Has the dentist told you that your child has a crossbite or have you recently been diagnosed with one? The term sounds odd and can be alarming to many people. However, the truth is that the problem is very common and very treatable. Read on to get the facts about what a crossbite is, how it happens and what are your crossbite treatment options.
What Is a Crossbite?
Crossbite is the term used to describe when the upper and lower jaws do not properly align. The problem is diagnosed easily through a routine dental exam.
With a typical jaw, the upper teeth are positioned so that they are slightly in front of the bottom teeth all the way across. In a person with a crossbite, the teeth line up improperly in one particular area of the mouth.
Crossbites may involve just one tooth, or may impact multiple teeth.
Types of Crossbites?
There are three main types of crossbite, two of which are common and one of which is rarer:
1. Posterior Crossbite. A posterior crossbite is one that occurs in the front of the mouth.
2. Anterior Crossbite. An anterior crossbite is one that occurs in the back of the mouth.
3. Buccal Crossbite. With this rarer and more extreme form of crossbite, the upper teeth are positioned too close to the cheek on one side of the mouth and do not touch the lower teeth at all.
Causes of Crossbites
A crossbite can have a number of causes, including:
– Genetics. Parents with crossbites have a good chance of having children with crossbites as the condition is partially hereditary.
– Jaw Size. People with smaller upper jaws or with an overly large lower jaw are more likely to develop crossbites.
– Tooth Development. Children whose baby teeth fall out at a slower pace than normal are more likely to develop crossbites because the adult teeth are unable to form properly.
– Enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Children with enlarged adenoids and tonsils often breathe out of their mouths rather than their noses, causing them to keep their tongues along the roofs of their mouths. Over time, this can actually impact the growth of the jaw and lead to the development of a crossbite.
A minor crossbite may not cause any problems. However, a moderate to severe crossbite puts a person at risk for a number of dental problems later in life, such as:
– Excess wear and tear on the teeth. When the jaws do not properly line up, some teeth have to work extra hard. Over time, this can cause the enamel to be worn away, making teeth more prone to cracking.
– Higher risk for gum disease. Crossbites can make it much harder for people to brush and floss their teeth properly and give places for bacteria to hide. This increases the risk of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss, bone loss and even an increased likelihood for heart disease.
– Impact on Appearance. Crossbites can make a person’s smile less attractive. This is particularly true of posterior crossbites, which are easier to see. Even a minor crossbite can make a person feel self-conscious and hurt their self-esteem.
– TMJ. People who suffer from a crossbite are more likely to develop Temporomandibular Joint Disorders or TMJ, problems with the joint that connects the upper or lower jaw. TMJ can cause earaches, pain in the jaw, facial pain, locking of the jaw, numbness of the face and a number of other unpleasant symptoms.
Crossbite Treatment Options
Orthodontists nearly always recommend treating a crossbite in order to prevent the problems associated with the misalignment of the jaws.
Crossbite treatments vary and can include a number of different interventions. Orthodontists may use one treatment or more than one treatment in a series.
Rapid Palatal Expander
What It Is: A Rapid Palatal Expander is an orthodontic appliance that fits against the roof of the mouth. It fits around the premolars and first permanent molars, and has a screw mechanism in the middle that requires regular adjustments at home.
Who It Is For: Rapid Palatal Expanders are effective for treating crossbites only in people whose jaws are not finished growing. Typically, orthodontists only use them to fix a crossbite in children.
How It Works: The Rapid Palatal Expander pushes the two bones that support the soft palate outwards using gentle pressure. This helps to expand the size of the jaw and can reduce overcrowding to improve a crossbite.
What It Is: Braces are an orthodontic appliance that consists of metal brackets that are cemented onto the teeth and connected by wires.
Who It Is For: Braces can be used to treat a crossbite in people of all ages.
How It Works: Crossbite braces apply pressure to the teeth to gradually reposition them over time. Can braces fix a crossbite? They can be effective at correcting crossbites associated with crooked teeth and jaw deformities. Braces can also correct an overbite.
What It Is: Invisalign is a series of thermoplastic trays that are worn over the teeth throughout the day. They can be removed for brushing and at mealtime.
Who It Is For: Because Invisalign requires patients to be responsible and remember to wear the trays during the day, orthodontists typically only use them to treat crossbites in adults and mature teenagers.
How It Works: Does Invisalign fix crossbite? Invisalign works similarly to braces. The trays apply pressure to the teeth to move them into a new position. As the jaw moves, you progress through a series of custom designed trays until your teeth are properly positioned.
If you think your child has a crossbite or you suffer from one, an orthodontist can develop the best crossbite treatment plan for a problem. Schedule an appointment with one to discuss your treatment options and then stop back to our site and let us know how it went in the Comments section. Your story can help other readers get the information they need about crossbites and crossbite treatment.