Orthodontic Problems and Solutions: Open Bite

It is important for patients to know what kind of orthodontic problems they may have, as this is the only way to make sure that they can make informed choices about their dental treatment.   Depending on what kind of orthodontic problem you have, your treatment can last from six months to three years, and the costs that are incurred vary greatly.

This is why these series of articles wish to articulate what kind of orthodontic problems exist, what their solutions are, and what kind of costs and treatment times can be expected. As each case varies greatly, the final say will be made by your orthodontist, but these articles should give the patient a general idea of what to expect.
Today we will be examining the problem of open bite. 

What is open bite?

Open bite is a condition that sounds roughly like what it is; when the teeth do not close down the area of the mouth into a closed section, and there is space when biting down, the bite is considered open. This makes swallowing more difficult, and may cause the patient to bite and chew using different teeth, which may damage them. Open bites can be anterior or posterior, but they are almost always anterior. Anterior open bite means the front teeth do not meet when biting down and leave a gap. Posterior open bite means that the gap is in the back, affecting the molars. These gaps are almost always caused by tongue thrusts; the tongue, when assuming different shapes and sizes while eating, chewing and swallowing, touches the teeth and pushes them slightly from time to time. This will eventually move the teeth enough that the bite is open, and air enters the mouth when it should be sealed off.

How to treat open bite

Open bite is traditionally fixed with the use of orthodontics; many times, even removable, functional devices, aligners or a quad helix is enough to rectify the situation. Many times the anterior open bite is so severe that it can only be rectified through surgery. As open bite is a symptom and not a condition, its treatment largely depends on what is causing the teeth to be shifted. Many times open bite is due to some other orthodontic problem, like crowding, or a gap in the teeth, and this can be easily fixed, but if tongue thrusts are causing the problem then very extensive changes may need to be made before normal chewing function is restored. 

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