What is a crossbite and how do I fix it?

A crossbite is a bite misalignment (malocclusion), characterized by the upper teeth fitting inside of the lower teeth. With a healthy alignment, the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth.

Crossbites are a cosmetic concern, as well as a functional concern. Leaving a crossbite condition untreated can lead to further complications, including teeth grinding, irregular enamel wear, tooth loss, muscle tension, jaw clenching and headaches.

In more severe cases, a crossbite may affect the face and jaw development in young children, where a malocclusion can lead to a permanent distortion of the facial bones and skull. There is also a possibility of speech impediments and misaligned facial features due to crossbite.

Fortunately, like every other orthodontic challenge faced by our new patients at Nth Degree Orthodontics, crossbites are treatable by our experienced orthodontists!

What is A Crossbite?

What is a crossbite and what does a crossbite look like?

When a crossbite is present, the upper teeth hide behind the lower arch. This can be the whole row of teeth, a single tooth, or multiple bottom teeth overlapping the top teeth.

Most crossbite causes are hereditary and due to genetics. It’s also possible for crossbites to develop when permanent teeth start to grow in, before all of the baby teeth have fallen out. In these cases, the permanent teeth often don’t have enough room to grow in a healthy alignment, so they overlap each other and grow outward or inward to fit. A crossbite may also be a symptom of improper jaw development, such as a smaller-than-average jaw.

Other crossbite causes include:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue-thrusting
  • Extended use of pacifiers and baby bottles
  • Losing baby teeth early
  • Mouth breathing

No matter the cause of a crossbite, the condition is often uncomfortable and can even be painful. Untreated crossbites can also lead to jaw pain, receding gums, and loose teeth! Chipping teeth, uneven wear, and sensitive teeth can also develop due to this condition.

An uneven chewing motion also puts strain on the jaw and neck muscles, causing headaches and a painful neck.

Types of Crossbites

When the teeth don’t align properly, the misalignment can develop at the front of the mouth or the sides of the mouth.

What is Anterior Crossbite?

An anterior crossbite is present when some, or all, of the upper incisors and canine teeth are situated behind the lower anterior teeth (the front teeth that are most visible when a person smiles). In severe cases, the lower front teeth completely obscure the upper teeth.

What is Posterior Crossbite?

A posterior crossbite is a type of malocclusion where the upper back teeth align inside the bottom back teeth. Posterior crossbites are caused by a narrowing of the palate and teeth in the upper jaw and can develop on one or both sides of the jaw.

How to Fix a Crossbite in a Child

Nth Degree Orthodontics treats all types of crossbites, and the sooner crossbite treatment starts, the better. Children can be brought in for an examination as early as seven years old to determine if they need crossbite treatment or have any other conditions that may require orthodontic intervention.

One of our experienced orthodontists will perform a thorough examination, including x-rays and diagnostic photos, to determine your condition and recommend the best course of action.

Here are the most common types of crossbite treatment:

Expanders

Expanders are one of the most effective and least invasive ways to correct crossbites, especially in younger patients. There are many different designs, but they all utilize a small expansion screw to gently widen the upper teeth and jaw. This allows the upper jaw to then fit over the lower jaw. They are most effective between the ages of 6 and 12. However, they can still be used in adolescents and young adults in certain situations.

Damon® Braces

Damon Braces are highly effective for treating crossbites. With Damon braces, brackets are attached to each tooth, with an archwire ‘clipped’ into place. With traditional braces, the archwire is threaded through the brackets, with a rubber band around each bracket to hold the archwire in place.

Damon brackets use a passive slide mechanism that enables the archwire to be clipped into the brackets. This way, we can facilitate movement of individual teeth, as the teeth are able to move more freely than in traditional braces. Damon Braces are especially effective for crossbites, as teeth may need to move independently of each other (depending on the case).

Braces are an excellent treatment option for people of all ages, including kids, teens, and adults. Braces are often used in conjunction with expanders for crossbite treatment, creating a predictable and affordable way to fix the bite!

Invisalign® Clear Aligners or Spark® Clear Aligners

Invisalign & Spark Clear Aligners are other popular options for crossbite treatment. Invisalign and Spark function similarly to braces (shifting the teeth into alignment over time), but they’re made of virtually-invisible material, so they’re a more discreet alternative to braces.

Depending on the severity of your condition, braces may be a better option for you! More severe cases may require Damon braces, but we won’t know for sure until you visit us for your complimentary consultation.

Can Adults Get Crossbite Treatment?

Yes, of course! Children, teens and adults can benefit from crossbite treatment.

Of course, it’s ideal to start crossbite treatment while teeth and jaws are still developing during childhood and adolescence, but it’s possible to correct a crossbite at any age. Malocclusion can lead to serious orthodontic problems when left untreated, so the sooner you get it fixed, the better off you’ll be!

Still have questions about treating a crossbite?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We love to hear from you. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment.

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Gaffney, Union, Duncan, West Spartanburg or East Spartanburg, we’d love to meet you! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.