Open Bite — What It Is, What the Symptoms Are, and How It’s Treated
Although not as common as some other dental conditions that call for an orthodontic intervention, an open bite is still something we need to keep an eye out for, as it leads to various complications with your teeth and jaw. In the paragraphs below, we’ll be going into everything you need to know about this type of dental malocclusion, including its symptoms and potential treatment methods. If you find you might be suffering from it, you can check the following link and learn more about orthodontics and everything this service entails.
What Does Open Bite Mean?
So what is an open bite in orthodontics? We’ve said it’s a type of malocclusion, but what does that mean? Essentially, it’s a bite problem: when your upper and lower teeth don’t come into contact when you bite down, or rather when they don’t fall into their natural position.
The most common type of open bite is the kind you see in the front of the mouth. That is if your front upper teeth don’t slightly cover your lower teeth when your jaw is closed, and if there’s a gap between them, you’re dealing with an open bite.
Of course, the same can happen in any part of the mouth. If you’re dealing with an open bite localized more in the back of your mouth, you’ve got a lateral open bite problem. If it’s affecting your front teeth, it’s an anterior kind of open bite, which is also way more common.
What Are Common Signs of It Developing?
We’ve already covered the most obvious open bite sign: a gap between your teeth. However, there are other indicators that you might be developing an open bite or another kind of malocclusion. Those include:
- Issues with swallowing and chewing — We use our teeth to chew and grind food. If you’re experiencing discomfort while doing that, it might be a sign of an open bite, especially of the posterior kind.
- Receding chin — Teeth are often not aligned well because of a receding chin. If you’ve got such problems, they might result in an anterior open bite.
- Speech problems — A lot of sounds we make when speaking require tongue-to-teeth contact. If you can’t make that contact happen, you might develop something like a lisp or be completely incapable of producing some sounds, period.
- Persistent pain — Pain is typically a sure sign that something is wrong. If you notice your teeth, jaw, or jaw joints are aching, it might be an indication that you’re developing an open bite.
What Causes It?
As with most dental problems, there are plenty of potential causes of an open bite. They can stem from genetics, bad oral habits, injuries, or a combination of those and similar things.
Genetics are obvious: if you were dealt the open bite card at birth, there is little you can do on your own to fix it, and you’ll need to rely on open bite orthodontics as a solution. The same goes for injuries.
Our oral habits, however, are in our control. If you start noticing some early signs of open bite, it might be wise to become more conscious of your bad oral habits. For example, try to avoid chewing on objects like pencils and try to avoid sucking your tongue.
Can It Be Treated, and How?
The short answer is yes: open bite can be treated in most cases. Of course, you’ll need professional feedback in regard to what type of treatment would be the best for you, so book an appointment with your dentist as soon as you notice any of the symptoms we mentioned above. If you’re in Chicago and the surrounding area, we recommend West Loop Orthodontics.
Open bite treatments include:
Braces are a common solution not just for an open bite but for many other dental issues as well. That’s not surprising: braces are affordable, simple to make, easy to take care of, and effective. What’s more, there are many different kinds of braces, so they can accommodate everyone’s needs.
Braces might be the best solution for younger children since they won’t be able to take them off, meaning they will be the most effective both at treating their open bite and helping them cut their bad oral habits, such as thumb chewing.
Surgery might sound like a drastic course of action, but for some people, it’s the only viable solution. Such cases are rare, and they’re usually a consequence of some kind of trauma to the jaw. The surgeon will either remove or move a part of the jaw, helping it fall into place and ensuring a proper bite.
Of course, you’ll need a professional diagnosis before seeking an oral surgeon.
Like braces, retainers are another affordable and fairly effective solution. They might even be better in some cases, for example, if you’re concerned about your appearance and would like the freedom to remove the retainers when necessary, which you can’t do with some fixed braces. Additionally, some dentists prescribe assistive headgear.
Why Do You Need to Treat It?
There are plenty of reasons why you need to treat your open bite, ranging from low self-esteem brought about by an unattractive smile to harmful injuries that simply need treating if you want to live a normal, productive life. Additionally, leaving an open bite untreated can lead to other, potentially worse problems, such as:
- Difficulty chewing and eating
- Speech impediments
- Tooth erosion
Naturally, acting on time is of paramount importance, too. No matter what kind of symptoms you’ve noticed, make sure you book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The same goes if you start noticing an open bite developing in your child. Preventing the problem from developing further and breaking bad habits early on is easier than combating them later when they’ve become inveterate.