Straightening Things Out – A Guide To Treating Open Bite From Braces To Surgery

Open bite is a dental condition that can have a significant impact on your oral health. It occurs when your upper and lower teeth don't touch or overlap when your mouth is closed.

If left untreated , open bite can contribute to a range of functional problems, including difficulty speaking, excessive mouth breathing,1 gum inflammation,2 and issues chewing common foods.3 Open bites also have negative effects on facial and smile esthetics.

Open bites can be caused by a range of factors, including tongue thrusting, digit sucking, mouth breathing, genetics (jaw growth), poor oral habits, and jaw injuries. Treatment options may include braces, clear aligners such as Invisalign® aligners, or other orthodontic or surgical interventions, depending on the severity of the condition.

Open Bite: What You Need to Know About the Causes

Genetic Factors:4 It is not uncommon for open bite to run in families, as certain physical traits that contribute to the condition may be inherited. For instance, a child may inherit a type of downward growth pattern of the lower jaw from one or both parents, which may lead to an open bite.5

Poor Oral Habits:6 Habits such as thumb sucking can cause an open bite by putting pressure on the front teeth, and facilitating excessive eruption of the back teeth, causing misalignment and open bite. It is important to identify these habits early on and address them to prevent them from worsening open bite.

Jaw Disorders or Injuries:7 Disorders and injuries such as fractures or a dislocated jaw, can also lead to open bite. A fracture is a break in a bone, and a dislocation is when a bone is out of place. If the jaw is fractured or dislocated, it can cause the teeth to not align properly.

Airway and/or Breathing Problems:1 If a person has difficulty breathing through their nose, they may develop a habit of breathing through their mouth. This can cause the tongue to rest in the wrong position, leading to open bite. In addition, conditions such as sleep apnea, which cause interruptions in breathing during sleep, can also contribute to open bite.

Treatment Options for Open Bite

When it comes to treating open bite, there are several treatment options available. Two of the most popular options are braces and clear aligners, such as Invisalign® aligners. Understanding the differences between these treatments is important when deciding which one is right for you.

Treatment for open bite with an orthodontist typically involves an initial consultation to evaluate the severity of your open bite and discuss treatment options. From there, a personalized treatment plan will be created to correct the open bite in your mouth.

Traditional Metal Braces: Work by applying pressure to your teeth to gradually shift them into the correct position. Braces consist of brackets that are attached to each tooth, which are then connected by wires and rubber bands. Periodic adjustments are scheduled to change the dimensions of the wires to gradually move the teeth.

Lingual Braces: Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces but are placed on the back of your teeth instead of the front. This makes them less visible but can be more difficult to clean and, in some cases, may irritate the tongue.

Ceramic Braces: Ceramic braces are similar to traditional metal braces, but the brackets are made of a clear or tooth-colored material, making them less noticeable. They function similarly to traditional metal braces. Like metal and lingual braces, there are dietary restrictions in place when being treated with ceramic braces. Specifically, one cannot eat any sticky, chewy or hard foods.

Clear Aligners: Clear aligners, like Invisalign aligners, use a series of clear plastic aligners to gradually shift teeth into the correct position. Invisalign aligners are customized to fit your teeth and are worn for a period of time before being replaced with the next aligner in the series. Invisalign aligners are popular with many patients because they are virtually invisible and can be easily removed for eating and brushing, making them a popular choice for many patients. Because Invisalign aligners can be removed, there are no dietary restrictions necessary when being treated with Invisalign aligners.

Jaw Surgery: Jaw surgery may be necessary for individuals with more severe cases of open bite which are caused by jaw position rather than tooth position.8 The procedure involves surgically repositioning your jaw to correct the bite. It can be effective but is also invasive and may require a long recovery time. Jaw surgery is done in conjunction with orthodontic treatment.

Working with Your Orthodontist on Your Open Bite

There are several steps involved in the orthodontic treatment process. The initial consultation and examination are the first step, during which time the orthodontist will examine your teeth and jaw, take X-rays and photographs, and discuss your treatment goals. This is where you can ask any questions you have and decide if the orthodontist is a good fit for you. If you opt for clear aligners, such as Invisalign aligners, the orthodontist will take a digital scan of your teeth to create a customized treatment plan.

The orthodontist will then develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs and goals, taking into account factors such as the severity of your open bite, the alignment of your teeth, smile and facial esthetics, and the length of the treatment.

Once the treatment plan is established, the orthodontic treatment process can begin. If you opt for traditional braces, the orthodontist will bond brackets to your teeth and connect them with wires. Clear aligners, such as Invisalign aligners, will be worn for at least 22 hours a day, and replaced with a new set of aligners in accordance with your orthodontist’s instructions. Throughout the treatment process, adjustments and check-ups will be necessary to ensure the teeth are moving as planned.

As the treatment progresses, the orthodontist will monitor the progress of your open bite and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

Tips for Success to Fix Your Open Bite

Following your orthodontist's instructions during and after treatment ensures the best possible outcome. Maintaining good oral hygiene is also essential during treatment to prevent any complications for your dental health. This includes brushing twice a day and flossing daily.

Being patient and committed to the treatment plan is crucial to achieving the desired results. Orthodontic treatment can take time, but it is important to trust the process and stay committed to the treatment plan prescribed by your orthodontist.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website are for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek the advice of your health care provider with any questions you may have regarding any dental or medical-related condition and never disregard or delay seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.

Wonder if Invisalign treatment is right for you?

  1. American Association of Orthodontists. 7 Common Bite Problems in Children and Adults. ( Accessed 6/20/23
  2. Kolawole & Folayan. (2019 Nov 27) Association between malocclusion, caries, and oral hygiene in children 6 to 12 years old resident in suburban Nigeria BMC Oral Health.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Malocclusion. ( Accessed 6/25/23
  4. Huang W et al. (2020 Jun 25) Review of Etiology of Posterior Open Bite: Is There a Possible Genetic Cause? Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry. Kumar D et al. (2022 Jan) Genetic Influence on Open Bite: A Case Report International Journal of Science and Research.
  5. Colgate. What Is An Open Bite? ( Accessed 6/24/23
  6. Frothingham, S. (2018 May 15) Open Bite Healthline.
  7. Cleveland Clinic. Dislocated Jaw. ( Accessed 6/27/23
  8. Mayo Clinic. Jaw Surgery. ( Accessed 8/21/23