An open bite is a form of malocclusion, or bite alignment issue. With an open bite, your top and bottom rows of teeth do not meet when your mouth is closed. Keep reading to learn more about open bites and how we can fix them.
Types of Open Bite
There are a few different types of open bite. Typically when we talk about an open bite, we are referring to the most common form, the anterior open bite. This condition occurs when the incisors (front teeth) on the top and bottom do not touch or overlap. The next type is a posterior open bite, which is when the premolars and molars at the back of your mouth do not meet. Less commonly, people can have what is called a dental open bite, which occurs when certain teeth do not erupt properly, or a skeletal open bite, which involves irregular bone growth in the face.
What Causes an Open Bite?
An open bite is often genetically inherited. However, young children can also develop an anterior open bite from habits such as tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, pacifier use, or extended bottle feeding. These habits tend to push the top teeth forward over time, which creates a vertical gap between the top and bottom rows of teeth.
How We Treat an Open Bite
Anterior open bites are relatively common malocclusions in children. It is important to treat an open bite to prevent speech issues, problems chewing, and uneven wear and tear on teeth. We typically repair an open bite through the use of orthodontic headgear, which forces your jaw into proper alignment. Headgear is usually combined with the use of braces or clear aligners to straighten the teeth. For children whose tongue thrusting or thumb sucking habits caused them to develop an open bite, therapy to correct these habits is often an important part of treatment as well. If you or your child has an open bite and would like to discuss treatment options, call our office today.