Overjet or ‘Protruding’ Teeth - How to Fix

Overjet or ‘Protruding’ Teeth - How to Fix
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Overjet or ‘Protruding’ Teeth - How to FixClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. How to Fix an Overjet
  2. What Is an Overjet
  3. Overjet vs. Overbite
  4. Get the Right Dental Plan
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. References

An overjet refers to a misalignment, or malocclusion, of the teeth in which the upper teeth point outward. This creates a larger distance between the upper and lower front teeth, something that is colloquially known as buck teeth. An overjet is different from an overbite.

Several genetic and environmental factors contribute to someone having these protruding teeth, including skeletal makeup, dental issues such as spacing and crowding, soft tissue conditions such as tongue thrust, lower lip trap and incompetent lips, and personal habits such as pacifier use and digit sucking.

You can fix an overjet with orthodontics (braces or aligners), teeth extraction or corrective jaw surgery.

How to Fix an Overjet

Overjet Teeth Example

You may pursue dental treatment to correct an overjet because:

  • You do not like the way your teeth look.
  • You have trouble biting into certain foods or chewing.
  • You experience pain or tension in your teeth, gums, jaw, or head.
  • You have temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) pain.
  • You have a space of 9 millimeters or more between the top and bottom incisors.

When you and your dentist work together to create ideal alignment between your top and bottom teeth and correct your overjet, you may need:

Orthodontics

Most people are familiar with braces, but you can also benefit from clear aligners, lingual braces that are on the inside of the teeth rather than the outside, or a series of metal retainers. There are many options besides traditional metal braces that may work better for you.

Removable appliances like clear aligners are very popular options because they are discrete. Several companies offer home kits, which are delivered to your doorstep.

Tooth Extraction or Replacement
If severe crowding has caused your overjet, your dentist may need to remove some teeth to make space for the others to shift into place. In contrast, wear and tear from poorly aligned teeth may lead to tooth removal, and your dentist may replace these teeth as your overjet is being treated or just after.
Corrective Jaw Surgery

Sometimes, an overjet is worsened because the jaw is too small to properly fit the upper palate. Teeth never fit together well, and this worsens over time. Often, jaw-widening devices can be used, or surgery can be done, during adolescence, as the jaw is forming. Your dentist may recommend this in adulthood too.

This will ultimately help your teeth and tongue fit better in your mouth, which can reduce tongue thrusting and prevent your overjet from returning.

What Is an Overjet?

Many adults are unhappy with their smiles because a few teeth are crooked, or they have a gap between two of their teeth. Others may be unhappy because they have a significant overbite — when the top teeth sit well in front of the lower teeth.

These are very common complaints about tooth alignment, but many adults may also have problems with their bite alignment because of overjet or protruding teeth. This might be confused for an overbite, but there are differences in causes and appearance.

Overjet teeth typically occur in the upper teeth, and have a few different causes. This type of misalignment, or malocclusion, is very treatable. It is common for adults to be diagnosed with this type of tooth misalignment and need dental treatment to manage it.

An overjet, or protruding or buck teeth, is a common type of misalignment with your teeth that can cause problems speaking or eating.

Is an Overjet Like an Overbite?

Overjets and overbites can be easily confused if you have no dental training. Both types of misaligned bites involve front teeth protruding past the bottom teeth, and both can cause jaw misalignment, wear and tear on enamel, and gum disease.

However, teeth that are in an overjet position also protrude forward rather than down toward the bottom teeth. This is sometimes also called buck teeth. In a review of studies that included people in the U.S., India, Africa, Europe, and China, it was found that around 22 percent of children and adults have an overbite, and about 20 percent have an overjet.

When your upper and lower teeth are in proper alignment, the upper teeth will sit just beyond the lower teeth, by about 2 millimeters. When the front teeth push out past that, often at an angle, that is called an overjet. This poor alignment between the upper and lower incisors specifically is a type of Class 2 malocclusion, according to dentists.

When the top teeth do not properly align with the bottom teeth, they may not meet. This can make biting into food difficult, and you may feel embarrassed when you smile. Overjets may also cause other teeth to misalign, rotate, and shift over time.

Causes of protruding top incisors or an overjet include:

  • Thumb sucking as a child.
  • Tongue thrusting, an abnormal tongue position in which the tongue rests on the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth.
  • Teeth that are larger than the space available.
  • Genetics or heredity with crowding or natural alignment.
  • Bone loss from gum disease.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children visit the dentist by the time they are 7 years old. Their dentist can take impressions and x-rays to determine how their adult teeth might sit in the mouth. For most children, this begins a treatment plan that includes braces and retainers.

Even when a child has completed this treatment, their teeth can shift throughout adolescence and adulthood. You may develop an overjet later in life and need braces or aligners to return your teeth to a normal position.

Get the Right Dental Treatment Plan for You

Correcting problems with the alignment of your teeth, like an overjet, is not simply about having a glamorous, Hollywood smile. You may have an overjet and still have the appearance of good teeth alignment.

It is important to listen to your dentist’s recommendations for correcting these problems because you are at greater risk of developing other problems. For example, overjet teeth are more likely to become damaged, chipped, or cracked. One study found that having a large overjet doubles the risk of dental trauma, including damage or tooth loss.

You may have a hard time biting into food and chewing because your teeth do not fit properly together. If your teeth are crowded and that caused the overjet, you may have a harder time cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth with brushing and flossing, so you may develop cavities and gum disease more easily.

When you get regular dental check-ups, your dentist can discover a forming overjet and help you get the right treatment to stop it. Clear aligners can be a great option for many people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an overjet be corrected?
Most of the time, one of several options will work to correct an overjet. A major overjet can increase the risk of dental damage, jaw pain, speech impediments and susceptibility to injury. You can correct overjet through orthodontics, corrective jaw surgery and tooth replacement or tooth extraction. Orthodontic appliances used to correct overjet include braces, aligners, bonding and crowns. Corrective jaw surgery is an option for those with a severe overjet coupled with an overbite. Someone with a minor overjet might not need treatment at all or, if they do, may need only to wear braces or aligners for a brief period.
What is the difference between overjet and an overbite?

An overjet is a situation in which the teeth on the upper jaw horizontally overlap the teeth on the lower jaw, resting at a significant outward angle. An overjet is a horizontal tooth misalignment.

An overbite is a condition where the teeth on your upper jaw vertically overlap the teeth on your lower jaw by more than 3 millimeters. An overbite is a vertical tooth misalignment.

References

Overjet vs. Overbite: What’s the Difference? Colgate. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Dental Anomalies and Effects on Speech. NSW Government Health. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

What Causes Buck Teeth? Colgate. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Treatment Options for Overjet. Colgate. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Orthodontics at Any Age. Canadian Dental Association. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Large Overjet May Double the Risk of Dental Trauma. (June 2015). National Library of Medicine (NIH). Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Malocclusion and Orthodontics. (October 2020). Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

Large Overjet May Double the Risk of Dental Trauma. (June 2015). National Library of Medicine (NIH). Date fetched: April 27, 2021.

What is Overjet: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Orthodontic Treatment (May 2020). Diamond Braces.

Adult Overjet: What It Is and How to Correct It (November 2020). Smile Prep.

What's the difference between an overbite and an overjet? (June 2019). Orthodontics Australia.

What is the Difference Between an Overjet and an Overbite? (January 2021). Manoa Dental.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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