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How to Treat an Open Bite

A young girl sucking her thumb

People with an anterior open bite have the front teeth of both upper and lower jaws, that slant outward and apart, so much so that these front teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed.

An open bite is a type of malocclusion, meaning that the teeth not correctly aligned when the jaws are shut.

Causes of an Open Bite

The four primary causes of an anterior open bite include:

  1. Pacifier Use or Thumb Sucking – Sucking on a pacifier or a thumb can put a serious strain on the teeth alignment. These are prevalent causes of open bites.  
  2. Tongue Thrusting – An open bite can also be caused when a person swallows or speaks and, in the process, thrusts their tongue between the front upper and lower teeth.
  3. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) – TMJ issues can cause chronic jaw pain. People with TMJ sometimes use their tongues to push the teeth apart to more comfortably reposition their jaws. This habit may relieve the discomfort, but it can also cause an open bite. 
  4. Skeletal Problems – Lastly, some skeletal issues can cause the jaws to grow apart instead of parallel to each other. These issues are often influenced by genetics.

Treating an Open Bite

There are a few treatment options available for open bites. These options include:

  • Behavior modification – If your open bite is caused by thumb-sucking or pacifier use, then just changing these behaviors will be beneficial. 
  • Orthodontics – If adult teeth begin to erupt in the same open bite pattern as the baby teeth, orthodontic treatment may be used to shift the teeth into the correct position.
  • Surgery – Lastly, in severe cases, jaw surgery may be necessary to reposition the upper jaw.

For more information on how to treat an open bite, please contact Firestone Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at our Firestone, Colorado, orthodontics office.

Posted on Sep 14, 2020

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