An overjet is the overlap of front teeth in the horizontal dimension. It is often called ‘overbite’ although this is not the correct term, and an orthodontist would always use the term, overjet.
An increased overjet describes an abnormal bite relationship in which the upper jaw and teeth are protruding excessively forward in front of the lower jaw and teeth. Most individuals with an increased overjet usually exhibit a convex facial profile with a recessed chin, and protruding front teeth (buck teeth).
Skeletal – An increased overjet is often associated with skeletal discrepancies in which, the lower jaw is small in relation to the upper jaw.
Dental – Excessive forward inclination of upper front teeth and/or backward inclination of lower front teeth is another common cause of an increased overjet.
Habits – Certain oral habits, eg. Thumb-sucking or prolonged use of pacifiers, are associated with development of increased overjet.
Unaesthetic appearance – Increased overjet, most commonly described as ‘buck teeth’ are unaesthetic and may result in lack of confidence.
Risk of injury – An increased overjet can prevent the upper and lower lip to meet and close comfortably. Therefore, an increased overjet is a major factor in increased susceptibility to injury of upper front teeth. Injury to upper front teeth may result in teeth fracture or, in severe cases, lost of front teeth.
Functional problems – severe increase in overjet may affect functions, such as speech and chewing. In some individuals with big overjet, the lower front teeth are biting directly on the gums behind the upper front teeth. This can lead to repeated trauma to the gums.
Treatment of increased overjet depends on severity and nature of the case, as well as age of patient. Therefore, it is important to consult a specialist orthodontist to identify the nature and cause of your concern.
The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7. Overjet is one of the few types of malocclusion that is most effectively treated when diagnosed early. We can use the growth of the lower jaw to our advantage to reduce the overjet.
In young children with increased overjet and an underlying skeletal problem, braces in combination with a bite jumping plate may be used to modify the growth of the lower jaw and reduce the degree of overjet. Another treatment option to reduce overjet involves orthodontic treatment with selective extraction of permanent teeth.
Depending on the nature of the condition, treatment options for adult patients with an increased overjet may involve orthodontic treatment only, or orthodontic treamtent in combination with orthognathic jaw surgery.
Are you suffering from this condition? See one of our specialist orthodontists for an assessment.