WHAT IS A CROSSBITE?
A crossbite is a form of teeth misalignment that occurs when a healthy bite is distorted and your teeth don’t fit together as they should. In a correct bite, the upper jaw teeth are placed slightly over the lower jaw teeth. A crossbite could look like your upper teeth (or tooth) are hiding behind your lower arch when you close your mouth or, reversely, your lower teeth overlapping your upper ones.
In most cases, crossbites are hereditary—if someone in your family had a misaligned bite, you should pay an orthodontist a visit and keep your oral health in check. At the same time, crossbites can also be circumstantial. If permanent teeth start to come in before all milk teeth have fallen out, they might not have enough room to assume their correct position or grow properly in place causing misalignment. Crossbite might also be a reflection of an unusual size of jaws or their odd alignment.
No matter the nature of your crossbite or the type, it can cause great discomfort and lead to an array of health concerns such as jaw pain, receding gums, and loose teeth. In the long run, just like any other form of teeth misalignment, crossbites might result in certain teeth chipping, sensitivity, and uneven wear to the enamel. Moreover, if your teeth don’t close in an aligned bite, the muscles on your face might not be equally engaged, causing strain, neck pain, or even headaches. Aesthetically speaking, a crossbite might be behind facial asymmetry, which, in its turn, can undermine your confidence.
Just like any type of malocclusion (or teeth misalignment), crossbite is treatable. The sooner you tackle your crossbite, the lower are your chances of developing any related orthodontic or dental concerns.
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF AN UNTREATED CROSSBITE?
If left untreated, crossbites can cause a myriad of health problems. Along with dental issues such as teeth grinding, irregular wear to the enamel, and loss of teeth, crossbite patients report developing headaches and muscle tension from the abnormal stress placed on the jaw. In severe cases, crossbites can affect jaw and face development, especially in young patients. In addition, a misaligned bite can leave a lasting mark escalating into a permanent deviation of the bones and skull on your face, speech impediments, and an unbalanced facial appearance.
If you suspect that you might have a crossbite, you need to see an orthodontist. Crossbites are usually treated using orthodontic braces to straighten crooked teeth and adjust their alignment.
Ceramic, metal, clear, or even removable, orthodontic braces come in many different forms to match various lifestyles and dental needs. By applying the right amount of pressure to push misaligned teeth where they belong, simple brackets and wires can fix a crossbite for a more glowing, healthy smile.
TREATING A CROSSBITE IN CHILDREN
Children with crossbite should begin treatment at an early age to enhance their chances of full correction and avoid any further shifts or deviations in their bite. When patients’ jaws are still growing, orthodontists can intervene early on to control the growth and steer it into the right direction. Therefore, most orthodontists recommend crossbite be addressed and fixed even before all of the permanent teeth have erupted.
A crossbite carried over from childhood may trigger severe pain in your jaw joint and the supporting muscles as you grow older. As a result, even simple motions such as opening your mouth while eating may be restricted causing major discomfort.
TREATING A CROSSBITE IN ADULTS
Although fixing crossbites while teeth and jaws are still developing might be faster and less complex, many adults with mild and moderate misalignment might get away with orthodontic braces. In some cases, surgery might be a part of the treatment plan.
Most orthodontists will offer multiple treatment options that might include orthodontic braces to move the teeth into their correct position, an expander to widen jaws, and aligners.
Under the guise of a minor crossbite might hide lasting dental and orthodontic issues. Treating a misaligned bite is more than investing in your oral health; it is being proactive about your overall health and taking steps to prevent any future complications. Healthy, even teeth can not only boost self-confidence but also offer a better taste of life.