An “open bite” is more formally known as an anterior open bite. People with an anterior open bite have front teeth, both upper and lower, that slant outward and apart so that these teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed.
An open bite is a kind of malocclusion, which means that the teeth aren’t properly aligned when the jaws are shut.
Causes of Open Bite
There are 4 primary causes of an anterior open bite:
- Tongue Thrusting – Open bites can occur when a person swallows or speaks and, in the process, thrusts their tongue between the front upper and lower teeth.
- Pacifier or Thumb Sucking – Sucking on a pacifier or a thumb (or even foreign objects such as pens) can strain the alignment of the teeth, causing an open bite.
- Skeletal Problems – Some skeletal issues can cause the jaws to grow apart instead of parallel to one another. These issues are often genetically influenced.
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) – TMJ problems can cause chronic jaw pain. People with TMJ may use their tongues to push the teeth apart to more comfortably reposition their jaws. This can cause an open bite.
Reasons to Treat an Open Bite
Below are a few reasons why it’s important to fix an open bite:
- Speech – Open bites can cause lisps and problems with speech and pronunciation.
- Eating – Open bites can prevent people from properly chewing and biting food.
- Tooth Wear – Because the back teeth are coming together more often than the front teeth, the wear pattern can cause pain, enamel wear, and even fractured teeth.
- Aesthetics – Lastly, those with open bites may be unhappy with their appearance.
Open Bite Treatment
Open bite treatment can range from behavior modification to surgery, but the most common treatment for an overbite is orthodontic braces. Custom orthodontic treatment can pull the teeth back, eliminating the overbite.
If you have an open bite and would like an orthodontic evaluation, please contact Garlock Orthodontics. Our orthodontic office is located here in Aurora, Colorado.