Dealing with low self-esteem or pain due to a crossbite can take a toll on your health—mentally and physically.
Thankfully, there are many treatment options available for adults and children with crossbites to help you achieve perfectly straight teeth and a healthy bite.
This article examines the causes of crossbites and the most popular orthodontic treatments for the condition.
What Is a Crossbite?
A crossbite is malocclusion or misalignment of teeth involving the upper teeth or lower teeth extending past each other. Misaligned bites are sometimes referred to as underbites.
Crossbites can vary in severity from a simple cosmetic problem to significantly affecting your comfort and ability to chew.
There are various types of crossbites, including:
- Anterior crossbite: When your front bottom teeth stick out past your upper front teeth. This type of crossbite is the most common, occurring in around 66% of patients and often referred to as an underbite .
- Posterior crossbite: Involves your upper back teeth biting down inside your lower back teeth.
- Single tooth crossbite: It involves only one tooth biting down inside the opposite line of teeth. Single tooth crossbites most often affect the upper teeth.
- Unilateral crossbite: This only affects one side of your teeth, either the left or right.
- Bilateral crossbite: Affects both sides of your teeth equally.
What Causes a Crossbite?
Crossbites are typically either dental or skeletal issues. These may be caused by :
- Mouth breathing
- Tongue thrust swallowing
- Thumb sucking or the use of a pacifier
- Problematic growth
Narrow palates are often hereditary, and a small upper jaw is the main cause of a crossbite related to your genetic makeup .
Breathing through your mouth, especially when sleeping, can affect jaw growth during childhood and adolescence. This altered growth pattern could leave you with either an anterior or posterior crossbite .
Tongue Thrust Swallowing
Tongue thrust swallowing, which involves pushing your tongue forward against your teeth when you swallow, can lead to the development of an anterior crossbite.
Thumb sucking or using a pacifier for an extended period can significantly affect jaw growth and commonly result in crossbites in children that stay with them into adulthood if untreated.
Problematic Growth or Eruption of Permanent Teeth
Baby teeth can become loose but, instead of falling out, just settle and tighten into the gums again. This can prevent adult teeth from erupting, and in many cases, the permanent teeth start moving as they try to grow out .
This misalignment most commonly affects the upper teeth and will result in a single tooth crossbite where one upper tooth fits behind your lower teeth.
What Happens If a Crossbite Is Not Corrected?
If a severe crossbite is left untreated, it could lead to:
- Jaw pain, especially while chewing, is due to the position your lower or upper teeth sit in when your jaw closes.
- Gum disease: Most commonly receding gums caused by extra force or strain being placed on specific teeth, which could lead to infection .
- Chipped teeth, caused by the misalignment between the top and bottom teeth.
- Possible increase of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) clicking, although this has not been conclusively proven .
- Biases against your person: Dental malocclusions negatively affect other people’s perceptions and make those with the condition seem relatively less attractive, intelligent, and extraverted than those without the condition .
How Do You Correct a Crossbite?
The best way to correct a crossbite is through a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan. If you prefer at-home care, consider aligners.
Anterior Crossbite Treatment vs. Posterior Crossbite Treatment
An early posterior crossbite can be treated with a rapid palate expander, which could help widen your dental arch and correct your teeth’ alignment .
An anterior crossbite can be improved by orthodontic treatments like reverse-pull headgear, although palate expanders may also work if used in the early stages.
Most crossbite treatments will focus on aligning your top and bottom teeth or your lower and upper jaw, depending on the condition’s cause.
Crossbite Treatment Options
There are a variety of orthodontic treatment options for a posterior or anterior crossbite. The most popular options are:
Should you seek treatment to realign your teeth to their correct position and improve your oral health, you should discuss your options with a licensed dentist or orthodontist before proceeding.
Dental braces align and straighten teeth and help place them in proper bite formation, enhancing overall dental health. Gaps can also be fixed using braces. To broaden the palate or jaws, where necessary, braces will be used in combination with other orthodontic appliances like orthodontic spacers and palatal expanders.
Clear aligners are a type of invisible braces that cover the biting surface of both the top and bottom teeth and allow a single tooth crossbite to be realigned without affecting the positioning of the opposing teeth.
Clear aligners work similarly to traditional braces and can be especially helpful for straightening your front teeth.
Although some transparent aligner brands are FDA-approved, the American Association of Orthodontists does not recommend using these devices without professional oversight.
The most popular clear aligner brands include:
If you’re interested in an AlignerCo set, take a look at our complete AlignerCo review. However, if covering your treatment, at least partially, with insurance is a dealbreaker, Byte may be the better option for you.
Invisalign is the best-known invisible braces brand around. Unlike the other aligners on this list, Invisalign can only be purchased through a dentist or orthodontist, and as a result, is more expensive than any Invisalign alternative.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Byte may be right for you.
Crossbite Appliances for Children
Orthodontic treatment for early crossbites in children varies depending on the severity and type of malocclusion. The most popular treatment choices are:
- Rapid Palate Expander (RPE)
- Reverse Pull Headgear
Traditional braces are typically used to straighten crooked teeth but are also helpful in realigning a single tooth crossbite. If a unilateral or bilateral crossbite is present, an orthodontist may recommend using braces in combination with other applications like expanders or headgear.
Clear aligners, like those manufactured by Byte, are a great alternative to traditional ones, especially if the crossbite is only mild to moderate. The best invisible braces are covered in our detailed review.
Rapid Palate Expander (RPE)
Although a rapid palate expander can also be used for treating an adult crossbite, the appliance is most effective in treating the condition early on .
Palate expanders form part of a dental expansion procedure that widens your dental arch, reducing overcrowding and realigning your teeth in the process. A removable expander will generally be used on your upper teeth to achieve the minimal expansion necessary to align and straighten your opposing teeth.
Reverse Pull Headgear
Reverse pull headgear is one of the more invasive orthodontic treatments that work by pulling your upper jaw forward to align your bottom and top teeth. This option is most effective for children under the age of ten .
Jaw surgery to correct a severe crossbite is typically only recommended for adults in rare cases. Your orthodontist may choose to try at least one other option before recommending surgery, during which the upper jaw is either moved forward, widened, or both.
Below are the most commonly asked questions about anterior and posterior crossbites.
Can You Fix a Crossbite Without Braces?
Yes, you can achieve a correct bite without braces through other orthodontic treatments like clear aligners or rapid palate expanders.
If you’re interested in straightening teeth naturally, this article is for you.
How Do You Correct a Crossbite on One Side?
If you have a unilateral crossbite, your orthodontist may recommend using a palate expander alongside braces or clear aligners.
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Crossbite?
Jaw surgery is an instant fix, while other treatments like braces or palate expanders may take anything between 18 months to three years.
However, the time required to fix a crossbite depends on the severity of the condition.
If you’re looking for a less invasive way to correct a mild to moderate crossbite, consider using nighttime clear aligners. The best brands available are listed in our nighttime clear aligners review.
At What Age Should You Fix a Crossbite?
In most orthodontic care studies of early crossbite treatment, the average age is about seven .
The best age for treatment would be before ten years old, which is when the palate shape becomes fixed and more challenging to treat.
Crossbites can be difficult to deal with once they become too severe. Thankfully, treatments are readily available after consulting your orthodontist. Many appliances like braces, reverse pull headgear, or clear aligners like those manufactured by Byte can help you once more have a healthy bite.
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