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Why a Crossbite Could Require Early Orthodontic Treatment

By February 24, 2022Blog
Early Orthodontic Treatment for Crossbite

What is a crossbite? Many of us are familiar with overbites and underbites but a crossbite is a bit different. One thing they all have in common though? They all start in childhood, which is why early orthodontic treatment can help.

It’s important to bring your child to an orthodontist like Dr. Buddy when they’re young so you can identify and prevent orthodontic issues like crossbite teeth before it worsens. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that a child’s first orthodontic check up should happen no later than seven years old. At this appointment, we might conclude that there’s nothing to worry about. Or, we might suggest monitoring your child’s teeth to keep tabs on issues that could develop. If we see malocclusion like a crossbite, Dr. Buddy, Dr. Adam, or Dr. Sarah might recommend treatment.

What is a crossbite?

Simply put, a crossbite is when some teeth sit inside some of the bottom teeth when your mouth is closed. Crossbite teeth can involve only one tooth or a group of teeth; it can happen with the front teeth (called an “anterior crossbite”) or at the back of your mouth (called a “posterior crossbite”).

Understandably, it’s easy to confuse a crossbite with an underbite when you’re looking in the mirror. The difference is that with a crossbite, the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth but the upper jaw doesn’t sit inside the lower jaw, while in an underbite, both the upper teeth and jaw sit inside the lower teeth and jaw.

What causes a crossbite in kids?

The most common causes for crossbite teeth include:

Genetics – A crossbite can run in the family: a narrow upper jaw or palate that results in either an anterior crossbite or posterior crossbite is typically an inherited trait.

Baby teeth that won’t fall out – Crossbite teeth in kids can happen when it takes too long to lose baby teeth. Sometimes, wiggly teeth can even tighten back up in the gums and refuse to fall out. When a baby tooth doesn’t fall out, a waiting adult tooth is prevented from erupting. And when the adult tooth finally erupts, it can be misaligned.

Mouth breathing – Did you know that mouth breathing can interfere with proper facial growth? If your kid already has a narrow upper jaw due to genetics, mouth breathing can contribute to the likelihood of a crossbite.

Prolonged infant oral habits – Baby habits like thumb or finger sucking, using a pacifier, and tongue thrust are normal for infants. But if these continue into early childhood or elementary school, they can put too much pressure on the teeth and palate, causing teeth to shift out of place or distort the jaw bone.

Why Fix a Crossbite with Early Orthodontic Treatment? 

First and foremost, treating a crossbite in kids can lessen the severity of orthodontic treatment later on. And fixing a crossbite in childhood rather than in the teen or adult years can be quicker and, honestly, less painful. Why? Because in childhood, the upper jaw is two separate parts; it begins fusing together after puberty. If a palate expander is needed to widen the jaw and fix a crossbite, the two halves of the jaw bone can be gently separated and stabilized more easily. Once the bone is one piece, expanding the upper jaw is more difficult and requires surgery.

If left untreated, a cross bite can lead to:

  • Speech impediments
  • Difficulties biting and chewing
  • Cracks or chips in teeth
  • Excessive or uneven wear on tooth enamel
  • Improper jaw function and positioning
  • Asymmetrical facial growth
  • Shifting the jaw to compensate for teeth not fitting together properly
  • Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Jaw pain, headaches, or TMJ pain
  • Feeling self-conscious about their teeth 

How to Fix a Crossbite?

With all these reasons to correct crossbite teeth, you might be wondering where to start! The first step is a visit to Davis Orthodontics. Our seven locations in Upstate SC are bright and welcoming, and we go out of our way to make orthodontic treatment fun and stress-free. 

At a free, initial consultation, a friendly team member takes painless, digital x rays and Dr. Buddy, Dr. Adam, or Dr. Sarah examines your child’s teeth. We then chat about our findings and what crossbite treatment might look like. 

Phase 1 interceptive orthodontic treatment

In talking about crossbite treatment, you’ll find “early orthodontic treatment” used interchangeably with “interceptive orthodontic treatment”. Rest assured, they’re the same thing and consists of two phases. In Phase 1 interceptive orthodontic treatment, we guide jaw and facial growth with orthodontic treatment  while your child is still growing, Treatment options? A fixed or removable appliance, strategically-timed tooth extractions, braces, or Invisalign®. 

Phase 2 uses braces or Invisalign® to move your child’s fully-grown adult teeth into their ideal positions.

Widening the jaw with a palate expander

In Phase 1 interceptive orthodontic treatment, a palate expander opens up a narrow jaw and palate, bringing anterior and posterior crossbites in alignment with bottom teeth. A palate expander is sometimes the first step in crossbite treatment for kids, which is then followed by braces.

Fixing a crossbite with braces

At Davis Orthodontics, we leverage the latest orthodontic technology so our patients can enjoy efficient, comfortable, aesthetic results. This definitely applies to our youngest patients. Crossbite braces for kids offer quick treatment times and precise results. And Phase 1 braces brackets can be placed on individual teeth or on the whole arch. Our patients can choose from four modern braces: Clarity™ ADVANCED ceramic braces, Incognito™ braces, traditional metal braces, and self-ligating braces.

Fixing a crossbite with Invisalign®

Can Invisalign fix crossbite teeth in kids? Yes, Invisalign can fix crossbite in kids, although teens and adults are more likely to use Invisalign. These clear aligners are helpful for single-tooth crossbites; because they cover biting surfaces, a misaligned tooth can move without the teeth around it interfering. For multiple-tooth crossbites or more severe cases, Invisalign might need the addition of attachments or elastics. Attachments are composite buttons bonded to your child’s teeth and work with Invisalign to achieve more complex teeth movements. Elastics, like the ones used with braces, are for aligning the jaws. 

Invisalign® Teen has special tabs that accommodate growing molars, and your child gets a few extra aligners in case they lose them.

Early Orthodontic Treatment at Davis Orthodontics

Now that you know all about crossbite teeth in kids, contact us today for a first appointment! Choose a virtual appointment, or an in-person visit at one of our seven Upstate, SC locations: Simpsonville, Greer, Spartanburg, Clemson, Anderson, Walhalla, or Greenville.