What Is Crossbite? How Can You Fix It?

Crossbite is often confused with underbite, but it’s a different type of malocclusion altogether. Both crossbite and underbite need to be treated, but they’re treated in different ways.

So we’re going to cover what crossbite is, the side effects of it, and how you can get treatment.

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What Is a Crossbite?

When your upper and lower teeth are not aligned with each other, that’s called “crossbite.” Typically, this is in your genes, but it can happen outside of hereditary reasons, like if a baby’s adult teeth grown in before their baby teeth have fallen out.

And there are two main types of crossbite: anterior crossbites and posterior crossbites.

Anterior Crossbite

With an anterior crossbite, your top front teeth sit behind your lower front teeth. This is similar to an underbite, but not the exact same thing.

Posterior Crossbite

A posterior crossbite is the opposite of an anterior crossbite. It’s when your upper teeth sit in front of your lower front teeth.

Crossbite is when the upper and lower teeth don’t align with each other, either the top teeth sitting behind the bottom teeth (anterior crossbite) or when the upper teeth sit in front of the lower teeth (posterior crossbite).

What Causes a Crossbite?

As we mentioned above, the cause of crossbite it usually hereditary. But there are some other common causes to be aware of.

Delayed And Abnormal Tooth Eruption

For most people, their baby teeth fall out and are soon replaced by their permanent teeth. However, in some cases, teeth can grow in before the baby teeth fall out. If this happens, the adult teeth on the corresponding jaw become misaligned.

Thumb Sucking

If a child sucks their thumb a lot, it can lead to teeth alignment problems. Sucking their thumb can decrease the width of the palate, possibly making the upper palate bone deformed.

Mouth Breathing

When your mouth is closed and you’re breathing through your nose, you tongue naturally rests against the roof of your mouth. In developing children, this helps the upper jaw grow properly. However, if a child constantly breathes through their mouth, maybe due to other problems like swollen tonsils, the tongue moves away from the upper palate. This can lead to an upper jaw that’s too small.

The most common cause of crossbite is genetics, but it can also happen because of delayed and/or abnormal tooth eruption, thumb sucking, and mouth breathing.

How To Fix a Crossbite?

The good news about all this is that there are fixes for crossbite. The most common treatments available include:

  • A palate expander or maxillary expander (which gradually widens the roof of the mouth)
  • A removable expander for adults
  • Braces (can involve headgear braces)
  • Surgery that involves strategically breaking the jaw bone and widening the upper palate

None of these options for convenient or comfortable, but they do work well. And if you have a crossbite, you’ll probably experience one of these treatment methods.

Crossbite treatments can include orthodontic work, like braces or a palate expander (there are a few different kinds), and/or surgery for more severe cases.

What Happens If You Don’t Fix a Crossbite?

Even though dental professionals may disagree on what treatment option to use for a crossbite or even at what age to start treatment, they all agree on one thing: treatment should definitely happen. It’s a no-brainer for them.

The reason why is that crossbite can lead to serious wear and tear on the gums, not to mention the pain that can occur in the teeth and cheeks. The teeth will wear down unevenly and problems can arise in the jaw (like TMJ disorder), neck, and even shoulders because of crossbite.

So if crossbite is not treated at all, it can lead to the jaw developing incorrectly, joint problems, and facial asymmetry. This is why it’s so important to speak with a dental professional — dentist, orthodontist, oral surgeon — to see if and when you or your loved one with crossbite should get help.

If a crossbite is not fixed, it can lead to gum damage, teeth and cheek pain, problems in the jaw, neck, and shoulders, and facial asymmetry.

Summary

  • Crossbite is when the upper and lower teeth don’t align with each other, either the top teeth sitting behind the bottom teeth (anterior crossbite) or when the upper teeth sit in front of the lower teeth (posterior crossbite).
  • The most common cause of crossbite is genetics, but it can also happen because of delayed and/or abnormal tooth eruption, thumb sucking, and mouth breathing.
  • Crossbite treatments can include orthodontic work, a palate expander (there are a few different kinds), and/or surgery for more severe cases.
  • If a crossbite is not fixed, it can lead to gum damage (like gingivitis), teeth and cheek pain, problems in the jaw, neck, and shoulders, and facial asymmetry.