Overjet is a type of misalignment in which the upper teeth extend horizontally past the lower teeth. This dental condition is often confused with overbite (which refers to a vertical overlapping of the lower teeth), and for good reason — the two often exist in parallel. While neither condition is a serious medical concern, each can cause jaw pain, headaches, impaired speech, or lack of total confidence with one’s physical appearance.
Luckily, if you’re experiencing any form of discomfort with your overjet, there’s a range of effective treatment options for people of all ages — and braces typically top the list. In this guide, we’ll get into the details of treating overjet with braces, the different styles of braces that exist today, and finally, some alternative treatment options if braces aren’t the right fit for you.
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Are Braces Effective for Overjet?
The short answer: yes. Braces are an extremely effective treatment option due to the sturdiness of their design, and their ability to be paired with elastics and other specialized dental attachments like the Herbst appliance. In some cases, treatment may also be supplemented with tooth extraction, as overcrowded teeth can interfere with overjet correction. For all these reasons, treatment with braces can do wonders for overjet — especially if the case is caused by a misalignment of the teeth alone.
On the other hand, if your overjet is coupled with a severe skeletal overbite (where the jaws are significantly misaligned), the effectiveness of braces will depend largely on the type of results you’re looking for. If you are seeking a radical transformation of your facial appearance, braces may not be able to produce the before-and-after you desire. On the other hand, if you’re set on avoiding jaw surgery, braces can still make a massive difference in your bite and your facial profile.
In addition to their ability to produce powerful dental transformations, another great thing about braces is that there are several types to choose from. In the following section, we’ll touch on the differences between each style of braces and explain which are best for treating overjet.
What Types of Braces Can I Choose From?
Twenty years ago, traditional metal braces were pretty much the only show in town if you wanted to change something about your smile. However, in recent years, there’s been a whole lot of innovation around this dental technology. From ceramic braces (designed to blend in with your teeth) to sublingual braces (placed discreetly on the back of the teeth), there’s now a whole range of options to choose from. Below we’ll discuss the 4 main types of braces that are available today.
Traditional Metal Braces
The end result of a long history of innovation in orthodontistry, metal braces in their present form came onto the scene around the mid-1970s. Over the decades since, traditional braces have remained orthodontists’ go-to treatment for crafting beautiful smiles.
Though many adults today opt for more discreet straightening appliances, standard metal braces still have a whole lot going for them. For one thing, treating patients with standard braces doesn’t require an orthodontist to obtain any extra training or purchase special equipment, and these savings are often passed along to the customer. Along these same lines, it’s often easier to find an orthodontist who can confidently administer your treatment, as orthodontists typically have the most experience working with this style of braces.
Standard braces are also extremely versatile, and better suited for treating complex bite issues than some newer dental technologies. The average cost for treatment with braces ranges between $3,000 and $7,000, and average treatment time is 18 to 30 months. Since overjet correction is typically more involved than standard teeth straightening, your treatment will likely fall on the higher side of that range (both in terms of cost and duration).
The earliest clear braces were introduced in 1987 by 3M (makers of Scotch tape and many other popular consumer brands). While early models of clear braces were known to be less effective at adjusting teeth, the technology has come a long way in the past 30+ years. Today, clear braces are able to achieve adjustments quite comparable to their metal counterparts.
Clear braces work just like metal braces, but offer a sleeker aesthetic preferred by many adults. This difference in appearance is achieved by replacing the standard metal brackets with translucent, ceramic ones that blend in with the teeth. Although clear braces typically incorporate a metal arch wire, and the brackets tend to be a bit larger, they are overall much less noticeable than standard metal braces. Some people also find that the ceramic brackets are less sharp on the gums and therefore more comfortable to wear.
On the downside, not all orthodontists offer this type of treatment, so it may be somewhat difficult for you to find a local provider if there aren’t many clinics to choose from in your area. Clear braces also tend to be more expensive (around 10%-20% more) than standard metal braces. That said, clear braces have approximately the same treatment duration as standard metal braces (18-30 months), and are just as effective for correcting mild cases of overjet — provided that you’re able to locate a qualified orthodontist to administer them!
Unlike clear braces, and even invisible aligners, lingual braces are truly hidden from the rest of the world: these braces are placed on the back of the teeth instead of the front. You may be thinking, “that’s brilliant, how is this the first I’m hearing of it?” Well, there are a few reasons lingual braces aren’t more popular.
First of all, most orthodontists don’t offer this treatment option. This style of braces is more difficult to affix and adjust, and requires specialized training and equipment. From the patient perspective, lingual braces can create uncomfortable pressure around the tongue, which often results in a minor lisp. Maintaining good oral hygiene takes more effort as well, as it can be tricky to brush and floss around the inward facing brackets.
All that said, if you are able to find a local orthodontist who is willing and able to administer them, lingual braces are generally just as effective as standard braces for correcting overjet. Given the extra work involved, this option tends to be quite expensive, often costing between $8,000 and $10,000 for the full course of treatment. If your top priority is keeping your treatment completely invisible and you have the financial means to afford it, lingual braces may be the right choice for you.
