Medically, an open bite is defined as a condition where the teeth of the upper jaw and those of the lower one do not touch. This condition is also called malocclusion, which means a misalignment of the teeth and the incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches. Many people have malocclusion at some level, and it not considered a serious condition that requires treatment. But sometimes, there can be risks of tooth decay and pressure on the temporomandibular joint, which can lead to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Thus, correction or treatment can be helpful in reducing this risk as well as relief from the pain caused. These open bite abnormalities sometimes may also lead to the skeletal disorganization of the face.
In the condition of malocclusion, there are two types of abnormalities―the anterior open bite and the posterior open bite. In the anterior open bite, the front or the anterior teeth do not touch, whereas, in the posterior open bite, the posterior teeth erupt in an abnormal manner. This can also be a result of the habit of thumb sucking in children past the ages of 3 years. Initially, the thumb comes in between the front teeth while development, and later the thumb is replaced with the tongue. There are similar treatments for both these conditions, and getting them corrected is advised by majority of the orthodontists. These treatments are time-consuming, as the bone structure of the jaw has to be corrected, which takes at least a year to change.
Braces and Headgear
The first method suggested by orthodontists is to wear braces.
- In this treatment, there are wires attached to the individual braces on each tooth, and with time, they exert a pressure on the affected teeth.
- Over a particular time period, this pressure causes the teeth to shift and the open bite closes. Braces are the best treatment, which is advised if the problem is not very serious and can be corrected easily.
- Thus, if you have orthodontic braces, avoid hard biting and use sensitive teeth toothpaste. Also, make sure you keep your braces clean and hygienic, as they can cause cavities and gum diseases.
- A headgear is also used for the same reason, but it is advised for very minor open bite problems. You can also use it once your braces are removed, as it is a temporary arrangement of pressure on the jaw.
- This can be followed as anterior treatment, as braces are put to correct the front teeth alignment.
Magnets and Blocks
Bite blocks and magnets are also one of the correction techniques that are used to reduce the open bite problem. They keep the teeth and jaw from moving in a particular way and direction, training it into a closed bite position. When like magnets repel each other in the jaw, the force is used to guide the teeth in the way they should be moving. These can be used along with a headgear or used individually. Magnets and blocks however, are used as the posterior open bite treatment, as they are placed on the posterior teeth for jaw corrections.
When jaw issues cannot be treated by any of the above mentioned options, surgery might be needed. It involves surgical repositioning of the jaw, which is a long and painful treatment. More than the treatment, the recovery takes a long period of time. This is so because one has to take painkillers and eat very soft foods till the wounds are healed. Hence, surgery is the last option for correction, and should be avoided as much as possible.
With these treatment options, one can easily make minor as well as major dental corrections in the jaw. Thus, if you are facing this problem, make sure you visit an orthodontist as soon as possible and get it treated.