Even a Comparatively Mild Overjet Can Increase the Risk of Dental Trauma in Children
Photo Credit: University of Adelaide

By Emma Yasinski


Children with an overjet – a condition where an individual’s top row of teeth protrude far in front of the lower teeth when the child’s mouth is closed – are at increased risk of dental trauma, according to a May 2019 study published in Dental Traumatology.

The results suggest that “when children attend for a check-up, dentists could check if there are any thumb sucking habits that might be contributing to an increased overjet,” the paper’s lead author, Dr. Esma Dogramaci, a senior orthodontic lecturer at the University of Adelaide in Australia, told Incisor.

“If present, they can talk to the children about giving up such habits. If children have an increased overjet and play sports, they could discuss the importance of wearing a mouthguard. Early orthodontic treatment could be provided for children in the mixed dentition who have an increased overjet in order to reduce the risk of trauma occurring,” Dr. Dogramaci said.

Early dental trauma can increase the likelihood of complications in later dental and orthodontic care.

The researchers identified nearly 4,000 studies. Based on set quality criteria, such as minimal bias, the team included 41 studies in a systematic review. These studies included data from more than 50,000 children.


“We would like to raise awareness amongst dentists that dental trauma, the fifth most prevalent disease or injury globally, can be prevented and that dentists play a key role.” ‑ Dr. Esma Dogramaci


The University of Adelaide team analyzed the risk of dental trauma in children under 19 years of age and found that any child – whether in primary or secondary dentition – experienced an increased risk of dental trauma if their teeth protruded 5mm or more.

The threshold was lowest for the youngest children, age birth to six, who were in primary dentition. In this group, children were at risk with only a 3mm overjet. Having an overjet of 3mm or more increased their risk of dental trauma more than three-fold.

The risk decreases moderately with age. Those with mixed primary and secondary dentition who had an overjet of 5mm or more had about 2.4 times the risk of dental trauma compared to their counterparts without an overjet. Once they entered secondary dentition around age 12, the risk decreased to 1.81 times for those whose teeth protruded 5mm or more.

“We would like to raise awareness amongst dentists that dental trauma, the fifth most prevalent disease or injury globally, can be prevented and that dentists play a key role,” said Dr. Dogramaci.

The next step is better understanding the various complications of early dental trauma. Dr. Dogramaci said that “a longitudinal observational study is the ideal next step to help us understand what happens when teeth are protrusive, knocked, and then undergo orthodontic treatment. This a big gap in our dental knowledge as the outcomes we’ve seen clinically can vary widely and are often unpredictable.”


Author: Contributing writer Emma Yasinski received her Master of Science (MS) in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Her articles have also appeared at TheAtlantic.com, Kaiser Health News, NPR Shots, and Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

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