Having straight teeth and a beautiful smile can be a confidence booster.

If you have an overjet, sometimes called buck teeth, you might feel self-conscious and hide your smile. You might even avoid social settings, which can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. But there are treatments that can help.

In this article, you’ll learn how to recognize an overjet, how it differs from an overbite, and what you can do to improve the appearance of your smile.

An overjet is when the upper teeth protrude outward and sit over the bottom teeth. Having an overjet doesn’t only affect your appearance. You can have also difficulty chewing, drinking, and biting. It may even cause jaw pain.

Some overjets are mild and barely noticeable, while others are more severe. Along with difficulty biting or chewing, poor alignment of your teeth can make it difficult to close your lips completely. You could also develop speech problems, or frequently bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek.

Keep in mind, though, it’s normal for your upper front teeth to rest slightly in front of your lower teeth when closing your mouth — they’re usually 2 millimeters (mm) apart. But if you have an overjet, your upper front teeth may extend in front of your lower teeth by more than 2 mm.

There isn’t a single cause for an overjet, but rather different variables that can contribute to this condition.

Sometimes, an overjet is hereditary. So if your mother or father has one, you might develop one, too. This might occur if you have an underdeveloped lower jawbone that causes your upper teeth to protrude further than they should.

But genetics isn’t the only cause of this. An overjet can also form if you had a habit of sucking your thumb or fingers as a child.

Having a tongue thrust can also lead to an overjet, as can using a pacifier for an extended period.

Some people use the terms overjet and overbite interchangeably. But while both conditions are similar, they’re not the same.

In both cases, your upper teeth will protrude over or in front of your bottom teeth. But with an overjet, the upper teeth protrude past the bottom teeth at an angle.

With an overbite, there isn’t an angle. Although the upper teeth protrude past the bottom teeth, the teeth remain straight or downward.

If you have a mild or slight overjet, treatment might be unnecessary. If you feel self-conscious about your teeth alignment, though, or if you develop problems, treatment options include:

1. Dental braces

Dental braces are designed to straighten and align teeth by gradually shifting them into a new location. Different types of braces are available for an overjet, including traditional metal braces and removable clear aligners.

The time frame for correcting an overjet with dental braces will vary depending on the severity of the overjet. Typically, you’ll wear braces for about 18 to 24 months.

Braces for adults can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000.

2. Veneers

Your doctor may also suggest treating an overjet with veneers. This is a piece of porcelain attached to the front surface of your teeth. It’s a custom-made design that mimics the natural appearance of your teeth.

Veneers can hide or mask misaligned teeth and other imperfections. According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, traditional porcelain veneers can last about 10 to 15 years and cost about $925 to $2,500 per tooth.

3. Dental bonding

With dental bonding, your doctor uses a composite resin to change the shape and size of your teeth. This can make protruding teeth less obvious.

The resin is strong like natural teeth, and once in place, the bonding can last for several years before needing to be replaced or repaired. Dental bonding is a less expensive procedure, costing about $350 to $600 per tooth.

4. Crown

A dental cap or crown is a custom-made prosthetic that covers the entire surface of your tooth. It can make protruding teeth appear aligned and uniformed.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average cost of a dental crown is between $800 to $1,500 or more per crown, and it can last for approximately 5 to 15 years.

If you have concerns about your teeth or smile, start by making an appointment with your dentist.

They can examine your teeth and determine the right treatment for you. In many cases, a general dentist can do veneer, dental bonding, and crown procedures.

They can also refer you to an orthodontist to discuss treatment options. An orthodontist specializes in jaw issues and teeth alignment and can install dental braces.

You may need jaw corrective surgery for a severe overjet, in which case you’ll see an oral surgeon.

This procedure can realign your jaw and teeth. Jaw corrective surgery ranges from $20,000 to $40,000. Your health insurance may cover the cost of this procedure if it’s medically necessary.

An overjet doesn’t always cause problems. But sometimes, having one can make it difficult to speak, eat, chew, and drink.

If you have problems, or just don’t like the way an overjet looks, talk to your dentist. They can determine a treatment plan that’s right for you or refer you to an orthodontist.

Treating an overjet doesn’t only make it easier to perform certain tasks. It can also improve your smile and boost your self-confidence.