What is Open Bite – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

open bite

Open Bite - What Is it? How To Diagnose, Treatment Methods, and More

One common dental condition requiring orthodontic treatment is an open bite. Open bite is one kind of malocclusion or “bad bite”: when the top and bottom teeth don’t touch each other when the mouth is fully closed, showing an opening between the top and bottom teeth. Open bite could occur in the front or in the back of the mouth, although a frontal open bite is much more common.

In a proper bite, the rows of upper and lower teeth should connect all the way across, with the upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth slightly when the mouth is fully closed.

With an open bite, the upper and lower teeth do not make contact in the front or back of the mouth, even when the jaw is shut.

This guide will help you understand open bites: what they are, why they happen, and how to treat them. This FAQ will answer any questions you may have about open bites.

What is an Open Bite?

An open bite occurs when the top and bottom teeth do not touch at the front or back of the mouth when the jaw is fully shut, leaving a space between them. Open bites are a form of malocclusion, or “bad bite”: a variety of dental issues that cause the teeth to align improperly, causing problems when biting down, and a host of other related issues, including pain, oral hygiene issues, and tooth and gum decay.

An open bite can be complex to treat, but a skilled, licensed orthodontist will be able to correct this condition with a variety of braces and Invisalign treatment types. If you have an open bite, seek a doctor who can help correct it, giving you a healthy smile and a proper bite.

What Are the Causes of an Open Bite?

There are two underlying causes for an open bite: skeletal, or dental – sometimes the problem is caused by both.

  • 1Genetics

    Skeletal causes originate in bone growth, inherited in genes passed down through your family.

  • 2Bad Oral Habits

    Dental causes stem from bad oral habits that interrupt the proper direction of dental development:

    - Thumb sucking
    - Lower lip sucking
    - Tongue-thrusting

    Open Bite Jocelyn Thumb Sucking Effects Open Bite Thumb Sucking Effects

  • 3Other Causes
    • Improper swallowing pattern
    • Poor tongue posture
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), or other chronic dental/jaw pain
    • Traumas to the jaw
    • Lack of space for adult teeth to erupt
    • Other dental-related issues

    Whatever the cause, an open bite can be corrected with careful supervision from an orthodontist. Expert orthodontists are skilled at treating this kind of dental issue, using clinically-proven methods including braces and Invisalign.

What Are the Signs of an Open Bite?

The most noticeable sign of an open bite is an inability to entirely close your mouth so that your front or back teeth don’t touch on the top and bottom.

Other signs you might have an open bite or another malocclusion:

  • Inability to make contact with upper and lower teeth
  • Problems with chewing or swallowing
  • Less-pronounced chin
  • Speech problems, such as a lisp
  • Improper teeth alignment
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Difficulties biting food with the front teeth
  • Unattractive smile
open bite thumbnail

Diagnosing an Open Bite

If you have concerns about your bite, it’s very important to visit a licensed orthodontist, in a specialized orthodontist’s office, for him or her to examine your teeth and bite. The orthodontist will provide a diagnosis, using x-rays and/or 3D-imaging as well as in-person examination.

The x-rays will allow your orthodontist to see what’s below the gum line to examine the open bite and determine its causes. Once you have a diagnosis, the orthodontist will go over treatment options for your case. Together, you will decide the best course of action to treat your particular malocclusion.

Is an Open Bite Bad For Your Teeth?

Yes. An open bite can cause complications for your teeth, mouth, and overall bodily health, not to mention an unattractive smile.

A malocclusion like an open bite gets worse over time, which increases the chances of problems like gum disease, or excessive wear and tear of the load-bearing teeth.

Other problems associated with an open

  • Speech impediments, such as a lisp
  • Lack of confidence/embarrassment with your smile
  • Problems or pain with chewing or biting
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)
  • Headaches and earaches
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Snoring
  • Gum and periodontal disease
  • Tooth decay from excessive bacteria growth
  • Digestive issues from trouble chewing

Due to these associated problems, it’s important to address an open bite as soon as possible. Children with an open bite should get an orthodontic evaluation at age 7 when the front adult teeth have fully erupted. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children see an orthodontist for a consultation at age 7.

Adults, too, can achieve excellent results with braces or Invisalign treatment from an expert, licensed orthodontist. It’s never too late to correct dental issues and straighten your teeth.

