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What is a teeth overjet and how much of an overjet is normal?

Posted in Adults, Alberta, British Columbia, General, Orthodontics, Phase 2 Treatment, Related Conditions, Teens, Tips & Advice, Treatment Process

If you have an overjet, you might wonder if it's bad for your teeth and whether it needs to be treated. Our  BC and Alberta orthodontists discuss the condition in this post, as well as orthodontic treatment options. 

What is an overjet?

If your teeth are healthy and properly aligned, your rows of teeth will line up when your mouth is closed. The top row of teeth should slightly overlap the bottom front teeth, with little space between them. 

However, in some cases the top teeth don't sit properly over their bottom counterparts. Overjet is a common treatable condition that occurs when the upper front teeth appear to be more noticeable and stick out compared to the lower front teeth. This horizontal gap exceeds the normal overjet distance of 2 millimetres. 

Often referred to as "buck teeth", a significant or excessive overjet can have the upper front teeth sitting too pronounced forward, or the lower front teeth too far back. This can result in a person being unable to completely and comfortably close their mouths without their teeth getting in the way.

What causes overjet?

While overjet may be caused by genetics or bone development in the dental roots and jaw, some are developmental, caused by the way the teeth grow. 

Overjet can also develop due to external factors, including:

  • Childhood habits such as thrusting the tongue against the teeth 
  • Prolonged use of a bottle or pacifier 
  • Thumb-sucking, which can cause the teeth to jut forward in the mouth 
  • Overcrowded teeth 
  • Late growth of adult teeth 

Is overjet bad for your teeth?

This condition is known to increase the risk of dental injuries since the lower jaw likely rests in an unsafe position, and speech problems. Like any malocclusion, these misaligned bites can negatively impact your teeth, gums and mouth, in addition to your general health. 

Specifically, overjet can cause some or all of these problems:

  • Chipped or broken teeth 
  • Tooth and gum decay due to excessive plaque buildup 
  • Difficulty chewing, biting or swallowing
  • Pain or discomfort while eating 
  • Irregular facial appearance 
  • Lisps, slurs or other speech issues 
  • Embarrassment when smiling 
  • Inability to close lips
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction 
  • Trouble sleeping 

With so many potential effects for oral and overall health, it's important to have an teeth issues such as overjet addressed promptly and thoroughly, preferably with early intervention and orthodontic treatment. 

Treatment for Overjet & Orthodontic Conditions at myORTHODONTIST

Because our oral health is closely linked to our overall health and wellbeing, treating common conditions in children, teens and adults is critical to building a solid foundation for long-term oral health - and potentially preventing long-term complications. 

When it comes to treating overjet, your orthodontist can assess your specific case and its severity, and whether there are other issues that require correction. They can also help you choose a treatment option to help straighten your smile. 

There are a few options to treat overjet, including braces and Invisalign clear aligners. The small brackets on braces are connected by a wire, which helps to safely and predictably shift the teeth into their correct positions, diminishing the distance between the top and bottom teeth to close an excessive overjet. 

Invisalign clear aligners, which are custom-made to fit your smile, may also be an option to correct overjet. Once you and your orthodontist have defined your treatment goals, your orthodontist can map out an Invisalign treatment plan with timelines. 

While braces may be needed to correct severe orthodontic issues, Invisalign may be an option for more mild cases. You'll be able to remove your aligners to eat, drink brush and floss. Every 7 days or so, you'll switch to your next set of aligners, and check in about every 6 weeks with our orthodontic team about your progress. 

Do you suspect you may have an overjet or other orthodontic issue? Contact our BC and Alberta orthodontists to learn more or book an assessment with our orthodontic specialists.

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