How your teeth meet and align when you close your bite is known as occlusion. Ideally, your teeth should match up against each other perfectly with your upper teeth resting just slightly above your lower teeth and the top surface of your molars lining up when you close your jaw.

However, teeth do not always match up as expected, leading to a condition known as malocclusion. One common type of malocclusion is an open bite, popularly known as misaligned teeth. In this article, we are going to look at how to fix an open bite in Malta, including its causes and how to prevent it.

What Is An Open Bite?

When a patient has an open bite, their upper and lower front teeth do not come together when they close their mouth. This results in an opening between the rows of teeth. An open bite not only affects the appearance of your smile, but it can also cause difficulty with speaking leading to different types of speech impediments like lisp.

What Are The Leading Causes Of Open Bite?

Three different factors contribute to an open bite and misalignment of teeth;

Jawbone Problems

Jawbone problems like TMJ – temporomandibular joint disorder – can cause an open bite. The patient may experience chronic pain in the jaw whenever they try to close their bite. Hence, they may resort to pushing their tongue against the teeth to set them apart to put their jaw in a better soothing position.

A Mix Of Both Milk Teeth And Permanent Teeth In Children

When children have a combination of permanent and deciduous teeth, the teeth will not be able to close up well until they have lost all their baby teeth and grown all their adult teeth.

Personal Habits

A person’s habit can cause an open bite. For instance, people who adopt the tongue thrusting habit tend to develop an open bite. Tongue thrusting occurs when you push your tongue through your teeth when speaking or swallowing. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, this habit is more rampant during early childhood. However, most children grow out of it. Those who don’t may develop issues with their speech and bite.

Other habits that cause an open bite include;

  • Thumb sucking. According to the New Zealand Association of Orthodontist, at least 50% of people suck their thumb in early childhood. However, the habit only becomes an issue if it continues even after the permanent teeth have grown or when the child has a mix of milk and adult teeth.
  • Chewing on foreign objects like the ends of a pen or pencil
  • Improper bottle or pacifier use

Types Of Open Bite

Anterior Open Bite

This occurs when teeth biting together do not overlap between the opposing teeth. This condition is commonly caused by tongue thrusting.

Posterior Open Bite

This happens when your upper and lower anterior teeth touch when you close your bite, creating a space between your back teeth.

Incomplete Overbite

This often occurs when the lower set of front teeth does not touch the upper set of front teeth.

Treatment Options

A study by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics indicates that an open bite can be harder to treat than treating any other type of misaligned teeth.

Managing An Open Bite Caused By A Mix Of Baby And Permanent Teeth

When an open bite occurs in children with a mix of baby and permanent teeth, the problem can sometimes correct itself as the child loses baby teeth and more permanent ones erupt.

Related Reading: Child Dental Care In Malta : Frequently Asked Questions

Treating An Open Bite Caused By Jawbone Issues

An open bite caused by a skeletal issue like a jawbone that does not fit together may require orthodontic surgery. The surgeon performing the procedure will need to remove a portion of your upper jaw to allow realigning of the jaw bones for better-aligned teeth.

There are different orthodontic devices that can also be used to correct the opening in your bite. For instance, a dental appliance may help keep your tongue from pushing or forcing its way through the teeth. A special headgear can help position your jaw as well as correct your bite.

Fortunately, there is a wide array of treatment options available for an open bite. These treatment methods depend on various factors, including:

  • Surgery is recommended for fully grown patients
  • Orthodontics are recommended for children or teenagers

occlusion treatment in malta at savina dental clinics

How To Avoid An Open Bite

Since this condition is caused by a variety of factors, absolute prevention may not be possible. However, there are some things that you can do to minimise your risk of developing this biting problem.

Avoid Thumb Sucking Or Tongue Thrusting Habits

These habits tend to develop at a young age. Parents are advised to watch over their children and try to help them break these habits. Once they stop, the open bite tends to resolve on its own, although it might take a few years.

Consider correcting the problem early before it advances. It will help prevent complications that may make surgery your only resort to fixing the open bite.

What Happens If You Do Not Treat An Open Bite?

This is one of the most common questions that we receive about this condition. If you do not treat an open bite;

  • It might affect your smile. Having a crooked smile can be embarrassing enough. But suffering from an open bite can take away your confidence and self-esteem.
  • If not treated, there is a high likelihood that you may develop a lisp. A lisp will affect not only your speech but also the effectiveness of your words when you speak.
  • In severe cases, an untreated open bit can inhibit you from chewing your food properly. Also, food and drinks may easily seep out of your tongue.

Since an open bite causes the back teeth to overlap more than necessary, it may cause them to wear out. Ultimately, this may lead to acute pain while chewing and may even cause other dental issues.

Have You Tried Our Free e-Consultation Service?

If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in travelling to Malta for a dental holiday or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

If you would like to schedule an in-person consultation at Savina Dental, please book your appointment using this form.

Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.