In an ideal scenario, when the jaws are closed in a bite, the upper teeth rest on the lower teeth in close approximation to give an ideal occlusion. But, in majority of people, this scenario is different.
When the upper and lower teeth do not come together on biting, there are gaps seen in certain areas. This is known as an open bite.
How does one end up with an open bite?
There can be many reasons that can lead to development of an open bite. One of the reasons is a developmental problem with the jaws especially during the mixed dentition phase.
Other, rather common reason, is habits. Habits such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking can lead the flaring of the teeth and a subsequent open bite. Habits such as chewing on external objects and sucking of lower lip also lead to an open bite.
How does an open bite affect the individual?
A major concern with individuals having an open bite is that is looks unaesthetic. Nobody likes black windows in their pearly white smile!
Apart from aesthetic reasons, there are a couple of functional issues that can crop up with the development of an open bite. Speech defects such as lisping, inefficient chewing and inability to bite with front teeth are very common and can be frustrating as well as embarrassing to the individuals as children and adults.
How can open bite be treated?
Open bites can be detected early on as they are developing. So, trying to eliminate or stop the habit causing the open bite is an effective way to begin. An orthodontic consultation every 6 months during your child’s mixed dentition phase is a good idea. Once the open bite has developed, orthodontic intervention is necessary to correct it. Different appliances such as tongue crib devices, roller appliance, Head gear with or without chin cup, bite blocks and surgery are few treatment options.
Early diagnosis of open bite is the best way to treat it!