How to Treat an Open Bite

Once you visit the orthodontist for a comprehensive exam and diagnosis, you can discuss treatment options. Expert orthodontists can treat open bites with a variety of treatments; they will offer a professional recommendation based on your specific diagnosis and needs.

Be sure to seek an expert opinion from a licensed orthodontist in a specialized orthodontic practice, who can provide cutting-edge technology and is up-to-date with all treatment modalities.

braces patient with open bite

Braces

Braces are an effective, convenient, and affordable method for correcting an open bite when used in the hands of an expert orthodontic provider. There are several braces options, including metal, ceramic, and lingual (Incognito®) braces – depending on your diagnosis, your orthodontist may be able to treat you with any of these tools. Braces are extremely reliable, easy to maintain, and create beautiful results: many people have corrected their open bites with braces.

invisalign open bite

Invisalign Clear Aligners

Invisalign treatment is another option for closing open bites. Invisalign treatment is effective and convenient when used by an experienced doctor. They have gained popularity for treating a wide variety of orthodontic issues, and can successfully correct open bites for teenagers and adults alike.

Compared to traditional braces, Invisalign has proved to be more effective for treating open bites, so long as it is used as a tool by an expert orthodontist. Seek treatment from a highly credentialed orthodontist: Diamond Plus or Diamond Invisalign Providers have the most experience with this treatment technique and can provide the highest-quality care, as well as lower prices and faster treatment times.

Open Bite Oral Surgery Before and After

Oral Surgery

For some severe cases of open bite, oral surgery might be necessary: this is rare, and only for very complex cases that cannot be treated by orthodontic intervention alone. If your case requires surgery, your orthodontist will refer you to an oral surgeon. Oral surgery and orthodontic care together can achieve the optimal results for these severe open bites.

Retainers

Retainers

Retainers are used as a protective measure after other orthodontic treatments: whether you get braces or Invisalign, your orthodontist will provide you with a set of retainers to keep your smile in place and your open bite from coming back. It’s very important to wear your retainers as instructed by your orthodontist to maintain the results of your orthodontic care.

Frequently Asked Questions About Open Bite

  • 1How Common is an Open Bite?

    An open bite, where the top and bottom teeth do not connect properly when the jaw is shut, is a relatively rare dental complaint. It occurs in an estimated 0.6% of people in the United States. Orthodontic intervention by an expert, licensed orthodontist using braces or Invisalign can successfully treat even complex open bites.

  • 2Does Open Bite Require Surgery?

    Only in very severe cases will an open bite require oral surgery. Usually, it can be corrected with regular orthodontic intervention, such as braces or Invisalign. Your orthodontist will do a full comprehensive examination, including x-rays or 3D imaging, to assess your bite and determine the proper treatment.

  • 3What Does an Open Bite Look Like?

    An open bite is a form of orthodontic malocclusion – or “bad bite” – in which the top and bottom teeth do not overlap and don't touch properly when the jaw is closed, leaving a gap between the top and bottom rows of teeth even when the mouth is closed.

    To determine whether you have an open bite, look in the mirror, bite down gently, and smile to show your teeth while looking straight at your reflection. If there is a space between your top and bottom teeth, you likely have an open bite. Consult an orthodontist for further examination.

  • 4How is an Open Bite Treated?

    In the majority of cases, an open bite can be corrected using regular orthodontic therapy by an expert doctor. Braces or Invisalign are both excellent, effective options for straightening an open bite, provided you seek a licensed, experienced professional.

    In severe cases, your doctor may refer you for oral surgery to supplement your orthodontic care. The key to effective treatment is an experienced professional orthodontist in a specialized practice.

  • 5Can a Nightguard Cause an Open Bite?

    A Nightguard, or nighttime mouthguard, is used to help people stop grinding their teeth or locking their jaw while they sleep. In some cases, it can cause teeth to shift over time, which could start to cause an open bite.

    If you wear a nightguard for teeth grinding and have concerns about your teeth shifting, consult your orthodontist for a diagnosis.

  • 6Does Open Bite Get Worse Over Time?

