Common Problems: Open Bite

In this series I would like to expand on some of the problems that orthodontics are prescribed to correct, and to go into a little detail about what forms the treatment can take. This way patients can prepare themselves for orthodontic treatment and not be surprise dor shocked when they find out what needs to happen to them. In this segment, I intend to speak a little on a medical condition that has become known as open bite.

What Is Open Bite?

When biting down the teeth should, in ideal circumstances granted to so very few, form a straight and closed line, basically like a fence. A bite is said to be open when there is a gap somewhere in that fence.

Distinct from an overbite or an underbite, an individual with an open bite has teeth that do not go in front of each other. They have, instead, a few teeth (usually the front ones) that are shorter, longer, or twisted at an angle (usually sticking out or inwards), leaving a gap.

Open bite

This malocclusion can cause many problems. First, it can affect biting and chewing functions and as such cause pain and problems for the TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, the joints in your jaws that allow you to chew and bite. The condition can often affect patterns of speech, causing spitting sounds or a lisp. The condition can also lead to xerostomia, or chronic dry mouth, as there is a constant gap in which air can dry out the mouth, which can cause bleeding of the gums, weakened immune responses, and may cause infection as well as gum recession.

What Can Be Done

The use of standard braces is usually enough to correct such a condition. The teeth are usually pushed back into their correct alignment. If some of the teeth are suffering from torsions, the use of headgear or other appliances may be necessary to first twist the tooth back into a healthy position, and then push the teeth into the optimal position, closing the bite.      

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