Malocclusion, or misaligned teeth, is a common dental condition that affects almost everyone. Perfect teeth without any kind of malocclusion are exceedingly rare. Most people must rely on some form of orthodontic treatment to correct their malocclusion, whether it be an overbite, open bite, crooked teeth, or dental crowding.
While malocclusion is common, an open bite is not. In fact, only 0.6% of people in the United States suffer from the condition. An open bite can be caused by a number of reasons, including genetic and skeletal issues, and poor oral habits. Unfortunately, for those who do have open bite malocclusion, common activities such as chewing or speaking can be hindered. Furthermore, an open bite can also hinder a person’s look and smile, adversely affecting their self-perception and self-esteem.
“Open bite is often an avoidable condition. Many cases of open bite develop as a result of a tongue thrusting habit, thumb sucking, and in some cases are the result of a temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder. As with many dental conditions and diseases, the best time to treat an open bite is early.”
— DR. REZA KHAZAIE, DDS. PROSTHODONTIST
There are primarily three types of open bite: an anterior open bite, posterior open bite, and incomplete overbite. In each case, a portion of the upper and lower teeth are not touching each other. With an anterior open bite, the front upper and lower teeth are not touching and appear open even when the mouth is closed. A posterior open bite refers to the same condition except it is the rear teeth that cannot be closed. Sometimes, patients with a so-called incomplete overbite will also be diagnosed with an open bite since their upper and lower front teeth do not touch.
What is the best treatment for an open bite?
The best and most common treatment for an open bite is an orthodontic approach. Braces can help balance a bite by pushing and pulling teeth into their proper position.
In severe cases or during circumstances in which all other orthodontic treatments have failed, some patients may turn to corrective jaw surgery. During corrective jaw surgery, the upper jaw is typically repositioned to correct any alignment and bite issues. The jaw is then permanently secured in place with metal screws and plates. Corrective jaw surgery is typically the last resort for adult patients with severe open bite.
One of the difficulties of treating open bite compared with other forms of malocclusion is the physiological component. Many patients with open bites, to compensate, develop a tongue-thrusting habit in which they push their tongues through their teeth in an effort to plug the gap. While functionally effective in the short term, tongue thrusting can do great harm and further increase the size and severity of the open bite. Part of treating an open bite in a patient is also addressing the habit of tongue thrusting or other forms of compensation that have developed as a result of their open bite.
When should I worry about an open bite?
Open bite is often an avoidable condition. Many cases of open bite develop as a result of a tongue thrusting habit, thumb sucking, and in some cases are the result of a temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder. As with many dental conditions and diseases, the best time to treat an open bite is early. When open bite has developed, early treatment is key. When a patient has reached adulthood, open bite treatment becomes much more difficult since the jawbones have hardened significantly.
When it comes to young children, behavioral corrections, such as discouraging thumbsucking, is critical. Young children with open bite, however, may not always need orthodontic treatment for their conditions. In many cases, young children will outgrow their open bite when their adult teeth erupt. Of course, to ensure that their permanent teeth grow in properly and without issue, it is wise to take your children to an orthodontist for regular visits and monitoring of their dental development. Issues can then be quickly identified and corrected before they get out of hand.
Concord, CA Dentist – Williow Pass Dental Care
Willow Pass Dental Care is dedicated to providing the best dental care in Concord, including orthodontic dentistry, for both children and adults. Dr. Reza Khazaie and the team at Willow Pass Dental Care can best identify any worrying signs of dental problems at an early stage, address any pressing dental concerns, and provide you with the care and advice you and your child need to build healthy dental habits.
Looking for a friendly and professional dental office to call home? Look no further than Willow Pass Dental Care. Call us today at 925-326-6114 or schedule an appointment below. See why Willow Pass Dental Care is considered the leader in dentistry in Concord, CA.