    Yes, absolutely. Any untreated orthodontic malocclusion such as an open bite will get worse over time. It is very important to seek an experienced orthodontist who can correct your open bite as soon as possible, to prevent further damage to the teeth and gums, as well as prevent pain or discomfort chewing, biting, or swallowing.

    For children with open bites, early intervention – as early as age 7 – will lead to the longest-lasting, most effective results.

  • 7Do You Have to Correct an Open Bite?

    Absolutely, it is important to correct an open bite because it will get worse over time. Properly aligned teeth are more than cosmetic: they are the gateway to a healthy mouth and a healthy overall body.

    Untreated open bites can cause pain or discomfort with chewing, biting, and swallowing; problems sleeping; tooth decay or periodontal disease, gum and tooth loss, and more. For all of these reasons, it’s very important to seek treatment from an expert orthodontist to treat an open bite.

  • 8Will an Open Bite Correct Itself?

    No, an open bite will not correct itself. It actually will get worse over time, requiring more invasive treatment methods. Don’t wait for an open bite to correct itself: it will not happen. Seek a licensed, experienced orthodontist who can treat your condition effectively, with lasting results, using treatments like braces or Invisalign therapy.

  • 9Can Thumb-Sucking Cause an Open Bite?

    Yes, thumb-sucking is a common cause of open bites. Any habit that pushes the teeth out of alignment over time can cause an open bite: thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, or poor swallowing patterns can all cause an open bite.

  • 10Can an Open Bite Cause a Lisp?

    Yes, an open bite can create speech impediments like lisping. The improper closure of the top and bottom teeth can cause difficulties in speaking and articulating. Treatment of an open bite can help correct a lisp, although further speech therapy may also be necessary.

  • 11Can You Correct an Open Bite in Adults?

    Absolutely! Expert, licensed orthodontists can correct open bites in adults. Open bite treatment in adults can require complex treatment, but it can be very successful if supervised by an experienced orthodontist.

    Orthodontists use both braces and Invisalign to close open bites in adults. Many orthodontists find Invisalign to be more effective for closing open bites, as well as more comfortable for the patient.

Treating an Open Bite: Before and After

Brittanny, 30 Years Old, with Open Bite: Before and After Invisalign Treatment

open bite before and after invisalign treatment  years old female front view

Frequently Asked Questions About Treating Open Bite With Invisalign Clear Aligners

  • 1Can You Correct an Open Bite with Invisalign?

    Experienced orthodontists are skilled at treating open bites with Invisalign clear aligners. Invisalign clear aligners may achieve better results for open bites when compared to braces. Invisalign clear aligners are comfortable, easy to use, and highly effective. They offer a discreet treatment method for correcting an open bite, with nearly invisible clear braces that subtly adjust the teeth into their correct positions.

    Seek a highly-experienced Invisalign orthodontist: Diamond Plus or Diamond Invisalign Providers have the most experience and thus can provide the most reliable results in treating open bites with Invisalign clear aligners.

    Can You Correct an Open Bite with Invisalign
  • 2How Does Invisalign Correct an Open Bite?

    An expert, licensed orthodontist is uniquely skilled in correcting an open bite with Invisalign. To begin, your orthodontist will take 3D iTero scans of your teeth and bite, as well as x-rays. Your expert orthodontist custom-designs each clear aligner and attachment, based on a modeling system to accurately predict how to close your bite. You’ll wear a series of custom-designed aligners to slowly adjust your teeth into their correct positions.

    Seek an experienced doctor with years of Invisalign experience: Diamond Plus or Diamond Invisalign Providers have the most experience treating conditions with open bite and thus can produce the most effective, lasting results.

  • 3How Long Does It Take to Close an Open Bite with Invisalign?

    Everyone’s treatment is unique based on their specific diagnosis and the skill of their doctor, but an expert Invisalign provider can generally correct an open bite in 12-24 months.

    When treating an open bite with Invisalign, be sure to find an experienced orthodontist in an accredited, dedicated orthodontist's office, not a general dentist. Diamond Plus or Diamond Invisalign Providers are the most expert orthodontists with the greatest amount of Invisalign experience.

    Orthodontists receive special training to straighten teeth, and dedicated orthodontic offices have higher volumes and access to a wide array of instruments and technology, which can make treatment times faster and lower your costs.

  • 4How Much Does it Cost to Correct an Open Bite with Invisalign?

