In Dentistry, What Is an Overjet?

An overjet is also called an overbite when the upper teeth are too far in front of the lower teeth.
Some orthodontists begin overjet treatment before the permanent teeth come in.
Overjets are frequently corrected with braces.
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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Overjet, also called protrusion or overbite, occurs when the upper teeth are located too far in front of the lower row of teeth. It can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as improper teeth alignment, bone deformities, and even poor oral habits. Some dentist and orthodontist may advise their patients to consider correcting overjet. It can usually be corrected through modifications to the bone or through orthodontic hardware, such as braces or a headgear.

There are several different causes of overjet. For example, the molars may be aligned improperly or the upper incisors may be flared. Sometimes there is a problem with the jaw bone itself, such as an upper jaw that is overdeveloped or a lower jaw that is underdeveloped. People, particularly children, with poor oral habits are also susceptible to overjet. For example, children who suck their thumbs, thrust their tongues, or suck on solid objects, such as a plastic toy, may also have an increased likelihood of having their top teeth protrude significantly over their bottom teeth.

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Patients and their dentists and orthodontists may have many reasons why they want to correct overjet. For example, many patients want to improve their appearance. A poor appearance may harm some individuals on a psychological level, lowering their self-esteem and making them prone to teasing. From a dental perspective, the condition may also be corrected to avoid permanent damage to the top front teeth or the face upon an injury. For example, if a person with severe overjet were to fall on her face, it could harm the teeth or even cause a fracture to the protruding jaw bone.

In many cases, overjet can be diagnosed by a dental professional by the time the patient turns seven or eight years old. A skilled orthodontist will determine when the treatment should begin, typically when all the adult teeth come in. In some cases, an orthodontist may begin treatment before the permanent teeth erupt to prevent damage to other teeth. Even if treatment begins while the baby teeth are still intact, it does not mean that treatment will not need to continue when the adult teeth erupt.

Treatment varies from person to person. Some factors that determine treatment include the severity of the condition, the cause of the condition, and the patient’s age. Treatment may include using orthodontic hardware, such as headgear, braces, palatal expanders, rubber bands, and tooth extractions. If the overjet is the result of a bone deformity, jaw surgery may be required.

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anon929836
Post 10

Unfortunately, I was and still am one of those people who is teased about my overjet. I remember being in middle school and noticing that my teeth were different from others. Girls and boys would tease me and constantly fought to keep my mouth closed, even though that gave me a weird appearance.

My mom told me that the dentist we had when I was younger told her I wouldn't need braces. I have a tongue thrusting problem. I'm 26 years old now living with this. I hate talking and then noticing people's eyes travel to my mouth and then I immediately become self conscious. I even had to learn how to smile differently (with my bottom lip almost covering the bottom of my top teeth so you can't really see the overbite/overjet)

I hate my teeth so much and my self-esteem is not all that great. I like public speaking and reading and talking to people, but I'm always wondering if they are thinking about why my teeth are like this and why didn't/don't I get them fixed. I don't have the money and I'm sure my mother didn't when I was younger. I just really can't wait to get this fixed. I don't want to die like this.

anon338617
Post 8

I have a small over-jet and overbite, due to bad child habits (sucked my thumb until I was eight years old) and I had my teeth straightened without extractions. I have all my upper and bottom teeth in place (16 teeth on my maxilla and 16 teeth on my mandible). I am 33 years old now, with no extractions, all wisdom teeth erupted and got braces. I was wondering if getting the IEP (interproximal/interdental polishing) without extractions will help me correct the overjet and overbite problem. Thank you.

anon338283
Post 7

I have an overjet problem. I'm a 20 year old girl and it is getting more and more pronounced. Now my face looks long and bad. Is it due to my teeth?

LittleMan
Post 6

@amysamp - In my opinion if the overjet was solely a cosmetic factor, I would say it is up to the individual and/or their family what they want to do or not do. Since their are other harming issues that arise from this going untreated, I would say go ahead and spend the money if you can. It seems like it would be a good investment.

If you can not afford overjet surgery, or whatever it takes to fix your overjet problem, it sounds like you should be very careful, so that you are less likely to fall.

If you are getting made fun of for having overjet, or anything else, remember that these people do not really mean it, and that in time things do get better.

I got made fun of some until college, and then people started to become nicer and less judgmental. Hang in there. Always have hope, never give up. You are beautiful inside and out. Do not stoop to a bully's level or let what they say get to you.

amysamp
Post 5

I am lucky to have grown up in a small town that still had bullies, but as far as I know, they weren't as mean as the some of the ones at other schools.

I was actually self-conscious about my teeth growing up, because my teeth have some gaps in them. Thankfully it was something people did not notice or did not care to mention, because people did not talk about my gapped teeth.

I can not imagine having a severe overjet and having to attend school. This would be something I can see some mean bullies poking fun of others' for.

If someone has the money to fix overjet, why not fix it if they want to? Especially since it can be so dangerous if someone with overjet falls on their face.

lovealot
Post 4

I know that a child's habits like thumb sucking and tongue thrust, can lead to an overbite developing later on. I don't know exactly how much research has been done on these two behaviors. I wonder if it is more likely that overjet is caused by the size of the upper and lower jaw.

If a young baby or child gets a feeling of security and relaxation from sucking his or her tongue, maybe parents ought to allow it, or use very gentle methods to minimize it.

Neither of my children ever sucked their thumbs, so I don't know how I would handle it. Their orthodontia problems had to do with the size and structure of their jaw.

BabaB
Post 3

One of my granddaughters had overjet teeth. Her parents didn't think too much of it and were planning on getting her into braces at about 11 or 12 years old.

However, when she was seven, she fell flat on her face and chipped a front tooth. The dentist secured some synthetic material to the rest of the tooth that was chipped. Then about six months later, she fell smack on her face again and the synthetic part chipped.

After another trip to the dentist, he suggested it would be best to put her in braces and correct the overbite so if she fell again, it would be unlikely that she would chip her teeth again.

All went well and she is out of braces, but needs to wear retainers to keep the teeth from shifting back.

Monika
Post 2

@JessicaLynn - That's terrible. Kids can be so cruel! I hope when I have children I'll be able to afford to get their teeth fixed if they need it.

Overjet does look pretty bad, but I never thought about the potential for injury. I think the injury potential is good enough reason to get the overjet fixed even if you don't care about the way it looks!

JessicaLynn
Post 1

When I was in high school I had a classmate with severe overjet. Unfortunately, her overjet teeth gave her a fairly "horsey" appearance. Her front teeth protruded so far she could barely close her lips over her teeth. So, she got teased a lot!

Looking back, I feel extra bad for her because I imagine that her family probably couldn't afford to get orthodontic work done for her. If they could, I'm sure they would have! I had a few things wrong with my teeth when I was younger, but I was lucky my parents could afford braces.

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