Open Bite: Causes and Treatment Options

Open Bite

An open bite is a condition in which the upper and lower teeth don’t properly meet. It is a simple and common dental problem that ranges from mild to severe. This condition can affect both children and adults. The severity of the condition will determine the treatment options available.

This blog will briefly discuss the causes of an open bite and the treatment options available.

What is an Open Bite?

Open bite is a dental term used to describe a condition when the upper and lower teeth do not fit properly together. It occurs when the jaw has an abnormal development, causing the front teeth to protrude outwards and overlap each other. This malocclusion can cause several problems, such as speech impediments, difficulty eating, and even changes in facial shape. An open bite can be caused by various reasons, including genetics, oral habits like thumb sucking, or incorrect jaw alignment during tooth eruption.

In most cases, treatment for an open bite is necessary to restore proper occlusion of the teeth. Dental braces are usually recommended as they help push back the misaligned teeth into their correct positions over time. Orthognathic surgery may also be required in severe cases where one or both jaws are displaced from their normal position.

What Are the Signs of Open Bite?

An open bite can cause aesthetic problems and make speaking and eating difficult. To prevent serious consequences, it is important to know the signs of an open bite so that prompt treatment can be obtained.

Signs of Open Bite:

  • Speech difficulties, such as a lisp
  • Inability to touch upper and lower teeth
  • Difficulties biting food with the front teeth, chewing and swallowing problems
  • Improper tooth alignment
  • Less-pronounced chin

What Causes an Open Bite?

An open bite can be caused by several different factors, ranging from genetics to bad habits. Learn more about them below:

1. Genetics

While the exact cause of open bite can vary from person to person, research suggests genetics may play a significant role.

Genetic factors have been identified as one of the primary causes behind open bite disorder. Certain genetic traits may lead to developmental changes in the shape and position of the face, resulting in an open bite malocclusion. Genetic disorders such as Crouzon syndrome or Apert syndrome are known to increase an individual’s risk for developing this condition due to alterations in facial structure caused by these conditions. Additionally, some individuals may inherit general jawbone misalignment from their parents, which could contribute to this dental issue.

2. Bad Oral Habits Such As Tongue Thrusting and Thumb Sucking

Tongue thrusting is one of the main causes of open bites in children. This occurs when your tongue pushes against or between your teeth when swallowing, which alters your bite pattern over time.

Thumb sucking is also a major culprit in creating an open bite in young children. Prolonged periods of thumb-sucking can cause your front teeth to move forward, causing them to no longer meet when you close your mouth completely.

3. Other Causes

Other causes for open bite include:

  • Inadequate space for mature teeth to emerge
  • Incorrect swallowing pattern
  • Bad tongue posture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder or other chronic dental/jaw pain

What are the Types of Open Bite?

1. Anterior Open Bite

An anterior open bite is a dental condition in which the upper and lower front teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed. This type of open bite can have several causes and have different levels of severity. It can range from affecting only a small area of the front teeth to involving all or most of them.

This type of open bite is identified by looking at the relationship between the upper and lower front teeth when they are closed together. If there’s an excessive gap between them – even if all other teeth meet properly – then this is an indication of an anterior open bite. Additionally, it’s also possible to have an anterior open bite without any visible gap because some people compensate for this issue by pushing their bottom jaw forward whenever their mouth closes.

2. Posterior Open Bite

Posterior open bite is a type of malocclusion that affects the teeth in the back of the mouth, typically on both sides. It is characterized by an abnormal gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed together. People with this condition have their front teeth touching while there is no contact between their back teeth when their jaws are closed. A variety of factors, including genetics, incorrect jaw growth, or thumb-sucking habits, can cause this type of open bite.

Recognizing posterior open bite as early as possible is important since it can lead to speech and eating difficulties if left untreated. Common signs and symptoms of a posterior open bite include difficulty closing one’s mouth completely, premature wear on the front teeth due to lack of contact with opposing back teeth, and even pain in the jaw joint due to misalignment.

