Problems of open bite and different treatment options
An open bite is a malocclusion resulting when some teeth do not come in contact while biting down. The condition is mostly present when a child is transitioning from milk teeth to permanent teeth. In most cases, the open bite closes on its own and does not affect the child during adulthood.
When the open bite remains until adulthood, it may require treatment to avoid further problems. For most persons, the thought of any dental work, including correcting an open bite, could be worrisome, but this write-up aims to explain all aboutopen bites to enable you to have a successful treatment.
You would get the information below for the following.
- What an open bite is
- The symptoms of open bite
- The problems resulting from an open bite
- The various treatment options, including Invisalign, veneers, surgery, and braces
Table of contents
- What is an open bite?
- What are the symptoms of an open bite?
- What are the problems resulting from an open bite?
- What are the treatment options?
- Open bite surgery
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What is an open bite?
An open bite is a dental condition where the top and bottom teeth do not meet when you close the teeth. Usually, the top front teeth should rest slightly in from of the bottom front teeth, while the molars would connect.
An open bite creates a visible gap between the top and bottom jaws because they do not meet correctly. You may have an open bite alongside other bite problems like a crossbite, underbite, or overbite.
Anterior open bite
In an anterior open bite, only the front teeth do not meet, but the back teeth meet each other. A few persons have this kind of open bite, and the percentage varies depending on the country.
Posterior open bite
It is the opposite of an anterior open bite, resulting when the back teeth do not meet when you bite down, but the front teeth meet. Posterior open bite is not common, and it usually results from treatment with braces. However, if it does arise during braces treatment, the dentist will identify it and correct it.
What are the symptoms of an open bite?
The most common symptom of an open bite is usually obvious. When you bite down, there will be a gap between your top and bottom teeth,the front, back, or sides of the teeth.
Open bite mostly occurs due to problems with the jawbone. Excess bone growth at the back of the upper jaw will likely push the teeth out of alignment, and this leads to the front teeth protrusion, causing a condition known as an overjet.
What causes an open bite?
Different reasons can lead to the development of an open bite, and they include:
- Sucking on pencil, dummy, or pen
- Thrusting the tongue
- Disorderly milk and adult teeth eruption
- Problems with the jawbone
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems
Doctors have not been able to link genetics to open bite, but in most cases, if there is a history of jaw development problems in the family, the child will likely have the same issues.
If an open bite results from bone issue, it is a skeletal open bite, but if it results from other actions like sucking on a dummy or tongue thrusting, it is a dental open bite.
What are the problems resulting from an open bite?
An open bite may lead to some obvious problems like the following.
- Lisping and other speech impediments
- Wearing down of the back teeth
- Self-consciousness and low self-esteem
- Eating difficulties
What are the problems resulting from an open bite in children?
Some infants and young adults also have an open bite, but it usually closes at about four years. It also occurs in children when transitioning from their milk to adult teeth, but once a few adult teeth erupt, you can take your child for a dental exam. If the dentist notices any potential problems, you have to opt for a suitable treatment for your child.
Everyday habits in children such as extended use of a dummy and putting several things in the mouth, it could cause the improper development of the bite, and this affects the teeth.
What are the problems caused to tongue thrusting?
Tongue thrusting is a significant cause of open bite. Tongue thrusting means that when you talk or swallow, the tongue thrusts forward into the mouth. This makes the front teeth to move outwards into an open bite gradually. Children mostly portray these habits, but they tend to outgrow it at about four years.
What are the issues resulting from jaw problems?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is like a hinge that allows the opening and closing of the mouth. If you havethis joint problem, it causes you to move your mouth and tongue around for comfort. The most comfortable position ofthe tongue is resting it forward in the mouth or between the teeth. This pushes the teeth forward and leads to an open bite.
To correct an open bite resulting from jaw problems, you need to correct the underlying problem with the joint before treating the open bite.
What are the treatment options?
Fixing an open bite in childhood increases the likelihood of successful treatment without surgery. In adults, the most likely treatment option is open bite surgery.
The best person to recommend an effective treatment option is your dentist. Most persons under 18 years may receive treatment under the NHS if the treatment is medically necessary. Under the NHS, treating open bites in adults is based on medical needs.
