Normally, your upper teeth rest slightly over your lower teeth when you close your mouth or chew. According to Medline Plus, the points of your upper molars should fit the groves of your lower molars. Problems with your bite or the way your teeth fit together are called "malocclusions." Specifically, retrognathism, or an open bite, occurs when your upper teeth extend further than your lower teeth. Your overbite can be slightly noticeable or extreme. In the latter case, your bottom jaw appears smaller than your top jaw. There are treatments to correct your open bite.
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Know the reasons. Your open bite could be the result of childhood habits, for example, if you sucked your thumb as a child, used a pacifier after 3 years of age or drank from a baby bottle too long. Other reasons for your open bite include tongue thrusting and hereditary. With tongue thrusting, your tongue literally causes your front teeth to shift forward via constant pushing. For example, as you sleep, your tongue presses against you front teeth.
Use braces. The goal of you and your orthodontist is to eliminate your open bite. Dental braces are placed on your teeth to achieve this goal. Then, small rubber bands are connected to the braces to pull your upper teeth back into correct alignment. Braces, available in plastic or ceramic, in addition to metal, are attached to the front or back of your teeth. If you'd rather not use metal braces, there is an alternative. A series of aligners, which resembles a mouth guard or retainer, can be used instead. Aligners will work the same as metal braces and eliminate your open bite.
Undergo surgery. If your open bite is not the result of childhood habits but rather skeletal problems with your jaw, surgery is needed. Your surgeon will relocate your jaw further up or back. In this surgery, your surgeon reshapes or lengthens your jaw, which is known as "orthognathic surgery," according to Medline Plus.
Tips and warnings
- If your open bite is complicated by overcrowding of your teeth, then you may need to undergo tooth extractions to remove some. In addition, any other complications, such as irregular-shaped, chipped or decayed teeth, will have to be corrected too.
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