• Open Bite

OPEN BITE: All You Should Know

Open bite is a dental condition in which some of the teeth do not have contacts when biting down on food.  This often happens during the development of permanent teeth.  Fortunately, an open bite often gets corrected on its own and might not persist into adulthood. However, if a child still has an open bite at the front teeth, treatment will be recommended to avoid certain dental conditions that might occur later in life. If left untreated, an open bite can cause several problems.

In this article,  we will provide you with the necessary information you need to know about the open bite.  We will talk about the following:

  • Definition of an open bite
  • The symptoms of an open bite
  • Complications of an open bite
  • Available treatment options.

This will help you to make informed decisions about your open bite treatment.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Open Bite: The Definition

An open bite refers to when the upper and lower teeth do not make contact when biting on food or when your teeth are closed. Normally, the top front teeth are meant to sit slightly in front of the bottom teeth, while the molars at the posterior ends connect.  In an open bite, there is usually a visible gap between the upper and lower teeth.

An open bite can occur alongside other bite problems such as underbite, overbite or crossbite. 

ANTERIOR OPEN BITE

Anterior open bite occurs when the front teeth do not make contact with the posterior teeth already did. 

In contrast, posterior open bite occurs when the front teeth make contact while the back teeth do not connect properly.  The anterior open bite is more common.

OPEN BITE: The Symptoms

It is easy to spot an open bite by simply looking at your teeth when you naturally bite down. You will notice a gap between the upper and lower teeth which could be at the front or on the sides.

If an open bite is as a result of a jawbone problem,  it could be that there is excess growth of the bone at the back of the upper jaw. This leads to the poor alignment of the teeth,  causing the protrusion of the front teeth. This is referred to as an overjet.

THE COMMON CAUSES OF OPEN BITE

  • Thumb, pencil or pen sucking.
  • Genetics
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Problems with the temporomandibular joint.
  • Problems with the jawbone
  • Problem with the growth of milk teeth and adult teeth

Causes of an open bite as a result of genetics are less often explored by doctors unless there is a family history of jawbone development problem.. Treatment will be needed to prevent complications.

If your open bite teeth is caused by tongue thrusting and other actions, it is regarded as 'dental open bite'. However, it is called 'skeletal open bite' if bone problems cause it. You need not be bothered if you have an open bite as our dental experts at Cosmetic Dentistry Clinic in Harley Street London will be more than willing to provide a suitable treatment option. Visit us today!

PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH OPEN BITE

The following noticeable problems can occur as a result of open bite:

  • Speech impediments
  • Difficulty in eating some foods
  • Increased wearing off of the posterior teeth
  • Increased self-consciousness about how your smile appears

OPEN BITE IN CHILDREN

Open bite is a common condition in children. Their teeth are unlikely to connect during the transition from milk teeth to adult teeth. It usually goes off naturally around the age of 4.

When a few adult teeth have erupted, your dentist will check if there is an open bite pattern,  and if there is, correction options will be recommended.

If your children suck their thumbs or often put a lot of things in their mouths, their bite can be affected.  You need to assist your child in breaking the thumb sucking habit.

OPEN BITE PROBLEMS DUE TO TONGUE THRUSTING

Tongue thrusting is one of the major causes of open bite problems. Tongue thrusting refers to the protruding of the tongue into the mouth when swallowing or talking. Frequent thrusting of the tongue causes the front teeth to be gradually forced outwards.

PROBLEMS WITH THE JAW

The hinge that enables the opening of the mouth is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When there is a problem with this joint, there will be discomfort.  In a bid to feel more comfortable, most people move their tongue around. This can consequently lead to an open bite.

To prevent further problems, the underlying cause of the jaw problem needs to be treated. Also,  there is a need to fix the resultant open bite.

AVAILABLE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR OPEN BITE

Early diagnosis of the open bite will help increase the chance of fixing it without surgery. Open bite surgery is usually the appropriate treatment option for adults. You can contact us at Cosmetic Dentistry Clinic, London to find out the most appropriate treatment option for you or your child.

In the table below, you will get an overview of the treatment options that are available for each age grade.

Age Treatment and Intervention Options

0-4

Open bite, as well as Tongue thrusting,  is normal

There is no need to intervene

Prevent your child from thumb sucking

7-10

A dentist can recognise open bite

In case of persistent tongue thrusting, a tongue crib can be worn

Commencement of speech therapy for tongue thrusting

11-17

Braces can be used to correct the open bite

Tongue thrusting treatment can still be done

18 and above

Jaw surgery is usually the available treatment option

Veneers, braces and Invisalign can still be effective at this age

BRACES FOR OPEN BITE

It is common to treat an open bite with braces. These braces function by pulling back protruding teeth while re-aligning them. The course of treatment with the braces is between six months to two years after which retainers will be used. Retainers are important because they will ensure that the corrected teeth do not go back to the previous position.

AVAILABLE TREATMENTS FOR TONGUE THRUSTING

If tongue thrusting is the primary cause of your open bite, you will have to treat the underlying cause of the thrusting and the dental issues. The common treatments for tongue thrusting are:

  • Tongue therapy
  • Tongue exercises
  • Use of certain appliances such as a tongue crib or cradle.

Both the tongue therapy and tongue exercises can be carried out by a speech therapist. Your dentist or general practitioner would refer you to one. On the other hand, a tongue crib is like a retainer which is attached to the molars. A tongue crib or cradle acts as a barrier for your tongue to push forwards.

CAN OPEN BITE BE CORRECTED WITH INVISALIGN?

Open bite is one of the numerous types of dental malocclusion that can be fixed by Invisalign. Invisalign are clear braces which have been designed to correct about 90% of orthodontic cases. You can book an appointment with us at Cosmetic Dentistry Clinic, London to discuss if you are eligible to have Invisalign.

Contact us today on 02071830755 to get started.

CAN OPEN BITE BE FIXED WITH VENEERS?

Veneers can be used to fix the minor open bite. Veneers are thin tooth coverings made from composite material or ceramic. Your dentist will have to scrape off a small amount of enamel from the affected tooth before the veneers can be fitted.

Although veneer is effective in correcting the open bite, it poses to have many adverse effects such as:

  • Your teeth will appear bigger and longer than usual. This is because the veneers have to appear longer than your normal teeth to close the obvious gap.
  • You might experience problems with your teeth alignment because of the introduction of forces into your mouth.
  • It might be difficult to use braces or undergo jaw surgery in the future because of the inability of braces brackets to stick well to veneers.
  • It might not be effective in fixing tongue thrusting and the wear out of the back teeth.

Considering the risk associated with the use of veneers, it is best to seek advice from an expert dentist and orthodontist before you make your decision.

OPEN BITE SURGERY

Surgery might be needed to treat an open bite depending on the severity. It is common for adults to have open bite surgery because their jawbones have fused already.

RISK ASSOCIATED WITH OPEN BITE SURGERY

We cannot rule out the fact that all surgeries have some degrees of risks. Open bite (jaw) surgery has little risks associated with it. Your doctor can map out all the adjustments you need through the use of computer modelling. It might sound scary to know that plates and screws would be inserted — you should know that the benefits of better speech articulations and being able to eat well will be worth the stress.

CONTACT US

It is easy to detect open bites in children, and as such, corrective measures can be taken to fix it.  At Cosmetic Dentistry Clinic, we provide relatively affordable treatments for the open bite. You can contact us on the phone to book an appointment with one of our dentists. We are available on 02071830755.

Our dental clinic is on Harley Street, London — you can walk in to speak with one of our consultants.