When the upper and lower incisor (front) teeth do not meet each other when biting down, it is known as an "open bite." Even when your mouth is closed, the front teeth fail to meet. This can cause a variety of problems, not least a negative effect on your self-confidence because of embarrassment about how your teeth look.
Open bites cause further problems, particularly with biting and chewing food, because an open space between the front teeth causes all the pressure from chewing to be placed on the back teeth. Excessive biting pressure and rubbing together of the back teeth makes chewing more difficult and less efficient, and can contribute to serious tooth wear on the back teeth.
In some cases, this misalignment of the teeth can also cause speech difficulties such as a lisp.
The primary cause of an open bite is habits that force the upper and lower front teeth outwards. This can include prolonged thumb and finger sucking in children, prolonged or incorrect usage of feeding bottles or dummies once a small child's teeth have started to develop, thrusting the tongue forward between the teeth and chewing on a pen or pencil, all of which if carried out habitually can affect how the front teeth meet together.
Another cause is the condition temporomandibular joint disorder, which causes clicking and locking of the jaw, headaches and pain in the teeth and jaw. It often takes a long time for patients with this condition to be diagnosed as they put their symptoms down to other conditions. Chronic jaw pain can lead patients to use their tongue to separate the teeth so that the jaw is more comfortable.If we diagnose an open bite when we see you, we will recommend the best course of treatment, which may be with traditional braces, or lingual braces that are fitted to the back of your teeth. It is important to eliminate habits such as tongue thrusting or thumb sucking at the same time as treatment, or the problem is likely to recur. It's also a good idea to treat patients as early as possible to ensure maximum success. Back to Orthodontics