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Home > Dental Conditions > Malocclusion > Crossbite Is A Situation That Bites
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Crossbite: A Situation That Bites!

Crossbite – Set off posterior and anterior crossbite problems.

It's not an overbite or underbite, but you know you have a bite problem. The way your teeth touch when you bite down might seem a little off, or you may notice the structure of your face isn't perfectly symmetrical. If so, you should make an appointment to visit the dentist. Your little problem may be a sign that you have an anterior crossbite or a posterior crossbite.

Not all crossbites are noticable, but there are plenty of signs to alert you of a problem. Mouth breathing or snoring in children, problems with chewing or a chin that appears off-center are all symptoms of a crossbite.

If you suspect you or your child has a crossbite, you may want to read on. An adult crossbite is harder to correct, so early treatment may be the key to putting your bite back on track.

What Is a Crossbite?

In order to best understand a crossbite, you need to know a little bit about dental anatomy. Your maxillary teeth are the teeth found on your upper jaw, and mandibular teeth are found on the bottom. Ideally, the upper jaw should slightly overlap the lower jaw in order for teeth to align. Each of your molars is also shaped distinctly to allow for proper closure, with the inner cusps (the raised, rounded areas at the top of each tooth) of the maxillary teeth falling into the center grooves of the mandibular teeth. A crossbite occurs when the relationship between the maxillary teeth and mandibular teeth are reversed, appearing "crossed." This may happen because the upper jaw is too narrow or the bottom teeth have shifted to one side of the mouth.

There are two types of crossbites: anterior and posterior. An anterior crossbite refers to the front of your mouth, and a posterior crossbite affects the teeth on either side of your mouth. In an anterior crossbite, one or more of the front maxillary teeth close behind the front mandibular teeth. A posterior crossbite is recognized by the top molars touching the inner cusps of the bottom molars rather than outer cusps. A posterior crossbite can be unilateral (on one side) or bilateral (on both sides). For example, if the top back teeth fall behind the bottom back teeth on only one side of the mouth, you have a unilateral posterior crossbite. If both sets of maxillary molars close behind the mandibular teeth, it's called a bilateral posterior crossbite.

What Causes a Crossbite?

Crossbites are often hereditary, but sometimes environmental factors can influence whether you'll get a crossbite. An adult crossbite can result from the delayed loss of baby teeth. When baby teeth don't fall out, permanent teeth may come in behind them, causing them to rest behind the mandibular teeth. If, as a child, you had a crossbite in your primary teeth, you will most likely have an adult crossbite as well.

Because children's jaws are still developing, they are at greater risk of letting outside influences determine how their bite forms. Like with other malocclusions, prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier use can cause an anterior crossbite. Mouth breathing in children can also cause a posterior crossbite to form. When you breathe through your nose, your tongue rests on the roof of your closed mouth. This tongue positioning is important to forming the structure of your upper jaw. Mouth breathing can cause the tongue position to change, causing the upper jaw to narrow as it develops.

Treating a Crossbite

Unfortunately, an adult crossbite is permanent and will not correct itself on its own. While orthodontics is the main treatment for both children and adults, the patient's age and the severity of the crossbite will determine the type of procedure used. Either an anterior crossbite or posterior crossbite can be corrected at any age with dental braces, but early dental treatment is often recommended as children's jaws are still forming and can be repositioned through expansion.

Maxillary expansion is used to broaden the upper jaw. A device known as an expander is adhered to the roof of the mouth. The expander has a small screw at its base that is turned daily with a key to widen the appliance. Although expansion treatment may only take a couple of months, the appliance is not removed for several more months to keep teeth from shifting back into their original positions. Retainers and other oral appliances may also be used to achieve this goal. Maxillary expansion may be combined with or followed by braces for complete treatment. Crossbite treatment may also include removing the child's tonsils, as enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause mouth breathing in children.

Complications from a Crossbite

Whether you have an anterior crossbite or posterior crossbite, it should be treated to prevent complications. Crossbites have been linked to TMJ, a painful jaw disorder that is often the source of headaches, shoulder and neck pain and lockjaw. Crossbites also exert pressure on your jaw that can cause enamel wear, loose teeth, receding gums and asymmetry of the face.

Correcting a crossbite can help prevent these problems and may even change facial structure for the better. If you currently suffer from TMJ, adult crossbite treatment may relieve your symptoms. If you think you have an anterior crossbite, posterior crossbite or any other bite problem, we can help.

Call us at 1-866-970-0441 to find a dentist for crossbite treatment today.

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