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What is a Crossbite and Does it Need to be Fixed?

By August 8, 2022March 4th, 2024Blog, Orthodontics

We’ve seen it all at our Kelowna orthodontic practice when it comes to orthodontic concerns. From under- and overbites to crowded or spaced out teeth to crossbites, flared teeth and open bites, there are so many different types of orthodontic issues, all of which are incredibly common (and treatable!). But while terms like “overbite” or “crowded teeth” are pretty self-explanatory, conditions like crossbites tend to be less understood.

The Straight Smiles team is here to support our patients at every stage of their journey to healthier, straighter smiles. A big piece of that is helping to educate patients on common orthodontic issues that they or their children might be experiencing. Since we are often asked “what is a crossbite?”, we’re taking the opportunity to dive deep into this common orthodontic condition. In this post, we’ll answer all your questions about crossbites, including:

  • What is a crossbite?
  • What causes a crossbite?
  • Does crossbite need to be treated?
  • How to fix a crossbite
  • How to treat a crossbite in adults
  • What does crossbite treatment cost?

What Is a Crossbite?

A crossbite refers to a condition that occurs when some of the top teeth sit inside of the bottom teeth when the jaws are closed together. A crossbite can either be an anterior crossbite or a posterior crossbite; the former occurs when the crossbite affects the teeth in the front of your mouth, while the latter occurs when it affects the teeth at the back of your mouth.

When patients have a crossbite, it’s natural to compensate and make space for the jaws to close by shifting the jaw to one side. Over time, this can create permanent changes in the facial structure. This is why catching and treating a crossbite early is so important. With proactive orthodontic treatment, we can bring the upper and lower jaw into optimal alignment, avoiding the long-term side effects of crossbite.What Causes a Crossbite?

What Causes a Crossbite?

If you suspect that you or your child may have a crossbite, or if you’ve recently been diagnosed with the condition, you’re likely wondering what caused it in the first place. In most cases, since crossbites are often brought on by variations in jaw and tooth size, crossbites are the result of genetics. If a family member had this type of bite misalignment, you may want to see an orthodontist in Kelowna to find out if you’re at risk for developing a crossbite.

That said, crossbites can also be caused by the early loss of primary teeth. If the permanent teeth start to come in before you’ve lost all your baby teeth, they may not have enough space to develop properly, leading to jaw misalignment. Oral trauma or injury, as well as certain oral habits, may also contribute to the development of a crossbite.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Crossbite?

So do you have to treat a crossbite? To prevent long-term, permanent orthodontic concerns, yes, you should always have a crossbite assessed, diagnosed and treated by an orthodontic specialist. We mentioned before that without treatment, a crossbite can lead to foundational changes to your facial structure, especially in kids and teens whose mouths are still developing. That’s because patients often shift their jaw to one side, overcompensating to make it possible to close their upper and lower teeth.

In addition, crossbites are often linked to a narrow upper jaw and palate which can create bite and breathing issues, as well as loose teeth or jaw pain, if left untreated. In the case of a crossbite that occurs at the front of the mouth, this type of orthodontic condition may also lead to chipped teeth or gum problems.

How to Fix a Crossbite

You’re now well aware of why we need to treat a crossbite, but how exactly do you fix it? The first step is to see your orthodontic specialist in Kelowna to get an accurate assessment, diagnosis and crossbite treatment plan. But whether you choose to get traditional braces or ceramic braces, Invisalign or Invisalign Teen, orthodontics are the best way to treat a crossbite. By gradually putting pressure on the teeth and jaw to guide your bite, these orthodontic appliances bring the mouth into optimal alignment.

In more serious cases, your orthodontist may first recommend the use of a palatal expander, a type of fixed or removable orthodontic appliance used to make the upper jaw wider, to make space for the lower teeth to fit inside the upper teeth. This would be the first step before progressing to an appliance that moves the teeth, such as braces or clear aligners.

The sooner we treat a crossbite, the better. Since kids’ and teens’ mouths are still growing and developing, it’s best to intervene with preventive orthodontics early on to stop the condition from progressing any further. This gives us the best opportunity to prevent longer term effects, like those facial changes we were talking about, and create a healthy, strong foundation for a beautiful smile.

Can You Fix a Crossbite as an Adult?

In a best case scenario, we prefer to resolve a crossbite before all the permanent teeth have erupted. But if you’re an adult with a crossbite, don’t worry! We can absolutely help you get a smile you love with orthodontic treatment. In most cases, crossbite treatment for adults starts with a palatal expander to widen the jaw, then treatment with braces or clear aligners like Invisalign. In extreme cases, surgery may be the best recommended course of action to help you achieve your smile goals.

Cost of Crossbite Treatment

If you’re worried about the cost of crossbite treatment, you’re not alone. Finances are one of the biggest barriers to people getting the orthodontic care they need and deserve. At Straight Smiles, we believe everyone should have access to orthodontic care, regardless of their financial situation. That’s why we strive to make orthodontic treatment affordable and accessible to all of our patients and their families. We’re completely transparent about our fees and we’ll even provide you with a written financial quote before you get started so there are no surprises. We accept insurance if your plan provides coverage, and we’ll help explain your coverage and options to make the process as seamless as possible.

Think you or your child might have a crossbite? Looking for a second opinion? Have more questions about how the treatment process for crossbite works? Contact Straight Smiles to chat with our orthodontic experts or book a complimentary consultation today.

Dr. James Scramstad

Author Dr. James Scramstad

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