The cost of treating an open bite usually depends on the treatment, severity of the case, and where you live.
The table below summarises the various treatment option available depending on the age of the patient.
Treatment or intervention option
0 – 6
1. Tongue thrusting and open bite are normal
2. There is no need for an intervention
3. Restricting the use of dummies and thumb sucking
7 – 10
1. Begin speech therapy for tongue thrusting
2. Tongue cribs for persistent tongue thrusting
3. Dental examination to check if adult teeth would open bite
11 – 17
1. Braces for open bite
2. Tongue thrusting therapy
1. Jaw surgery
2. Braces and Invisalign for open bite
Braces for open bite
Using braces is a common treatment for the open bite. Braces help to pull back the teeth into proper alignment if they are protruding forward. The treatment usually lasts for six months to two years, and you will need retainers afterwards. Using retainers after your treatment with braces ensures that the teeth maintain their new position.
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Tongue thrusting treatment
If your open bite is due to tongue thrusting, you will need to treat the tongue thrusting and the open bite.
Common treatments for tongue thrusting include:
- Carrying out tongue exercises
- Tongue therapy
- Using appliances like tongue crib
A tongue crib or cradle looks like a retainer, but the dentist attaches it to your molars, and it serves as a barrier across the mouth to prevent the tongue from pushing forward. You can get exercises and therapy from a speech therapist.
If you stop thrusting your tongue, it does not correct the open bite but only prevents the condition from getting worse.
Invisalign treatment for open bite
Invisalign can correct most types of malocclusion, including open bite. Invisalign aligners are plastic and made of a transparent material. The aligners fit over the teeth and gradually moves them to their right position, but you need to switch out each set of your aligners every two weeks.
The NHS does not cover open bite treatment with Invisalign, so if you opt for Invisalign, you have to get it privately. The aligners can treat 90% of orthodontic cases, so before your treatment, you would take a smile assessment test to visit your Invisalign dentist to check your eligibility for the treatment.
Veneers for open bite treatment
You can use veneers to correct a mild open bite. A dental veneer is a thin covering made from either ceramic or composite materials. The dentist will scrape off a small amount of your enamel from the tooth before fixing the veneer.
Carrying out veneer placement is a cosmetic procedure, so it might not fix the open bite correctly but cover the problem. Some of the downsides of using veneers include:
- They make the teeth look bigger because veneers tend to be longer than the natural teeth for it to close the gap
- Veneers may cause more problems with the alignment of the teeth
- Using braces or jaw surgery may be difficult because brackets do not stick properly to veneers.
- Veneers to not treat underlying issues like tongue thrusting or wearing down of the back teeth
There are several factors to consider concerning the long-term damage to your oral health if you decide to use veneers, so you have to discuss it thoroughly with your dentist. However, veneers may be a quick fix for correcting small open bites that do not cause speech or eating problems.
Open bite surgery
Correcting an open bite with surgery depends on the severity of the condition, but most adults with the open bite may likely need surgery because the boned have fused and cannot move quickly.
For persons below 18 years, the NHS will likely cover the cost of getting an open bite surgery. Adults may also get free open bite surgery under the NHS, depending on if the surgery is medically needed. In private dental practices, the cost of open bite surgery for adults is between £2,000 - £6,000.
Before the surgery, you may need to wear braces for a year and six months to a year afterwards. You would not have scars after the surgery because the dental surgeon will make all the incisions inside your mouth. You may take only a liquid diet after the surgery for a few days and may experience swelling.
Risks of open bite surgery
All types of surgery have certain risks, but open bite surgery is much safer because the surgery is a common one and well understood.
Before the surgery, your dental surgeon will use computer modelling to map out all the needed adjustments. During the procedure, the surgeon will insert some screws then reposition the bones to enable you to eat and have an improved speech production.
It is easy to spot an open bite in children and adults but treating it is easier in children because the bones have not fused. Persons under 18 years can get free metal brace treatment on the NHS if the open bite causes eating or talking difficulties. Adults can get treatment on the NHS for their open bite if the treatment is a medical necessity.
If you decide to get treatment for your open bite other than metal braces like ceramic braces or Invisalign, you will have to pay for it privately. You can get different types of treatment for an open bite at London Braces. Contact us now on 020 37457520 to book an appointment with our dentist.