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Overjet vs. Overbite: What's the Difference?

By Miriam Dorisca
An overjet and an overbite are two different dental issues. They have similar features, but they’re not exactly the same.

A beautiful smile can work wonders on your confidence. Many people seek dental or orthodontic intervention to fix the problems that stand in the way of a great smile. Two dental conditions that may require correction are overbite and overjet. These conditions have similar characteristics, but they’re not quite the same.

What Is An Overbite?

An overbite happens when the upper front teeth excessively overlap the bottom front teeth while the back teeth are closed, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. This is also known as a vertical overbite. “Many people think that an overbite is a dental defect. However, the term overbite is a standard measurement of all people,” Charles Sutera, DMD, a cosmetic dentist, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

By measuring how far the top teeth vertically hang over the bottom teeth when you bite down, a dental professional can determine the severity of an overbite.

“[An overbite] is typically measured in millimeters. If the edges of the top and bottom front teeth line up at the same level when the patient closes their mouth—that’s 0mm overbite. If the top teeth overlap the bottom by 5mm, then there is 5mm overbite. It is good to have some overbite to allow a tearing motion when chewing, such as when biting into a piece of pizza or into an apple. Therefore, [an] ideal overbite is generally in the range of 2-4mm,” Sutera says. 

What Is An Overjet In Teeth?

With overjet teeth, the top teeth do not only hang over the bottom teeth like a typical overbite: the front teeth also protrude outward in a horizontal direction. This is different from an overbite, which typically creates protrusion in a vertical direction.

Some overjet teeth are hardly noticeable, but more significant cases can change the look or shape of your face. Since the teeth are out of alignment, the front teeth stick out, which may also make it difficult for your lips to close. Living with overjet teeth can cause people to lose their confidence and thereby lead to social isolation. 

Overjet teeth can occur for numerous reasons, including genetics. Overjet teeth can also develop in association with sucking your thumb or using a pacifier for a lengthy amount of time as a child. Additionally, overbite and overjet teeth can lead to more dental issues such as crooked teeth or a misaligned bite. 

However, there are several established treatment options available for an overbite and an overjet that include:

The severity of your case, as well as a number of other factors, will determine the best treatment options for you.

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