Overbite vs. Overjet: How Can You Tell the Difference - and Can Clear Aligners Help?

Overbite vs. Overjet: How Can You Tell the Difference - and Can Clear Aligners Help?

While the terms overjet and overbite are often used interchangeably, they are actually distinct from one another. Dr. Cheba is here to explain the difference and how he can correct both issues using clear aligners.  

What are overbites and overjets?

Overjets and overbites are two incredibly common orthodontic issues. Although these terms are often used interchangeably to one another, there are important distinctions between them.


Overbite can also be referred to as a "deep bite," and describes when a third of a person's lower incisors are covered by their upper front teeth if their jaw is closed. This issue is vertical while overjet is horizontal.


Often called "buckteeth," overjet describes when the upper front teeth protrudes over someone's bottom teeth, causing a significant overlap horizontally. 

It is normal for upper front teeth to rest slightly in front of your bottom teeth, but a space of more than 2 millimeters may cause issues.

Unlike overbites, overjets cause the upper teeth to protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle instead of pointing straight down.

How are overbite and overjet caused?

Overbites are most commonly caused by a person's lower jaw being a bit smaller than their upper jaw. This means the lower teeth rest behind the upper teen and move down as your teeth wear.

More gum will show on the upper teeth than the lower and the front teeth sit a bit lower than the teeth beside them. 

Overbites can be caused by a thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting habit as a young child. Biting nails or chewing erasers can also contribute to an overbite. 

Childhood habits like thumb-sucking can also contribute to an overjet if they persist when adult teeth begin to emerge. It can also be caused by a failure of the lower jaw to keep up with the development of the upper jawbone, The disparity in growth can result in the lower jawbone and teeth sitting behind where they should be for an ideal smile.

Overbite and overjet can also be caused by various genetic factors.

What dental problems can overbite and overjet create?

In extreme overbite cases, the lower teeth may consistently make contact with the gums behind the upper teeth. This can cause wear of the upper gums and teeth.

In the case of overjet, there is an increased risk of breaking or fracturing teeth. Some overjets may be barely noticeable while others are more severe and create difficulties in closing lips. They may also create difficulties chewing or biting.

Can an overbite or overjet be treated with clear aligners?

If the overjet or overbite are skeletal, Dr. Cheba would likely recommend exploring options besides clear aligners such as surgery to rectify these problems.

But if the overbite or overjet are cause by other issues, the problem may be treatable with clear aligners. Clear aligners apply gradual pressure to teeth in order to move them into their correct positions. This will result in a straighter and more symmetrical smile.

Clear aligners also move gums at the same time as the teeth, keeping everything proportional. Clear aligners must be worn for 22 hours a day, only removing them to brush, floss, eat and drink.

Clear aligner sets will need to be switched about every 2 weeks as teeth move and shift. A given treatment plan can involves as many as 26 sets of trays!

Before starting your treatment, Dr. Cheba will show you a preview of how your new smile will look by the end of the treatment. 

Would you like to find out whether clear aligners would help fix your overbite or overjet? Dr. Cheba will be more than happy to help you find out if clear aligners are right for you.

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