Crossbite: What Is It, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments 

Crossbite: What Is It, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments 

An abnormality in the alignment of the teeth can cause oral health problems. Crossbite is one such malocclusion that can cause both functional and aesthetic concerns. It is recommended that you get treated as early as possible for this. Delaying your treatment may cause further complications. 

It is important to note that there are different types of this malocclusion, and they may affect different teeth at different positions inside the mouth. It’s important to get a diagnosis from a medical professional. In addition, it’s a good idea to know about the potential causes. You can prevent it from developing in some cases, although it is not always possible. 

What Is A Crossbite? 

If you have a crossbite, the lower teeth will sit in front of the upper teeth when the mouth is closed. This is a type of malocclusion that can affect either a group of teeth or a single tooth. Also, it can occur on either side of the jaw: 

  • Unilateral Crossbite – When it’s on one side of the jaw. 
  • Bilateral Crossbite – When it’s on both sides of the jaw. 

Normally, our upper teeth sit slightly in front of the lower ones. However, the opposite of it happens in this case. Crossbite teeth may sit too close to the tongue or the cheeks. Additionally, lower teeth may cover the upper teeth entirely.

Keep in mind that a crossbite is different from an underbite. In the case of an underbite, the entire lower teeth and jaw are positioned in front of the top teeth. While in the case of a crossbite, it’s one tooth or a group of lower teeth that fit over the top ones. 

Types of Crossbite Teeth 

Mainly there are two main types of crossbite teeth. These are as follows: 

  • Anterior Crossbite – An anterior crossbite is a malocclusion that affects the lower front teeth. They sit over the top front teeth. 
  • Posterior Crossbite – A posterior crossbite is a malocclusion that affects the lower back teeth that position themselves in front of the upper back teeth. 

It is possible for these two types of crossbites to coexist. You may need a combination of treatments to correct this problem. 

What Are the Symptoms of A Crossbite? 

As mentioned above, a crossbite can cause health problems. It can have the following symptoms: 

  • Pain (in the muscles, jaw, teeth and neck) 
  • Jaw problems (like TMJ) 
  • Bruxism 
  • Headaches 
  • Problems in chewing 
  • Excessive wear 
  • Tooth decay 
  • Gum disease
  • Speech disorder 
  • Facial asymmetry (it can shift the jaw) 
  • Sleep apnea 

You can develop other problems if the condition remains untreated. It can also become quite disruptive, especially if you develop more serious problems like sleep apnea or TMJ. 

What Are the Causes of Crossbite Teeth? 

The following are the reasons why you may have a crossbite. 

Genetics

Crossbites have a genetic component. If someone in your family has it, you’re also likely to have it. It could be because of the shape of your jaw and/or the number of teeth you have. Here, it should be noted that this type of malocclusion can also develop due to a cleft palate or cleft lip, whose risk is influenced by genetics.  

Delayed Eruption of Permanent Teeth

This can occur due to the “over-retention” of primary teeth, which ends up delaying the eruption of permanent teeth. Your child should start losing your primary teeth around the ages of 6-7. If that doesn’t happen, it could lead to the development of a crossbite.  

Thumb or Digit Sucking

If your child has a habit of sucking their thumb, the risk of developing this condition increases. The inward pressure can alter the shape of the upper jaw. The same can happen with the use of a pacifier. To break this thumb-sucking habit, the dentist may put palatal cribs or arches in place. Sometimes, bitters liquids are also applied to the nails to stop the child from doing this. 

Others 

There are some other causes of crossbite teeth, which are as follows: 

  • Ectopic eruption (permanent teeth erupting in an abnormal position) 
  • Physical trauma 
  • Mouth breathing and/or abnormal swallowing (myofunctional therapy may be recommended for muscle retraining) 

You could have crossbite teeth because of more than one of the above reasons. 

How Do You Fix A Crossbite?

The doctor will take various factors into consideration before recommending a treatment plan. It can vary depending on your age, the severity of the problem and its cause. In general, it can take a few months to a few years for the whole treatment. It may be one or more of the following: 

Dental Appliance(s)

You may need a combination of these. Keep in mind that when wearing any of the dental appliance(s), you may not be allowed to eat sticky foods like caramel, gum, or nuts.  

