When your upper teeth protrude over your lower teeth, you probably assume that you have an overbite, and you might have decided to do something about it. But what about when your dentist informs you that you actually have an overjet?
Overbites and Overjets
There are some key similarities between an overbite and an overjet. An overbite occurs when the upper dental arch essentially overhangs the lower arch, making your upper incisors more prominent. An overjet is categorised by this overhang occurring at an angle. Genetic factors are usually to blame for an overjet, and certain behaviours (thumb sucking as a child or tongue thrusting) can aggravate the condition. Fortunately, the condition is not particularly serious.
Generally a Minor Issue
In fact, an overjet is generally so minor that many people with the condition opt not to seek treatment, with treatment often only considered to correct the cosmetic aspect of the overjet. In some cases, an overjet (specifically the angle of the upper incisors) can present some minor hurdles, creating problems with eating and speaking, as the angle of the teeth has compromised the overall functionality of your teeth as a collective unit. When considering treatment, what are the options your dentist will present to you?
Treatment generally depends on the severity of the angle. In minor cases, a dentist will only need to alter the appearance of your upper teeth, without actually correcting the angle. This can be achieved with dental veneers or dental crowns. This will only be recommended when the issue is strictly cosmetic. When the angle of your overjet has an adverse effect on your bite, a more stringent measure will be needed.
Realignment of Your Bite
This more stringent measure involves orthodontics (dental braces). The braces will exert gentle pressure on your teeth, repositioning them at the correct angle and eliminating your overjet. This process is gradual, and as with any type of orthodontic treatment, consider it as playing the long game. When there's some concern about how the new angle of your incisors will affect your other teeth, your dentist may extract two teeth (your maxillary first premolars) from your upper dental arch to create space. Their absence won't be noticed, either in your new smile or in the functionality of your teeth.
Unless an overjet is creating some physical difficulties in your life, then treatment isn't medically necessary. But even when you feel it's cosmetically necessary, the treatment itself is pleasantly uncomplicated.