Six Month Smiles
Six Month Smiles is a unique brand of clear braces that can be applied by a standard family dentist rather than an orthodontist. As the brand name implies, Six Month Smiles braces come with the promise of straighter teeth in 6 months (although sometimes treatment can take an extra month or two to achieve the desired results). These braces’ clear brackets and tooth-colored wires make them one of the least noticeable treatment options available.
Six Month Smiles is known to be most effective at treating cases where only the front teeth require significant realignment, so if your back teeth need correcting, this method may not work for you. That said, many folks with overjet and/or overbite have achieved perfect realignment using this efficient and relatively inconspicuous type of braces. All in all, if Six Month Smiles sounds like a good fit for you, it’s worth visiting a dentist to find out whether or not you’d be eligible for treatment.
Due to the shorter treatment time, Six Month Smiles is a bit less expensive than other types of braces, averaging between $3,500 and $5,000. Just keep in mind that your treatment may take longer than the advertised six months and be on the higher end of the price range above, especially if your overjet is accompanied by a significant overbite.
What is it Like to Wear Braces as an Adult?
Regardless of your age or the type of braces you choose, braces can certainly cause some discomfort, especially as your teeth adjust to initial placement and periodic tightening.
To minimize pain and reduce the risk of breaking a bracket, you’ll need to stay away from foods that are particularly hard or sticky (like chips, taffy or hard candy) and certain behaviors (like nail-biting and gum-chewing) for the duration of your treatment. It’s also important to properly care for your teeth as they move, and use all dental appliances as instructed.
You may perceive some added stigma around getting braces as an adult, but the truth is it’s a very common decision to make at any age. Plus, between ceramic braces, lingual braces, and other alternative treatment options (which we’ll discuss in the next section), there are more ways than ever to adjust your smile discreetly.
In the end, if overjet correction treatment is something you’re pursuing for the sake of your own comfort and happiness, it should be easy to remember that the long-term payoff will be well worth the temporary discomfort!
Can Overjet Be Treated Without Braces?
While braces are a fantastic option for treating most cases of adult overjet, some people don’t love the idea of wearing braces, or are put off by the price. If that sounds like you, there are a couple other unobtrusive treatment options available.
Invisalign: Invisalign is another highly effective option for correcting adult overjet. Like braces, Invisalign treatment can be paired with tooth extraction and additional dental appliances to help correct bite issues. However, unlike braces, Invisalign can be provided by a standard dentist (rather than an orthodontist), so there’s a good chance your treatment can be administered at the same place you go to get your teeth cleaned.
Of course, the most notable differences between these treatment methods is that Invisalign is 1) removable, and 2) much more discreet than traditional braces. Invisalign clear aligner trays are able to shift your teeth and realign your bite about equally as quickly as braces, and for approximately the same price (between $3,500-$8,000).
To learn more about treating overjet with Invisalign, check out our comprehensive guide.
Home Teeth Aligners: In recent years, a number of online companies like Smile Direct Club have entered the industry to provide a more affordable option for adults seeking to straighten their teeth or correct minor bite issues from home. Similar to the Invisalign treatment process, you’ll receive a set of clear, removable aligners customized to your teeth by a dental professional — but unlike Invisalign, your care will be handled entirely remotely and not require any trips to the dentist’s office.
Home alignment products tend to be significantly less expensive than braces or Invisalign, with an average cost of between $1,800-$2,000. The companies that sell home aligners typically provide an opportunity to review your expected results before purchasing a full course of treatment, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before moving forward. All in all, if you have a minor case of overjet, home teeth alignment may be a perfectly viable option for you.
When Standard Options Aren't Enough
Corrective jaw surgery is reserved for cases of overjet in which the patient also has a severe skeletal overbite. In these cases, the lower jaw often appears recessed (or set back) from the upper jaw, resulting in an uneven facial profile that standard orthodontic appliances cannot always correct. Orthognathic surgery can work to shift one or both of the jaws into the desired position for a more significant adjustment to one’s bite and facial profile.
This is a pretty significant form of surgery. In addition to being quite expensive, it can also take a while to recover from. Fortunately, most cases of overjet don’t require surgical intervention, and can be effectively handled using one of the options discussed above. If you have a very severe overjet, an orthodontist can help you determine if surgery is warranted.
Regardless of the severity or cause of your overjet, your dentist may recommend braces, and for good reason: this long-standing dental technology is able to produce powerful and sustainable dental transformations. If you’re considering corrective treatment, make sure you find a physician who’s dedicated to choosing a treatment option that reflects your top priorities — whether they’re aesthetic, budgetary, time-sensitive or otherwise.
Remember, overjet is rarely a medical concern, so the choice to pursue corrective treatment should be made with your personal desires and holistic well-being at the center. We hope this guide provided you with some helpful insight for your future dental decisions!