If you have a bite issue as an adult, then you’re in good company. Whether it’s an overbite, an underbite, overjet, or another issue, bite issues happen often.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you should know about overjet, including its common causes and the best treatment options for adults.
What is Overjet?
First, let’s establish what overjet isn’t: it’s not overbite. They are two separate conditions, but they get confused a lot. Let’s clear up that confusion.
In an “ideal” smile, the top teeth point straight down, and the bottom teeth point straight up. The two rows line up neatly. However, overjet occurs when the top row (or “arch”) of teeth angle forwards instead of pointing straight down. In an overbite, the top teeth point straight down, but they don’t line up with the bottom row. In a nutshell, overbite is a vertical misalignment. Overjet is a horizontal one.
Because the front teeth point outwards in an overjet, the bottom teeth don’t strike where they’re supposed to. And that can cause problems. Few professionals agree on what makes an overjet “severe,” but generally, an overjet of 1-3 millimeters falls within the range of a normal bite.
Overjet occurs for a variety of reasons depending on the person. The most common cause is just plain genetics; your genes play a big role in how your teeth and jaw are shaped. But childhood habits like using a pacifier, pushing the tongue on the teeth, or sucking a thumb can force the teeth out of alignment.
In addition, overcrowded teeth can cause overjet. When the adult teeth come in, they need ample space. And if they don’t have the room they need to grow correctly, they may angle forward instead.
How Do I Know If I Have an Overjet?
Overjet isn’t the easiest thing to self-diagnose, especially since it’s easily confused with overbite. In fact, overbite and overjet often occur simultaneously. You can probably tell if you have a bite issue simply by looking in a mirror while biting down on your back molars. If your top teeth are closer to your lips than your bottom ones, then you have some kind of overbite or overjet. It’s tough to know for yourself, though.
Your dentist will be able to tell you whether your bite issue is overjet, overbite, or some combination of both. We recommend consulting with your dentist to know for sure.
Do I Need to Correct My Overjet?
When an overjet is mild, it rarely causes issues. A lot of people go their whole lives without even realizing that they have overjet. That said, the more severe an overjet is, the more likely it is to cause problems.
For one thing, when the teeth don’t line up correctly, the teeth that do line up are more susceptible to grinding. The enamel can wear down faster than normal. In addition, the teeth that protrude forward are more vulnerable. If they take a hit playing sports or in an accident, they’re more likely to crack. In severe cases, overjet can also cause jaw pain, soreness, headaches, and speech disorders. These issues are uncommon, but when they do surface, they typically require treatment.
Mild cases of overjet rarely cause medical issues; it’s usually more cosmetic. Most people with minor cases don’t have to correct their overjet unless they want to improve the aesthetics of their smile.
Treating Adult Overjet From Home
Invisalign was the first company to introduce clear aligners, but they didn’t have a monopoly for long. Several other companies created their own clear aligner trays. At first, these Invisalign competitors were only available through a dentist or an orthodontist. But by 2014, companies like Smile Direct Club cut out the middleman and provided home-based clear aligners directly to the consumer.
If you choose to use home teeth aligners to correct your overjet, here’s what you can expect. Instead of having an initial consultation with your orthodontist, you’ll order an impression kit and create 3D molds of your teeth. The home teeth aligner company you choose uses those molds to confirm that you’re a candidate for treatment. And if you are, they’ll create a set of custom aligners for you. By wearing each aligner for the prescribed amount of time, you’ll be able to gradually shift your teeth into their new positions.
That’s the same principle as Invisalign, really. But there are a few differences to note. For one thing, at-home teeth aligners can only treat minor-to-moderate cosmetic cases. They can’t add on elastics and attachments like Invisalign does. So if your overjet is severe, then home teeth aligners can’t correct it.
Most at-home aligner providers are focused on moving the front six upper and lower teeth (otherwise known as “the social six”). The exception to this is Candid, which is the only at-home aligner provider able to move your molars. This allows them to treat slightly more complex cases than their competitors, though still limited when compared to in-office options.
But for those with a minor overjet, home teeth aligners are much cheaper than Invisalign. They’re typically faster, too.
Other Treatment Options: Braces, Invisalign & Surgery
The best treatment method for your overjet depends on a few key issues. For example, if your teeth protrude really far forward, it’ll take more force to bring them back in line. Plus, if your smile has both overjet and overbite, it’ll be more complicated to treat. Bite issues can also be caused by skeletal misalignments. In those cases, you’d need a more powerful treatment method.
Home aligners like Byte can correct minor cases of overjet, but when overjet is caused by skeletal issues or it’s very severe, home aligners aren’t an option. Let’s discuss some of the more powerful options you can use instead.
Braces often get a bad rap for being uncomfortable, ugly, and pricey. And technically, those are all true criticisms. The wires and brackets used in braces can cut into your cheeks and gums (especially when they’re first installed). And braces typically cost around $5,000.
But despite those downsides, braces are still around today for a good reason. They’re the most universally-accepted method to straighten your teeth. And when it comes to correcting your overjet, braces will be able to handle your case—even if your overjet is caused by your bone structure.
As a whole, braces allow for more nuanced movements thanks to metal appliances and elastics. Over the course of your treatment (which usually lasts between 1.5-2 years), your orthodontist can gradually move both your teeth and your jaw into perfect alignment.
Invisalign first entered the teeth alignment scene just before 2000. And when they did, they really shook things up by correcting two of the biggest complaints about braces: ugliness and discomfort. Instead of using wires and brackets, Invisalign uses clear trays molded to your teeth. The trays are nearly invisible, and there’s no metal in your mouth to cut up your cheeks.
That said, you will still experience some discomfort while wearing your Invisalign aligners. That’s inevitable when you’re shifting your teeth from their positions. And Invisalign isn’t really any faster or cheaper than traditional braces; the average cost is also around $5,000. So if you’re looking for the fastest method to treat your bite issue, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Like braces, Invisalign can treat most overjets regardless of the cause. That’s because Invisalign uses proprietary SmartForce attachments and elastics in addition to your aligner trays. Those extras allow for the nuanced movements necessary to treat both your jaw and your teeth.
Corrective surgery is definitely the most drastic method on this list, but fortunately, for most people, it’s not necessary. Your care provider will only recommend surgery if all the other options we’ve discussed will not correct your overjet. If you go this route, your surgeon will shift your jaw into alignment by force.
Understandably, surgery is the most expensive method to correct an overjet. It will also cause you the most discomfort (especially up front). The recovery time is significant, and in many cases, you’ll need to adjust your eating habits for a while. Surgery isn’t right for everyone. But it’s certainly the most powerful method.
Which Treatment Option Is Right For You?
Overjet is a fairly common dental issue, and it rarely causes long-term problems. But if you want to perfect your grin by treating your overjet, then you’re in good company.
Everyone’s smile is unique, including all the charms and imperfections. And a unique smile needs a unique treatment. What works to treat one person won’t necessarily be right for you. But if you decide to treat your overjet, odds are you’ll be able to use braces, Invisalign, or home teeth aligners to get the results you want. We hope this guide will help you make the decision that’s right for you!