Not having your teeth touch when you bite, also called an open bite or malocclusion, is more common than you may think. Here at AOMS of Hot Springs, we hear lots of patients saying, “My teeth don’t touch when I bite, what should I do?” Many of them ask if they’re destined to live with such issues forever. Some of them worry about their dental health, while others agonize over the esthetics.
But the most significant concern all of them have is whether they can effectively treat it. The short answer is yes, but let’s dig deeper into the matter to find out how.
Here’s what causes it and how your dentist can treat it at your next visit.
What’s an open bite?
An open bite is a type of malocclusion that can occur if your front teeth don’t touch, while your back teeth are aligned, or if your back teeth don’t touch, while your front teeth fit normally.
There are four causes of this:
- Sucking on a thumb or a pacifier
- Tongue thrusting
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
The first cause is obviously common in children, while the second can occur in adults as well. Most of the time, it’s because of childhood habits. Stress, swollen tonsils, or chronic allergies can cause tongue thrusting, or when the tongue presses forward and causes an open bite.
TMJ disorders, which affect the joint connecting your jaw to your skull, can occur because of a jaw injury, arthritis, or grinding or clenching your teeth. Signs of TMJ include a popping or clicking in your jaw, tenderness around your jaw and ear, headaches, and ringing in your ear. Genetics can also play a role in malocclusion, because they influence the development of underbites and overbites.
Treating an open bite
This condition is both common and treatable. If you want to know how your dentist can make you look and feel better with the right treatment, check out these three ways of how they might do it.
1. Behavior modification
This option can help both children change the habits of thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Therapy is one of the best ways to correct these habits, but if it doesn’t prove effective, certain appliances, such as tongue spurs or a tongue crib, might work better.
2. Dental braces
Dental braces are the most common method for treating a misaligned jaw. Whether you have an open bite, underbite, or overbite, a brace can help align your teeth. For underbites, upper jaw expanders may be a much better option than regular braces. Sometimes, they can be a necessary step before corrective jaw surgery.
3. Maxillofacial surgery
Maxillofacial surgery procedures, although usually a last resort, are corrective measures that focus on the jaw, face, mouth, neck, and head. Open bites, underbites, and overbites are some of the most common among them.
If you need surgery, know that it can help you eat easier, speak better, and eliminate any pain or discomfort. Most importantly, it can prevent further teeth problems, such as fractures and cavities. It can also help you have a nice smile, which boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Other reasons for getting the surgery include treating sleep apnea, TMJ, facial injury, and correcting speech. Patients with birth defects, such as a cleft palate or lip, also often turn to maxillofacial surgery procedures to help solve the problem.
Finding a good oral surgeon
Finding a good oral surgeon is the most important factor for successful oral surgery, so it requires research and careful consideration. In fact, one of the best places to find a good recommendation is your dentist’s office. Your dentist must know at least one excellent surgeon who can help resolve your specific teeth problem.
The surgeon’s expertise and experience also matter a great deal with your required surgery. You’ll want someone who truly knows what they’re doing and can help you without any issue. It’s also good for your surgeon to have some accolades, since awards show commitment. The practice itself also matters. The surgeon and their team should value professionalism and impeccable hygiene from the lobby to the back office.
The team at Arkansas Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons can turn your dream smile into a reality, because we love our job, and we want to help you feel and look your best. Contact us today at (501) 510-1061 to schedule an appointment.