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Open Bite - Symptoms, Causes And Dental Treatments

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Last Reviewed 03 July 2024

Medically reviewed by Dr. Paul O'Connell, Bachelor Dent. Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) 2004, Practice Limited to Orthodontics

Table of Contents

Open bites are common dental conditions where the upper and lower teeth don't meet when the mouth closes, resulting in a visible gap.

Dr. Paul O'Connell

Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental

Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental

Common causes of open bite include:

  • A misalignment of the jaw and teeth
  • Childhood behaviours
  • Genetic factors
  • Jaw trauma 

While open bites can cause ongoing aesthetic and functional problems, dental treatments can correct alignment issues and transform your smile.

What Is An Open Bite?

There are different types of open bites to be aware of, with the most common being anterior and posterior open bites.

We've explained the different types here:

Anterior Open BiteIf your front teeth and upper and lower incisors don't meet, it's an anterior open bite. The premolars and molars do meet with this form of malocclusion.
Posterior Open BiteIf your posterior teeth (the molars and premolars) don't meet, but the front teeth and upper and lower incisors meet, it's classed as a posterior open bite.
Lateral Open BiteLateral open bites are less common than anterior or posterior issues. With a lateral open bite, your upper and lower teeth might have a gap, but it only occurs on one side of the mouth.

What Are The Causes Of An Open Bite?

In most cases, open bites occur due to genetics or behaviours. In some situations, individuals might have a combination of genetic conditions and previous childhood behaviours that impacted adult tooth development.

Bad Oral Habits

Individuals with a frontal (or anterior) open bite often display behaviours in childhood, but the issues transfer into adulthood. For example, childhood behaviours, including the use of dummies past the age of three, have higher risks of open bite symptoms. The same goes for thumb-sucking and tongue-thrusting.


Some jaw growth patterns and facial structures might be passed on from parents, increasing the risks of an open bite. If your jaws don't develop in the correct position, it can cause misalignment issues, leading to a skeletal open bite.

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Dental Development

If your baby teeth fall out early, it could impact the eruption of your permanent teeth, resulting in misalignment. Impacted teeth (teeth stuck beneath the gum) can disrupt your other teeth, leading to incorrect positioning.

Other Potential Causes:

  • Jaw trauma
  • Incorrect tongue posture

What Are the Symptoms Of An Open Bite?

The symptoms of an open bite can vary for each person, but they commonly include:

  • An uneven smile
  • Issues when chewing and swallowing
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Challenges when biting on food with the front teeth
  • Speech difficulties
  • Low confidence

How Is Open Bite Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have an open bite, it's best to seek treatment from an orthodontist. They will examine your teeth and symptoms, perform a full dental exam, and take X-rays to determine the type and extent of your open bite.

Once you have a diagnosis, your orthodontist will explore different treatment options.

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Open Bite Dental treatments

In most open bite cases, orthodontic treatment is the best solution, as it can gradually encourage the teeth to move into their correct position. The right treatment for your needs depends on the extent of your open bite.

Braces Before
Braces After

Before and After (Click to enlarge)

- 6 Month Braces


Braces are a popular treatment for adults and children, as they correct bite issues over time.

Adults can choose between fixed braces or aligners.

However, it depends on what your dentist recommends as the best treatment.

Invisalign Before
Invisalign After

Before and After (Click to enlarge)

- Invisalign


Invisalign treatment can correct bite issues and encourage proper anterior or posterior teeth alignment.

It's popular because the aligners are invisible, making them one of the best options for teenagers and adults.

Jaw surgery

Severe open bite problems might require surgical correction. Orthognathic surgery can correct misaligned teeth and jaws. If your orthodontist feels this is the best solution, they'll refer you to a specialist surgeon.

retainer for teeth straightening


After your initial orthodontic treatment, you'll wear retainers to keep your lower and upper teeth in their correct positions. Following your dentist's instructions and wearing the retainers regularly will prevent the need for further treatment.

What Is The Cost Of Open Bite Treatment?

Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental

Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental

The costs of open bite malocclusion will depend on the severity and your chosen treatment option.

Information on our pricing options can be found on our orthodontic pricing page. Your orthodontist will assess your open bite and recommend which solutions will provide the best outcomes.

At 3Dental, we offer free consultations so you can get all of your questions answered before making any commitments to treatment. We also offer flexible payment plans and locations in Dublin, Limerick and Galway.

Please book an appointment with us today or contact our friendly team with any questions.

Our Locations

The Red Cow Complex, Naas Rd, Fox-And-Geese, Dublin, D22 KV24

28, Briarhill Business Park, Galway, H91 C9DR

Old Quarter House, Little Ellen St, Limerick, V94 D72V

Book Your Free Consultation With Our Orthodontic Team

Based in Dublin, Limerick and Galway - we offer free, no-obligation consultations :)


Book Your Free Consultation

Commonly Asked Questions

Why treat a dental open bite?

Open bites can cause a range of difficulties, including functional problems such as chewing problems and mouth breathing. Seeking treatment can enhance oral functionality while also giving you more confidence, as it promotes an even smile.

What happens if an open bite is left untreated?

Early treatment makes correcting open bites much easier. While adults can still receive treatment, it might take longer to correct the issues. It's also important to remember that open bites can place pressure on the upper and lower jaws, leading to ongoing headaches.

What is the best treatment for an open bite?

That depends on your unique needs. Many people with open bite malocclusion can achieve optimal results with braces and retainers, while some might require surgery. Your orthodontist will assess your condition and advise on the best treatment options.

Can crowns and composite bonding treat open bites?

Crowns and composite bonding aren't advised treatments because they can't correct the underlying issue. However, once we fix your open bite, you can explore composite bonding and crowns to enhance your smile's aesthetics.

Can an open bite cause breathing problems?

Yes, they can. The Tongue should sit on the roof of your mouth, but it rests lower in people with open bites. Poor tongue posture can cause airway obstructions, resulting in mouth breathing. Jaw development might also narrow the airways, resulting in breathing complications.

How long does open bite surgery take?

Oral and maxillofacial surgery can take between one and six hours, depending on the extent of your misalignment. After your procedure, you'll be discharged, and most people recover within four to six weeks. Your dentist might advise on braces and retainers to ensure the jaw maintains its position.

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