Palate Expanders 

It is possible to fix a crossbite without braces using palate expanders. It is an orthodontic appliance that is used for widening the upper jaw. It can be used by both children and adults. 

This device is attached to the upper back teeth on both sides of the jaw with a screw in the middle, which is rotated using a key. They’re of different types, such as fixed, removable, rapid palate expanders (RPEs), quad helixes, etc. Children typically wear it for a few months, while adults may need it for one or more years. 

Braces 

Braces are another way to fix a crossbite. Using metal brackets, wires, and elastics, braces can help adjust the position of teeth in the mouth. Also, if overcrowding is the reason why you have a crossbite, then your doctor may recommend extracting one or more teeth

You might need both braces and a palate expander at the same time. You will also need to wear retainers after the braces. Braces themselves are usually worn from anywhere between a few months to years. Instead of getting metal braces, clear aligners can also help with crossbite teeth. 

Headgear 

It’s an orthodontic appliance, but it’s not worn inside the mouth. It is also used for the alignment of the teeth and the position of the jaw by applying gentle pressure. It is possible for your headgear to have a chin cup and forehead pad. It may also be attached to braces. Usually, this is worn by children for the duration of 1-2 years. 

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns or caps are a type of dental restoration that can also be used to correct a mild case of crossbite. The permanent tooth beneath is shaved, and a dental cap is placed on top, which helps reshape the tooth. Here, it should be noted that crowns cannot fix a more severe crossbite. For that, you’ll need to consider other treatment options.

Jaw Surgery 

In more severe cases of crossbite teeth in adults, jaw surgery is recommended. In this, the position and shape of the jaw are adjusted. You may need additional orthodontic treatments like braces in addition to jaw surgery. 

How Much Does a Crossbite Teeth Treatment Cost?

Orthodontic treatments are only available on the NHS when it is “clinically necessary. “Minor irregularities” are not treated. If you’re getting it privately, the cost of treatment varies depending on the type of dental work you need, how long it will take to complete and whether you need surgery. 

In this case, surgery is going to be the most expensive. After that are braces and headgear, which can also cost thousands of pounds, including all the check-ups. Palate expanders are relatively cheaper, but they can still cost more than a thousand pounds. Crowns may be the cheapest option, but it depends on how many crowns you need and what material they are made of. Although, keep in mind that dental caps are not always the best treatment option.

Can A Crossbite Self-Correct? 

It is not common for a crossbite to self-correct. Treatment is recommended, and it should take place as soon as possible. A case study of a 9-year-old Chinese boy reported the self-correction of an anterior crossbite. 

Initially, the treatment was delayed because of the presence of open tooth roots of 2 teeth in the upper jaw. However, one year later, the problem had corrected itself. But, the chances of this happening are very low. 

What Happens If You Don’t Correct A Crossbite? 

It’s not always medically necessary to treat every kind of crossbite. However, you should consult your dentist about that. If the problem is severe and left untreated, it can end up causing permanent damage to your teeth since a crossbite can make it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene. The headaches and muscle pain can also inhibit normal functioning. 

Concluding Remarks

A crossbite occurs when the teeth are not properly aligned. While normally, the upper teeth sit slightly in front of the lower ones, in the case of a cross, the opposite happens to a significant degree. It can also affect the aesthetics of the smile, as well as cause various aches and pains as well as difficulties speaking and eating. In addition, the teeth become more difficult to keep clean, so they’re more likely to develop cavities. It can also end up causing facial asymmetry.

Keeping these things in mind, early treatment is recommended for this. It is easier to shape the jaw of a child because the bones are soft and still developing. However, you can also get treated as an adult. Different orthodontic appliances are used for this purpose, but if the problem is too severe, surgery may be recommended. Not every kind of crossbite will cause a problem. However, it’s best to consult your dentist about it. They may require an X-ray and take an impression of your teeth.