How to handle an open biteOctober 14, 2020 12:03 pm
Modern dentistry can do many amazing things for problems with your teeth, jaw, or gums, so there’s no need to suffer in silence. A surprisingly common problem today is an open bite – this is where your teeth don’t meet at the front of your mouth.
What is an open bite exactly?
In a healthy mouth, the teeth in your upper jaw should slightly overlap your bottom teeth when you close your mouth. If you have an open bite – which is called a malocclusion, meaning the teeth don’t meet in the correct way – then you have a gap at the front, between the two sets of teeth, when you close your mouth.
What problems can it cause?
You might have problems chewing or speaking. Many open bite sufferers have or develop a lisp. It can also affect your smile, with the teeth appearing to stick out, making many sufferers feel self-conscious. Because the teeth at the front don’t meet, it can also lead to extra wear and tear on your back teeth, causing problems like fractures.
Who does it affect?
The condition can develop in children, when they are losing their baby teeth, and the larger adult teeth are coming through. Helpfully, this kind of malocclusion may sort itself out as your child gets older. Thumb sucking or using pacifiers can also be a cause of open bite, because the action sometimes moves the teeth out of their correct alignment.
In adults, the condition can happen because of a problem with your skeleton – where the jaw bones and teeth simply don’t meet. This is often down to genetics and may require special surgery to fix. Habits can also be a factor – if you are a tongue thruster (you push your tongue out between your teeth) then this can move the teeth out of position so they are facing more forward. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorders, can also have an impact. This is where something has happened to the joints that connect your jaws, maybe because of teeth grinding or another medical condition affecting your bones and joints like arthritis. You might not even be aware that you have a TMJ disorder until the dentist tells you – but it can affect the position of your teeth as well.
How can open bite be treated?
It really depends on the cause of the condition, and how old you are. It’s usually not recommended to have surgery if you are still growing. Instead, children with an open bite will often have orthodontic treatment at a clinic instead. Braces might be a simple solution to move the teeth back into place. If there is a habit causing the condition, then the dentist will look at how to change this. A dental appliance can help stop tongue thrusting – or, there
might need to be lifestyle changes to stop thumb sucking or pacifier use.
For adults, treatments at the clinic can vary too. If it is a problem with your jaws, then orthognathic surgery might be required to move the bones into the right position. However, this is usually only needed for the most severe cases. For more mild cases, an orthodontist in Dubai such as at Drs. Nicolas & Asp might suggest braces to solve the problem.
Who should get treatment for an open bite?
Anyone can be treated for an open bite at any age! However, it is often easier and less painful to fix when you are younger – and before the adult teeth have all come through and moved into their permanent positions. For this (and many other) reasons, it’s a great idea to make sure your children visit a pediatric dentist every six months. The dentist will be able to look for this and many other problems, and if necessary, they can recommend an orthodontist to help resolve the problem with minimal fuss.
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