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An open bite is a type of malocclusion that affects the alignment of the upper and lower jaws when the mouth is closed. In most cases, people refer to an anterior open bite when they say open bite. Anterior open bite is a situation whereby the upper front teeth and the lower front teeth jut outward and do not touch when the mouth closes.

Causes of open bite

There are four major factors responsible for the formation or development of an open bite. These factors include;

  • Skeletal problems

Genetics can equally contribute to this factor. In people with no skeletal or bone problems, the upper and lower jaws are supposed to grow parallel to each other. Instead, in this case, the jaws grow apart from each other, contributing to the protrusion of the upper and lower dentition.

  • Thumb sucking or the use of a pacifier

Sucking on a thumb, pacifier or any other object can alter the state of the upper and lower jaws, leading to an open bite. The act of continually sucking on an object causes strain on the alignment of the teeth, hence an open bite.

  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (tmj or tmd)

This is a situation whereby the position of the jaw is changed due to the activity of the patient. This happens when people use their tongue to push their teeth forward, creating an open bite. This does not happen immediately, as the upper and lower jaws slowly jut forward due to continuous pushing of the teeth. This disorder can cause chronic jaw pain if not treated properly and on time.

  • Tongue thrusting

People who speak with a lisp, or people who unconsciously push their tongue between the upper and lower jaws when speaking or swallowing, are prone to having open bites. Not only does this cause an open bite, but it can also create gaps in the teeth as well.

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Treatment for open bites

There are several treatment options available for an open bite. However, the one that suits each patient best would be based on the individual’s age and whether or not they have adult or baby teeth. Treatment options for open bites include the following

  • Mechanical treatment such as the use of braces or Invisalign
  • Behaviour modification
  • Surgery

When a child has an open bite, treatment may not really be an option if the cause of the open bite is corrected or stopped as in the case of thumb sucking or use of a pacifier. In children’s cases, they still have their baby teeth, and so open bite can be resolved on its own without any treatment if the thumb sucking or pacifier usage stops.

In cases whereby the patient no longer has baby teeth, but the replacing adult teeth have not fully grown in yet, therapy or behaviour modification would be the best treatment option. This will help the patient get rid of the habits that contribute to the open bite.

There are cases where the patient may have had a case of open bite with their baby teeth, and as the adult teeth are replacing the baby teeth, they grow in the same pattern. In this case, the most appropriate treatment option would be a brace or Invisalign custom braces. This will pull the teeth back into its original and normal position.

In adult cases where the adult teeth have fully grown, the treatment option can vary. If it is a very severe case of an open bite, surgery to reposition the jaw with palates and screws would be the best option. In less severe cases, a combination of behaviour modification and braces would correct the problem.

There are other treatments available, and they include

  • Use of headgear to pressure the jaws into position using applied force. It properly aligns the jaws for growth
  • Use of roller appliance that limits the tongue thrusting action on the teeth.

Side effects of open bite

Some might wonder what happens if you decide not to get treated for an open bite. While an open bite may seem mild or seem like something that can be ignored, it can affect the use of your teeth as a whole. The effects of not getting treated for an open bite include

  • Improper chewing: an open bite can affect the way you chew your food. The Improper alignment of the teeth can prevent you from chewing your food properly, leading to indigestion.
  • Appearance: having an open bite can affect your dental look. Without treatment or correction, it can make the patient feel self-conscious because the teeth look like it sticks out.
  • Wearing of tooth: the Improper alignment of the teeth due to open bite causes wearing away of the tooth. Other problems can arise from this, such as discomfort and fractured teeth.
  • Speech problems: people with open bites are prone to having speech difficulties like lisp. The protrusion of the upper and lower jaws can interfere with the way a person speaks.

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Getting an open bite treated

It is much easier to treat an open bite when the adult teeth are not fully grown in yet. This way, there is less pain, and treatment is much easier. When the adult teeth set in, treatment becomes a lot more difficult and in some cases, may require surgery as well.

You do not have to wait for these to set in before you consider treatment, simply book an appointment with us today at Adult Braces Clinic London. You will be linked to our dentists and orthodontists who will help you get the best treatment option for your open bite.

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