Clear Aligners Guide

What is Open Bite? Its Causes and Treatment Options.

An open bite is a dental condition where the upper and lower teeth do not meet properly. This common issue varies in severity, affecting individuals of all ages, from children to adults. The degree of severity dictates the available treatment options.

This article will provide a brief overview of the causes of an open bite and the available treatment choices.

What is Open Bite?

An open bite is a dental condition characterized by improper alignment so that either front or back teeth fail to occlude. It occurs when the jaw undergoes abnormal development, leading to protrusion of both jaws and lack of teeth overlapping. This misalignment, known as the open bite, can be an anterior or posterior open bite and can result in issues like speech impediments, difficulty eating, and even changes in facial structure. Various factors, such as genetics, oral habits like thumb sucking, mouth breathing or improper jaw alignment during tooth eruption, can contribute to the development of an open bite.

In most instances, addressing an open bite requires treatment to restore proper teeth alignment. Dental braces are commonly recommended as they gradually realign mispositioned teeth. In severe cases where one or both jaws are significantly displaced, orthogenetic surgery may be necessary to correct the condition.

What are the signs of an Open Bite?

An open bite can lead to aesthetic concerns and hinder speech and eating abilities. Recognizing the signs of an open bite is crucial to seeking timely treatment and preventing potential complications.

Signs of an Open Bite Include:

  • Speech challenges, such as a lisp
  • Inability to bring upper and lower teeth into contact
  • Challenges biting food with front teeth, along with chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Improper alignment of teeth
  • Less-prominent chin
  • Lips incompetency
  • Mouth breathing

What Causes an Open Bite?

An open bite can be caused by several different factors, ranging from genetics to bad habits. Learn more about them below:

1.      Genetics

Though the specific origins of an open bite can differ among individuals, studies indicate that genetics may exert a considerable influence.

Genetic factors are recognized as a significant contributor to the development of an open bite disorder. Specific genetic traits may instigate developmental alterations in facial shape and positioning, leading to an open bite malocclusion. Conditions like Crouzon syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS), Turner syndrome or macroglossia, characterized by genetic abnormalities affecting the facial structure, elevate the risk of open bite. Furthermore, individuals may inherit general jawbone misalignment from their parents, contributing to the onset of this dental condition.

2.      Bad oral habits such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking

Tongue thrusting, thumb sucking and overuse of pacifiers are primary contributors to open bites in children. Tongue thrusting involves the tongue pushing against or between the teeth during swallowing, gradually impacting the bite pattern. Similarly, prolonged thumb-sucking in young children can lead to the forward movement of front teeth, disrupting their proper alignment and preventing them from meeting when the mouth is closed.

Other Causes

Additional factors contributing to an open bite include:

  • Insufficient room for the proper emergence of mature teeth
  • Incorrect swallowing patterns
  • Poor tongue posture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder or other persistent dental/jaw discomfort

What are the Types of Open Bite?

1. Dental Open Bite

Dental open bite, a form of malocclusion, impacts the functionality and aesthetics of the front teeth. This condition arises when the upper and lower incisors do not properly overlap during biting. The degree of severity in an open bite varies, ranging from mild to severe, based on the amount of space between the upper and lower front teeth. The underlying cause is teeth, not jaws.

●       Anterior Open Bite

An anterior open bite refers to a dental condition wherein the upper and lower front teeth fail to make contact when the mouth is closed. This form of open bite exhibits varying causes and degrees of severity, ranging from affecting a limited area of the front teeth to involving the majority or all of them.

Diagnosing an anterior open bite involves examining the relationship between the upper and lower front teeth when the mouth is shut. If there exists an excessive gap between these teeth – even when all other teeth align correctly – it indicates an anterior open bite. It’s worth noting that some individuals may compensate for this issue by intentionally moving their lower jaw forward when closing their mouth, making the gap less visible.

●       Posterior Open Bite

Posterior open bite, a form of malocclusion, impacts the back teeth on both sides of the mouth. This condition is characterized by an abnormal gap between the posterior upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed, with the front teeth making contact while the back teeth do not. Various factors, such as genetics, improper jaw growth, or habits like thumb-sucking, can contribute to the development of this type of open bite.

