Crossbite Explained: Characteristics & Treatments

Underbites are easy to spot and overbites are just the opposite, but what are crossbites? Crossbites are just another way our teeth may become misaligned. However, we know you might not be as familiar with them, so we compiled everything you need to know about crossbites and their treatment.

Kid wearing a palatal expander
Palatal expanders (like the one shown above) are popular treatment options to correct crossbites and prepare the mouth for braces.

Crossbite Characteristics

As opposed to an under or overbite, a crossbite refers to the misalignment of only a few teeth rather than the entire jaw. The teeth “cross” over each other, usually due to the jaw becoming smaller in different areas of the mouth. This may be noticeable as one or several upper teeth “hide” behind lower ones.

Anterior vs Posterior Crossbites

While your teeth can cross at any point in the mouth, most crossbites can be grouped into one of two categories. Anterior crossbites occur in the front of the mouth and may be noticable when smiling. Meanwhile, posterior crossbites are just the opposite, with the cross occurring in the back of the mouth. These are less visible, but may be apparent when chewing. 

Other Crossbite Symptoms

As we’ve explained in previous posts, a misaligned bite can cause things like jaw pain, headaches, and even digestive problems. Because crossbites affect a smaller area than over or underbites, these effects can be less likely. However, it is dependent on the severity of the crossbite misalignment.

Because of the changes a misaligned jaw can cause, crossbites are not typically able to be self corrected. The ideal time to treat crossbites is when the patient is young and the jaw is developing, to allow for easier reshaping.  

Treatment of Crossbites

Here is a list of treatment options that can get you closer to an ideal bite.  

Palatal Expander

The primary way crossbites are treated is with a palatal or maxillary expander. A palatal expander is a device an orthodontist attaches the upper teeth on either side of the mouth. It will gradually expand the palate with regular turning of a crank device housed inside the expander. These are most effectively used on children, because their palates are still forming. For adults seeking treatment, some expander types can be removable. Though, these are most helpful when only a slight amount of expansion is needed.

Braces

While often coupled with a palatal expander, braces themselves can be a treatment for crossbite. Braces are most helpful when the crossbite’s main cause is misaligned teeth rather than an ill-fitting jaw. However, this simple treatment can still pull off impressive adjustments – even Invisalign aligners! 

Palate Expansion Surgery

The most intense method of correction is surgically assisted palatal expansion. This method is used when the jaw shape must be altered dramatically and wouldn’t benefit from simple palatal expanders. During rapid palatal expansion surgery, the patient’s jaw is strategically broken and they wear a custom-made device afterwards.

A crossbite is one of the ways in which our jaws can be misaligned, and it can affect one or more teeth instead of the entire jaw. They can be treated with a variety of options from removable expanders to surgery. To determine which treatment is right for you, talk with an orthodontic specialist. At Tisseront Orthodontics, we specialize in the care and treatment of young patients. From crossbites to crooked teeth, our skilled team of professionals can’t wait to see how they can help you achieve your ideal smile.

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