When most people think about orthodontic treatment, they associate it with straightening their teeth. While this is certainly one effect of orthodontic treatment, it is not the only thing that orthodontics corrects. Oftentimes, part of correcting the alignment of the teeth also involves correcting the alignment of bite as well. A misaligned bite is known as malocclusion and there are several different types. One type of malocclusion your orthodontist can fix is a crossbite.
A crossbite is when some of your upper teeth fix inside of your lower teeth. If your upper back teeth fit inside of your lower back teeth, then you have a posterior crossbite. If your upper front teeth fit inside your lower front teeth, then you have an anterior crossbite. Visually speaking, a crossbite can look similar to an underbite, however they are not the same. An underbite means that your entire lower jaw sites outside of your upper teeth, while a crossbite affects only certain teeth.
Crossbites often develop during childhood and can be the result of:
- Delayed loss of baby teeth
- Abnormal eruption of permanent teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Finger sucking
- Sucking on a pacifier
Unfortunately, once a crossbite develops, it will not resolve itself and will only go away with proper orthodontic treatment. While most people consider a crossbite to be a cosmetic problem, it affects more than just the look of your smile. In fact, crossbites can cause problems such as:
- Jaw and tooth pain
- Premature enamel wear
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
- Tooth decay
- Sleep apnea
- Trouble speaking properly
- Pain in the neck and shoulder
- Uneven jaw growth
- Having the jaw shift to one side
The more severe your crossbite, the more likely you are to develop these symptoms with varying levels of severity. As such, many orthodontists recommend having a crossbite treated to prevent these future problems and enhance the look of your smile. Treatment for crossbites will be based upon the type and severity of your crossbite, but most cases require the use of multiple orthodontic appliances. Here are some of the possible orthodontic treatments for a crossbite:
Like its name suggests, a palate expander works to expand the upper jaw, or palate. By expanding the upper jaw, this corrects the crossbite by allowing all the lower teeth to fit inside the upper teeth. There are different types of palate expanders that may be used. For children who are still growing, a fixed palate expander will likely be used to direct jaw growth. In adults or in those who only require minimal expansion, a removable expander may be used.
At some point, braces are often used to move the teeth into a better position in order to correct a crossbite. In most cases, braces may be used with a palate expander and/or elastics to help align the bite.
Some mild cases of crossbite may be able to be treated with Invisalign instead of traditional braces. However, Invisalign is generally not effective in treating more severe cases of crossbite.
In rare cases, surgery may be required to correct an extremely severe case of crossbite. When surgery is needed, the jaw is reset into the proper alignment. Braces are also generally used before and after surgery to keep the teeth aligned.
Dr. Williams is up to date with all of the latest techniques and theories in the practice of orthodontics and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthodontic care to every patient.