Healthy Smiles Premier Dental

An “open bite” means that when you close your mouth, the top and bottom teeth do not touch properly, whether at the back or front. This is a serious condition, generally developed at an early age, and won’t correct itself. It is important that if you or your children or other members of your family have the symptoms, they have a full dental examination as soon as possible.

Although sometimes genetics can cause the upper and lower teeth to not close properly, the most common reasons are years of excessive sucking on a thumb, pacifier, or bottle, constant thrusting of the tongue against the teeth, and sucking the lower lip. Often this is due to discomfort with the bite to begin with, but more serious problems can develop by such pressure that causes the teeth and even the jaw to move.

The most common symptoms are difficulty biting, chewing, or swallowing food, pain when chewing, digestive problems, a lisp or some other speech impediment, and even a less-pronounced chin than normal. An open bite can also interfere with sleep and cause snoring.

If the bad habits persist, they can dislocate the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the hinge on both sides of the face in front of the lower part of the ears, which you can feel moving if you place your fingers there and open and close your mouth. TMJ Disorder (TMJD) is often indicated by a popping or clicking sound and sometimes the jaw may seem locked shut or open. Headaches are a common system, as are soreness around the jaw and side of the face.

Fortunately, an open bite can be treated as early as seven years, when permanent teeth are coming in and the jaw is malleable (adults are harder to treat, but these issues can be solved):

°We can advise on behavior modification if a child’s habits are persisting past two or three. 

°A plastic dental appliance can be made to limit the tongue’s ability to push the front teeth.

°Invisalign orthodontic trays can be customized, which will be changed as the correction evolves. These are nearly invisible and can be removed before eating, so do not have the disadvantages of traditional braces. A colored dot also indicates whether a child is wearing them when not eating, so you can monitor compliance. After Invisalign treatment, a retainer is worn for a prescribed time to make sure the changes are made permanent.

°In severe cases of open bite, jaw surgery may be required.

The importance of preventing or correcting an open bite is that periodontal disease will be avoided, problems with chewing will be fixed, pain stopped, and the jaw can be maintained in its proper place, 

If you believe you or a family member of any age may be suffering from an open bite or some other misalignment, set an appointment today for a full dental exam and to discuss your best options.

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