We can transform every misalignment, from overbites to underbites. In this article, we’ll be exploring open bites and the different ways we can treat them.
What is an open bite?
An open bite is a type of orthodontic misalignment where there’s no contact between the top and bottom teeth. An anterior open bite affects the teeth at the front of your mouth, where we would typically expect the upper teeth to overlap the lower teeth.
Patients with an anterior open bite often find it difficult to bite into food effectively. You might find yourself biting into a sandwich and leaving the filling behind.
If the position of your teeth is responsible for your open bite, you have a dental open bite. If your open bite is caused by a misalignment of your jaws, you have a skeletal open bite. We can treat both types of open bites using braces, and on rare occasions, surgery.
Some people confuse an open bite with an overjet. Open bites create a vertical gap between your top and bottom teeth. Overjets create a horizontal gap where the front teeth protrude horizontally past the lower teeth.
What causes an open bite?
If you have a skeletal open bite, the cause of your open bite is likely to be genetic.
Habits like prolonged thumb or finger sucking or sucking on your lower lip can push your teeth apart and create an open bite between the front teeth.
For a long time, tongue thrusting (pushing your teeth with your tongue when you swallow) was thought to cause an open bite, but recent research tells us this isn’t the case.
What can create an open bite is the position of your tongue when it’s resting. The constant weight of your tongue on your teeth is enough to move them apart.
Treatments for open bites
Open bites can usually be treated with braces. If you have a skeletal open bite, we can also discuss the option of jaw surgery if braces alone won’t achieve the desired result.
You can choose between fixed and removable braces or even lingual braces that hide behind your teeth. We may need to use elastic bands to pull your teeth together and close your open bite.
During your consultation, specialist orthodontist Dr. Jackie Clune will examine your teeth and jaws and go through all your options, including timeframes and prices.
Fixed braces feature metal or clear ceramic brackets that we attach to each tooth and control using a thin metal archwire.
They’re an effective way to straighten teeth, and we can be very exacting and achieve small, precise movements.
Your braces will be fixed in place throughout your treatment, so you’ll need to take great care of them to keep your teeth healthy and avoid any breakages.
Lingual braces, which fit behind your teeth, are another excellent way to treat open bites. Incognito lingual braces are custom-made to fit each tooth for predictable results (and extra comfort).
Lingual orthodontics requires a high level of skill, so it’s essential to see a specialist orthodontist.
Invisalign straightens teeth using a sequence of clear, removable aligners. It’s an effective way to treat an open bite, and in some cases, it can be more efficient than fixed braces.
Invisalign is almost invisible, and you can take your custom-made aligners out to brush your teeth and maintain a healthy smile during your treatment.
If we need to improve the position of your jaws to achieve the best result, we can discuss jaw surgery at your consultation. Jaw surgery involves surgically moving your jaws and securing them in the optimal position using small screws and plates beneath your gums.
We work closely with maxillofacial surgeons to deliver incredible results for patients young and old. If you consider this route, we can refer you for a surgical consultation.
Once your open bite is closed, and your treatment is complete, we’ll fit retainers to maintain your new smile.
We’ll give you removable or fixed retainers or a combination of the two. Without retainers, there’s a very high chance that your open bite will return, so it’s essential to wear them for life.
We include one year of aftercare for every patient, so we can oversee your retention and offer ongoing care and support.