Early detection of a posterior open bite is crucial, as untreated cases can lead to difficulties in speech and eating. Common indicators include challenges in fully closing the mouth, premature wear on front teeth due to the absence of contact with opposing back teeth, and potential jaw joint pain stemming from misalignment. It also happens when posterior teeth are naturally intruded.

2. Skeletal Open Bite

A skeletal open bite is a malocclusion characterized by improper alignment of the upper and lower jaw, leading to a gap between the upper and lower teeth when biting down either front or back. This condition results from an imbalance in the growth of the maxilla (upper jaw) and mandible (lower jaw), causing either underdevelopment or overdevelopment of the jaw. There are two classifications of skeletal open bite: anterior skeletal open bite and posterior skeletal open bite.

Both types of skeletal open bites can pose challenges in chewing, speaking, and swallowing and may also raise aesthetic concerns due to visible gaps between teeth that fail to close properly during biting.

Why Treat an Open Bite?

Addressing an open bite is a crucial consideration for individuals affected by this condition, as it can have a substantial impact on their overall quality of life. Treating an open bite can yield various benefits, including:

  • Enhanced pronunciation leading to improved speech
  • A more pleasing appearance for aesthetic purposes
  • Improved functionality for eating
  • Protection of other teeth from excessive wear and tear

What Are the Treatment Options for Open Bite?

There are five different treatment options for Open Bite.

1.      Braces

Orthodontic braces represent a widely employed treatment solution for open bite, a malocclusion characterized by a lack of proper alignment between the upper and lower teeth during biting. Open bites can impede jaw alignment and create challenges in activities like speaking and eating.

Braces work by applying gradual pressure to the teeth through brackets, wires, and bands, facilitating a progressive shift into the desired alignment. Treatment duration varies based on the severity of the open bite and the patient’s age, with adults often requiring more extensive treatments due to changes in bone density. Orthodontists may also suggest supplementary interventions like TADs and elastics to retract teeth for optimal results.

2.      Clear Aligners

Clear aligners offer an excellent solution for individuals seeking a discreet and comfortable method to address their open bite. These custom-made plastic aligners are tailored to each patient’s unique requirements, fitting snugly over the teeth. Over time, they gradually realign the teeth into the correct position, in case of an open bite, we use the elastic button technique to retract.

The aligners are designed to be removable, allowing patients to maintain their regular daily activities, such as eating or brushing their teeth, without disruption during treatment. Notably, clear aligners are far less conspicuous than traditional metal braces, making them an ideal choice for adults seeking subtle correction of their open bite without drawing excessive attention.

3.      Oral Surgery

For individuals with an open bite, oral surgeries to correct jaw discrepancy, known as orthognathic surgery, prove to be a more efficient and less time-consuming option compared to braces. When contemplating oral surgery as a treatment choice, it is crucial to grasp the procedure and its potential risks.

In broad terms, the surgical correction of an open bite entails the removal of excess bone and gum tissue to reposition the jaw into an ideal alignment. This process may also include the reshaping of existing teeth or the grafting of new bone tissue onto the jawbone to address any misalignments in the jaw joint. You may still need fixed orthodontic treatment or clear aligners before or after orthognathic surgery.

4.      Veneers

Veneers are slender porcelain shells created to enhance the appearance and function of teeth by covering their surfaces. In open bite correction using veneers, these shells are custom-designed for each tooth to ensure proper alignment and restore the typical relationship between upper and lower incisors during biting. This correction approach delivers natural-looking results while offering enduring stability for enhanced overall dental health. However, veneers may be helpful when a few anterior teeth are in an open bite, but not in any other case.

Final Thoughts

If you’re dealing with an open bite, we trust that our blog post has provided valuable insights. Given the varied causes of an open bite, it’s crucial to consult with your doctor or orthodontist to explore the specific cause and available treatment options for your case. We aim to enhance your understanding of open bites and empower you with information on potential treatments.

SA Aligners is one of the best aligners providers in the USA. Book your one-to-one free session with a dental expert to get advice on teeth straightening treatment. You can start your treatment by buying the SA Aligners Impression Kit at just $49. For further details, visit or call (315) 526 1915.


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