Open bite occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not touch when your teeth are completely biting down. An anterior open bite is an open bite on the front teeth. A posterior open bite is an open bite on the back teeth.
An opening between the upper and lower front teeth is a common feature in children when they are in mixed permanent and baby teeth stage. This open bite develop during the period when the upper and lower front baby teeth are lost and when the upper and lower front permanent teeth are erupting into the space.
Thumb sucking habit
Prolonged thumb sucking habit that continues to the age when adult teeth are erupting will impose a problem to the development of teeth and jaws. The presence of the thumb (or any other fingers) between the upper and lower front teeth prevents the teeth to erupt fully and meet. In advanced situation, the forces of thumb sucking can influence the development of the jaws resulting in a skeletal open bite.
Failure of teeth to erupt
Some teeth may fail to erupt into space resulting in an open bite. Presence of an obstacle, e.g. an extra tooth, along the pathway of eruption of the teeth may prevent teeth from erupting normally.
Jaw bone discrepancies
Open bite can be the result of skeletal discrepancies, in which the upper and lower jawbones developing apart, instead of meeting at the front. Skeletal open bite is often influenced by genetics.
Difficulty in function
As the teeth do not meet, chewing becomes impossible at the site of an open bite. In addition, normal speech may be impeded as a result of open bite. Individuals with open bite may speak with a lisp.
The presence of a gap between upper and lower teeth can significantly affect smile aesthetics and appearance.
Open bite is a temporary developmental feature in many children during the stage of changing of baby teeth to permanent teeth. This type of open bite usually self-corrects once the permanent teeth are fully erupted.
Depending on the nature and severity of the open bite, treatment for open bite can be challenging. Orthodontic treatment for open bite may involve plates, braces, or clear aligners. In more severe cases, jaw surgery will be indicated.
If open bite is the result of thumb sucking habit, the normal bite will often restore simply by stopping the habit. In more severe cases, orthodontic treatment will be required to close the bite.
Are you suffering from this condition? See one of our specialist orthodontists for an assessment.