overbite, also known as a deep bite, is a dental condition where the upper front teeth overlap significantly with the lower front teeth when the jaws are closed. In an ideal bite, the upper front teeth should slightly (about 10%) overlap the lower front teeth. However, in cases of an overbite, the overlap is excessive.

An overbite can be caused by various factors, including genetics, thumb sucking, prolonged pacifier use, or improper jaw development. It can also be influenced by habits such as tongue thrusting or prolonged bottle feeding.

Having a mild overbite is common and may not require treatment. However, a severe overbite can lead to dental issues, including:

  1. Excessive wear: The overlapping of the teeth can cause increased wear on the enamel, leading to tooth damage or sensitivity.
  2. Jaw and facial pain: An overbite can strain the jaw joints and muscles, leading to discomfort or pain in the jaw, face, or head.
  3. Speech difficulties: In some cases, an overbite can affect speech clarity and pronunciation.
  4. Self-esteem and appearance: A significant overbite may affect the appearance of the smile and facial profile, potentially impacting self-confidence.

Treatment for an overbite depends on its severity and underlying causes. Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, is commonly used to correct an overbite. In more severe cases, additional interventions like jaw surgery may be necessary.

Overjet, also known as "protrusion," is a dental term that refers to the horizontal distance between the upper front teeth and the lower front teeth when the jaws are closed. It is a measurement of how far the upper front teeth stick out horizontally beyond the lower front teeth. Overjet is commonly assessed as part of a dental examination or orthodontic evaluation.

A certain degree of overjet is normal and can vary among individuals. However, excessive overjet can lead to functional and aesthetic concerns. It may affect the bite, speech, and overall facial appearance. In some cases, it can increase the risk of dental trauma if the upper front teeth are more exposed and vulnerable.

Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or other corrective appliances, may be recommended to address excessive overjet. The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of the overjet and other individual factors. It is best to consult with a dental professional or orthodontist for an accurate assessment and appropriate treatment options.