Overbite and Overjet. 2 of the most common orthodontic concerns I see everyday. Overbite is the vertical, or top-to-bottom, overlap of the front teeth while biting. Overjet is the horizontal, or front-to-back overlap of the front teeth while biting. These two terms are often confused in laymen’s talk. It is commonly said that when somebody has “buck teeth” or that their front teeth stick out too far, that they have overbite. Now you know that what they really mean is that they have overjet. Of course, they may have overbite as well, but now you know the difference!


Overjet is caused most commonly by the lower teeth and/or lower jaw not keeping pace with the forward growth of the upper jaw, resulting in lower teeth and the lower jaw being slightly behind where it should be for a perfect bite. We also call this a Class II malocclusion in orthodontic terms. Class II maloccusions are very common. It is estimated by some studies that more than 25% of the population has a Class II bite.


Class II bites have esthetic, psychosocial, and other health-related implications. The most obvious advantage to correcting a Class II bite is the improvement in the esthetics of the smile. It goes without saying that front teeth that are not protruding forward look better. It’s interesting that studies have shown that children with excessive overjet and Class II bites have a greater tendency for low self-esteem and are teased at school more than their peers with normal overjet or Class I bites. Also, studies have shown that teachers and other adult leaders, such as coaches and academic advisors, perceive children with large overjets as being less likely to have strong leadership skills and other life skills that are considered important for thriving in today’s society. Lastly, studies have shown that larger-than-average overjet can lead to a greater risk of trauma to the upper front teeth. This makes sense since the upper front teeth are sticking out farther than they should so that if a child falls on their face, their upper front teeth would be susceptible to injury. An additional oral health concern related to excessive overjet and overbite is that when biting, the lower front teeth can damage the gum tissue of the palate right behind the upper front teeth.


The orthodontic method used to correct excessive overjet depends on the age of the patient and severity of the problem. Braces and elastic bands that pull the bottom front teeth forward and the top front teeth back are commonly used. If the overjet is more extreme, sometimes 2 premolar teeth need to be extracted so that the upper front teeth can be orthodontically moved back out of a protrusive forward position.


Excessive overjet and Class II bites are orthodontic problems I see every day in my practice. These cases are some of my favorites. Not just because of the dramatic change in the smile esthetics, but most importantly because I am able to see these patients grow in self-esteem and confidence when they are finally able to get the smile and bite they’ve wanted for so long!


Patient age at start of treatment: 11
Treatment duration: 26 Months
Treatment method to correct overjet/overbite: Premolar Extractions

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Patient age at start of treatment: 10
Treatment duration: 26 Months
Treatment method to correct overjet/overbite: Elastics

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Patient age at start of treatment: 15

Treatment duration: 19 Months
Treatment method to correct overjet/overbite: Premolar Extractions

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