how do braces fix open bites

How Do Braces Fix Open Bites?

By Dr. Tyler Coles – Premier Orthodontics

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Open bites are a common problem orthodontists see every day.  In this article, we’ll discuss 3 specific ways that open bites are corrected with braces. Then we’ll go into the process behind each method.

What Is An Open Bite?

Before we talk about how to fix open bites with braces, let’s first define what an open bite is….  

An open bite is any time that the top teeth don’t touch the bottom teeth. There are a couple of different types of open bites – one instance occurs with the front teeth and the other occurs with the back teeth. In this article we’ll be discussing an open bite that occurs with the front teeth, also known as an anterior open bite. (the images below are both examples of anterior open bites)

open bite front view
open bite side view

Even though an open bite is a common bite problem and orthodontists see them routinely, how we choose to fix them does vary. The method we choose will usually depend on how severe the open bite is. 

In this article we’ll discuss three of the most common methods we at Premier Orthodontics choose when correcting open bites for our patients.  We’ve found, after research, training and years of experience, that these three methods are effective and stable ways to fix most open bite problems.

Fixing Open Bites With Braces & Rubber Bands

The first type of open bite we’ll discuss is a mild open bite. The patient shown in this picture is a good example of a mild open bite – you can see that her top teeth don’t quite touch the bottom teeth in the front.

open bite intitial smiling
open bite Intitial center

For this type of open bite, a combination of braces and elastics were used to help bring the top teeth down and the bottom teeth up.  

As you can see in the videos below, by connecting a rubber band between the upper and lower teeth, and keeping it in place over a period of time, the top and bottom teeth will respond to the pressure and correctly re-align, eventually closing the mild open bite altogether.  

(There are two different rubber band patterns that can be used. See them both demonstrated in the two videos below.)

Triangle Rubber Bands to Fix an Open Bite

Anterior Rubber Bands to Fix an Open Bite

With the patient we showed earlier, you can see that braces with rubber bands helped to fix her open bite and give her a great smile.

open bite intitial smiling
open bite Intitial center
open bite post braces smiling
open bite post braces center

Fixing Open Bites With Braces and Extractions

The next type of open bite correction we’ll discuss is a moderate open bite.  In moderate open bite cases, the teeth are often overcrowded, making them sit at a protruded angle. You’ll notice that it prevents certain teeth from ever touching. The patient below is a good example.

open bite before braces
open bite before braces

Due to the severity of her bite and her crowding, we recommended that two permanent teeth were extracted on the upper arch and the lower arch. 

This short animation will demonstrate how taking out teeth on the upper arch and lower arch, and then closing the space, can help reduce the protrusion of the front teeth, correct the crowding, and help to close the open bite.

Notice in the animation how we usually have the bicuspid (or premolar teeth) extracted, and then we close the space and correct the open bite using braces. 

Once this space is closed, you won’t be able to tell that teeth were ever removed, plus the bite will look better and function better!

Going back to our patient, she had two teeth on her upper arch and two teeth on the lower arch extracted. We closed that space using braces and by the time we were done, she had a beautiful smile, no spaces, and her open bite was completely corrected.

open bite before braces
open bite before braces
open bite after braces
open bite after braces

Check out our video below for a full walk-through of how braces and extractions helped this patient with their open bite. 

Fixing Open Bites With Braces and TADS or Miniscrews

The last type of open bite correction we’ll discuss is a severe open bite. Severe open bites may be too severe to fix with braces and extractions alone. Instead, TADS or Temporary Anchorage Devices (Also sometimes called Orthodontic Miniscrews) may be recommended, in combination with braces. 

The patient pictured below is a good example of a severe open bite that would benefit from braces and orthodontic miniscrews.

open bite before braces
open bite before braces

You can see in the picture below that ONLY the molar teeth are touching in this patient and none of the rest of the teeth can make contact.

open bite side view

If there was a way to push her molars up (known as intruding the molars), the lower jaw would swing forward and the open bite would close.  This is where TADS or orthodontic miniscrews come in….

Picture of a TAD or Orthodontic Miniscrew
Picture of a TAD or Orthodontic Miniscrew

TADS or orthodontic miniscrews act as an anchor.  If an orthodontist needs to push, or pull teeth a certain direction, a miniscrew will assist by acting as an anchor you call push or pull against.

An orthodontic miniscrew is placed between the teeth or sometimes in the roof of the mouth.

orthodontic model and dentist tool - demonstration teeth model of varities of orthodontic bracket or brace

When a TAD is placed, an orthodontist will numb the area where this miniscrew will be placed. In only a few seconds, the miniscrew can be placed through the gums and into the bone surrounding the teeth. The insertion is very quick and the numbing makes sure there is minimal discomfort.  Once placed, the miniscrew will be stable in the bone and will assist in certain types of orthodontic tooth movements.

This may sound like a scary procedure, but it’s actually quite easy.  Watch the video below to see a demonstration of an actual patient receiving an orthodontic miniscrew.  You’ll see in the video that the entire process is pain-free and over in just a matter of minutes.

In patients with an open bite, an orthodontic miniscrew can help with intrusion of the molars on the upper arch.

molar intrusion
Normally molar intrusion is a difficult movement to achieve with braces alone. This is where the orthodontic miniscrew can help… By placing the TAD in the roof of the mouth:
TAD screw

…and then connecting the TAD to the molar teeth with an elastic or spring…

…the spring will pull the molar teeth up and intrude them while the miniscrew stays stable in the bone.

This short animation will show you how orthodontic miniscrews help to intrude molars and to fix severe open bites.

Going back to our patient, she had braces with our office and had a TAD placed in the roof of the mouth to intrude her molars. She was able to get full open bite correction (as you can see from her photos below)…

open bite before braces
open bite before braces
open bite side view
open bite after braces
open bite after braces
open bite after braces

How Can I Tell if Me or My Child Needs Braces to Fix an Open Bite?

If you think you or your child may need braces to correct an open bite, the best place to start is with a free consultation by an orthodontist in your area.

Braces in Phoenix, Chandler, Maricopa, and Casa Grande

Premier Orthodontics has 6 locations  providing braces and Invisalign in Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Maricopa, Casa Grande, and Glendale as well as the surrounding areas. 

Schedule your free consultation for braces or Invisalign or read our comprehensive guide to the cost of braces . (We are very transparent about our process and our pricing, as you’ll see in this guide.)

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