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What is an Open Bite?

by Dr. Amer Hussain, on Jan 3, 2020 10:50:51 PM

When most people hear the term “open bite” most don’t know what it means. Unless you have recently been to an orthodontist an open bite is a very forgein concept. To understand how orthodontics can correct open bites, it’s important to firstly understand what an open bite is and what can cause open bites. 

So let’s dive right in

What is an open bite?
An open bite is a type of malocclusion (a latin word for bad bite) which means that the teeth aren’t lined up properly when your jaw is closed or in a resting position. 

In specific to open bites, most people who have open bites have front upper and lower teeth that slant outwards so they don’t touch when the mouth is shut. This results in a gap or opening between the upper and lower jaw, an open bite can not only affect the appearance of someone’s smile but it has been known to cause difficulty with speaking (leading to lisps or other speech impediments).

So, what causes open bites?
Contrary to our other articles in the “What is”series, open bites aren’t usually caused by genetics; although, in some cases they can be. For open bites, there are 3 general factors that contribute to this misalignment between the upper and lower teeth. 

  1. Thumb-sucking or pacifier sucking 
  2. Tongue thrusting 
  3. Skeletal problems 

Thumb-sucking or pacifier sucking
This is most common in children. When someone sucks on an object (like their thumb, a pacifier or even others things like pencils) they strain the alignment of their teeth. If this strain is continued on for a length of time, it can cause an open bite. 

Tongue Thrusting
Tongue thrusting occurs when the tongue is pressed against or through the teeth when swallowing or speaking. Much like thumb-sucking, this is more common in children. Most children grow out of this habit but for those who don’t it can cause bite and speech problems. 

Skeletal Problems
As we mentioned, sometimes genetics can be the reason that someone develops open bite. In some cases your jaw can grow apart as opposed to growing parallel to each other. 

How are open bites treated?
When it comes to the treatment of open bites, there are plenty of options available. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the best treatment for you and be able to factor some personalized elements like age, health history and dentition. 

Treatment options include: 

  • Behavioural modification
  • Treatment options like braces or clear aligners (invisalign) 
  • Surgery 

The best way to find out which option will work best for you is to consult an orthodontist. They will be able to assess your case, factor in things like budget and lifestyle as well as  any other personal concerns such as appearance.  

Fixing an open bite has many benefits that extend beyond cosmetic or aesthetic purposes. Although having a healthy straight smile will positively affect your confidence and self-esteem, there are other benefits such as: 

1. Better Speech 

An open bite can interfere with how you speak and the pronunciation of words. When you correct and align you bite, it becomes easier to speak, Most people with an open tend to have a lisp. 

2. Improved Eating 

Since open bites can prevent you from biting and chewing food properly when you correct your open bite you’ll be able to have your teeth in ideal function positions which will in turn help with your digestion.

3. Decreased Tooth Wear 

When your open bite is corrected, your back teeth are coming together more often which will balance out your bite. This will equalize the pressure on your teeth leading to a decrease in wear and tear on your teeth. 

In conclusion 
Correcting an open bite is not only good appearance but also your overall health. There are plenty of treatment options available but the first step is consulting an orthodontist to get a full overview of your treatment plan. 


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