People with an open bite have front teeth that either slant outward or apart, creating a space between the top and bottom front teeth when the mouth is closed. An open bite is considered a malocclusion, meaning the teeth aren’t properly aligned when the jaws are shut. This is a common problem that can be fixed through orthodontics.
Open Bite Causes
There are four main causes of an open bite:
Tongue thrusting – Thrusting the tongue forward when swallowing or speaking can cause an open bite.
Thumb sucking or use of a pacifier – Thumb-sucking or the use of a pacifier can put a strain on the alignment of the teeth, causing an open bite.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) – TMJ problems can cause chronic pain in the jaw. Sometimes using the tongue to push the teeth apart can comfort this pain but will eventually cause an open bite.
Skeletal Problems – Lastly a genetic skeletal problem can cause the jaws to grow apart.
Importance of Treating an Open Bite
Eating – An open bite can prevent the ability to bite or chew food properly.
Speech – Open bites can cause lisps or problems with speech and pronunciation.
Tooth Wear – Open bites cause the back teeth to come together more often than the front teeth. This wear pattern can cause enamel wear, pain, or even fractured teeth.
Aesthetics – Lastly, having an open bite can negatively impact your appearance.
Open Bite Treatment
There are three main ways to treat open bites. These are:
Behavior modification – If your child’s open bite is being caused by thumb-sucking or pacifier use, changing these behaviors can prevent an open bite from worsening.
Orthodontics – If the adult teeth are growing into the same open bite pattern as the baby teeth, orthodontic braces may be used to pull the teeth into their proper position.
Surgery – Lastly, in severe cases, jaw surgery may be necessary to reposition the upper jaw into proper place using screws and plates