3. Dental Open Bite

Dental open bite is a type of malocclusion, or misalignment of teeth, that affects the function and appearance of the front teeth. It occurs when the upper and lower incisors fail to overlap when biting down. The severity of an open bite can range from mild to severe depending on how much space is present between the upper and lower front teeth.

4. Skeletal Open Bite

A skeletal open bite is a malocclusion that occurs when the upper and lower jaw are not properly aligned. This type of open bite creates an opening between the top and bottom teeth when the patient bites down. It is caused by an imbalance between the growth of the maxilla (upper jaw) and mandible (lower jaw), resulting in an underdeveloped or overdeveloped jaw. A skeletal open bite can be classified into two types: vertical skeletal open bite and horizontal skeletal open bite.

Vertical skeletal open bites occur when the jaws are misaligned vertically, while horizontal skeletal open bites occur when they are misaligned horizontally. Both types of skeletal open bites can cause difficulty with proper chewing, speaking, and swallowing as well as aesthetic concerns due to visible gaps between teeth that do not close properly when biting down.

Why Treat an Open Bite?

Treating an open bite should be considered seriously by any patient affected by this condition, as it can significantly affect their quality of life. Treating open bite can help you with the following:

    • Improvement in pronunciation that results in better speech
    • Happy appearance and for aesthetic-al purposes
    • Eating purposes
    • Protecting your other teeth from wear and tear

What Are the Treatment Options for Open Bite?

1. Braces

Braces are one of the most common treatment options for open bite, a malocclusion in which the upper and lower teeth do not meet when biting together. An open bite can negatively affect the jaw’s alignment and cause difficulty speaking, eating, and other everyday tasks. Braces can help properly align the upper and lower teeth so that they meet correctly when biting together.

Modern braces use brackets, wires, and bands to apply pressure to your teeth over time, gradually shifting them into the desired position. The duration of treatment depends on how severe your open bite is as well as your age—generally speaking, adults require more treatments than children due to bone density changes. Additionally, orthodontists may recommend additional treatments for optimal results.

2. Invisalign

Invisalign can be a great solution for those seeking a discreet and comfortable way to treat their open bite.

Invisalign uses clear plastic aligners that are custom-made for each individual patient according to their own unique needs. These aligners fit snugly over the teeth, gradually realigning them into the proper position as they’re worn over time.

The aligners are designed to be removable so they can be taken out while eating or brushing their teeth, allowing patients to maintain their normal daily activities during treatment. Additionally, these aligners are significantly more discreet than traditional metal braces, making them ideal for adults looking to subtly correct their open bite without attracting too much attention.

3. Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is more effective and less time-consuming than braces for individuals with an open bite. When considering oral surgery as a treatment option, it is important to understand the procedure and its potential risks.

Generally speaking, surgical correction of an open bite involves cutting away excess bone and gum tissue in order to move the jaw into an ideal position. This procedure may involve reshaping existing teeth or even grafting new bone tissue onto the jawbone in order to correct any discrepancies in the alignment of the jaw joint.

4. Retainers

Retainers are often recommended as one of the most effective treatments for an open bite. Retainers come in two varieties: removable and fixed retainers. Removable retainers are made from plastic molds that fit over your teeth, while fixed retainers consist of thin wires glued directly to your teeth. Both types help to reposition the upper and lower jaw so that when you close your mouth, your front teeth will meet each other properly.

5. Veneers

Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that are designed to cover the surfaces of the teeth in order to improve their appearance and function. In cases of open bite correction with veneers, they will be crafted to fit onto each individual tooth so as to create proper alignment and restore the normal relationship between upper and lower incisors when biting down. This correction method offers natural results while providing long-lasting stability for improved dental health overall.

Final Thoughts

If you are suffering from an open bite, we hope that you have gained some insight from our blog post on the subject. There are many different causes of an open bite, so you must speak with your doctor or orthodontist about the cause and treatment options for your specific case. We hope you have a better understanding of what an open bite is and what you can do to treat it.


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Dr. Satish Pai

Dr. Satish Pai – an Ivy League trained dentist and a faculty at Columbia University, believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great while boosting confidence.  As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to not only creating perfect smiles for his patients but also educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health. Spending time with his family always brings a smile on his face. 

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