    Treatment costs to correct an open bite depend on the specifics of your case. Invisalign costs anywhere from $2,650 to $9,000, depending on the severity of your diagnosis, where you go for treatment, and where you live.

    When finding an Invisalign provider, do your research: make sure you’re choosing an experienced orthodontist in an actual office, rather than cutting corners with teledentistry and mail-order aligners. These brands do not actually save you money and can fail to correct your open bite, or in some cases, make it worse.

  • 5Are Invisalign Aligners or Braces Better for Correcting an Open Bite?

    Whatever treatment you choose, remember that the key to any effective treatment for your open bite is an experienced, licensed orthodontist. Their skill is what makes both braces and Invisalign treatment work. Expert doctors can produce excellent results with both braces and Invisalign. Invisalign has been found to be more effective for closing open bites. Braces may be more cost-effective and may be fully covered by insurance depending on your provider.

    They are extremely reliable, effective, and comfortable. Invisalign treatment is more effective than braces when treating open bites, with better results: many patients also prefer Invisalign treatment for its comfortability, ease of use, and discreet appearance.  Both treatments, however, are effective for closing an open bite, as long as they are used by a licensed, experienced orthodontist.

Frequently Asked Questions About Treating Open Bite With Braces

  • 1Can You Correct an Open Bite with Braces?

    An experienced orthodontist can correct an open bite with braces. Metal or ceramic braces are both great treatment options for correcting an open bite, so long as they are supervised in-office by a licensed, experienced doctor. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the best treatment for you. Orthodontists have helped many people correct their open bites with braces!

  • 2How Long Does It Take to Close an Open Bite with Braces?

    It depends on the specific of your case and the skill of your orthodontist, but most braces treatments for closing an open bite take about 12-24 months. Be sure to seek an expert orthodontist for the best results.

  • 3How Much Does It Cost to Correct an Open Bite with Braces?

    The price varies with the specifics of your case, the provider you select, and what else needs to be treated along with the open bite. Generally, you can expect to pay between $1,800 and $7,000 for treatment with braces for an open bite.

    Make sure to select an orthodontist who works in a dedicated orthodontic practice: they will have more experience with straightening teeth and knowledge about how to correct an open bite. They will also have access to the highest-quality orthodontic instruments and technology. Their prices will also be lower due to a higher volume of orthodontic patients, rather than a wide variety of dental cases as in a general dentist’s office.

  • 4Can You Correct an Open Bite at Home?

    No. Orthodontists strongly discourage attempting to close an open bite at home. Orthodontists study for years to learn how to properly align teeth and create healthy smiles: trying at-home techniques can seriously damage your teeth.

    Similarly, getting your open bite treated with teledentistry can have serious consequences for your smile. Many thousands of complaints have been filed against mail-order teledentistry brands for failing to produce results, or for creating worse problems with the teeth and gums.

    For the most reliable results, you should seek an in-office, experienced orthodontist to correct your open bite.

  • 5How do Braces Correct an Open Bite?

    To treat your open bite, an expert orthodontist will attach brackets to your teeth and place a flexible wire across them. The wire links the brackets and provides the force that moves the teeth slowly and safely into place, bringing your teeth into their proper positions and closing your bite.

    Your orthodontist may also use rubber bands, which help direct the movement and advance the teeth into their correct position.

    Moving teeth requires years of training: be sure to choose an experienced orthodontist who is equipped with the tools and skill needed to expertly correct your open bite.

  • 1Sources:

    American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) - 7 Common Bite Problems in Children and Adults
    https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/7-common-bite-problems/

    Open bite - What you need to know about transforming your smile with Invisalign® treatment.
    https://www.invisalign.com/treatable-cases/open-bite

    The Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy - Lateral open bite: Treatment and stability (PDF)
    https://aomtinfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Case-Report-Lateral-Open-Bite-Treatment-Stability-OMT-Essential-Cabrera-USP-Brazil-AJO-DO-2011.pdf

    American Academy Of Pediatric Dentistry - Open bite: a review of etiology and management (PDF)
    https://www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/publications/archives/ngan-19-02.pdf

    National Institutes of Health - Nonsurgical treatment and stability of an adult with a severe anterior open-bite malocclusion
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5952238/