Have you noticed that a few of your child’s upper teeth have grown behind their bottom teeth instead of in front? This is a common orthodontic issue in kids, and it is called a crossbite. Although there are many forms of crossbite, each has its own effect on your child’s bite and confidence.
Usually, a crossbite involves just a few of your child’s upper teeth growing slightly behind or inside their lower ones – which can also be called an underbite, but sometimes the misalignment can be larger. Whatever the severity, crossbites can grind down your child’s teeth, affect their smile and potentially even harm their gums or affect their jaw growth.
Luckily, crossbites of all kinds can be fixed with the right orthodontic treatment. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about crossbites, as well as how orthodontists are trained to help.
Upper teeth should all ideally sit in front of their bottom teeth. If a few top teeth are growing slightly behind their lower teeth, this is what an orthodontist would call a crossbite.
There are two main types depending on which upper teeth are affected:
If your child’s front upper teeth are sitting behind their lower ones, this is called an anterior crossbite.
A bilateral crossbite may be on both sides, while a unilateral crossbite is only evident on one side.
There can be several different causes of a crossbite including:
- Delayed loss of baby teeth
- poor habits including thumb sucking
- The abnormal eruption of permanent teeth
It can be easier to treat a crossbite when it is addressed early, so it is a good idea to bring your child in for their first consultation with an orthodontist at age 8 so that they can assess their growth and help you make a long-term plan.
Untreated crossbites can cause significant tooth, gum and jaw complications. A crossbite with one or more front teeth can lead to loosening of the opposing tooth or teeth, gum recession and tooth wear. A posterior crossbite can lead to uneven jaw growth, facial asymmetry and tooth wear.
Even if your child only has one tooth in crossbite, it is definitely worth seeking orthodontic correction before any of these potential complications arise as their bite can change significantly as they grow.
Braces are a common treatment method for crossbites, but it may not be your only option. Your orthodontist may suggest a fixed or removable expander appliance for a posterior crossbite, and either limited braces or a plate for an anterior crossbite. Clear aligners can even be used in some instances.
As there are many different treatment options and appliance types that can be used for crossbite correction, and the choice will depend on the position and severity of the crossbite.
Orthodontists are trained to diagnose and assess the severity of crossbites in children. They will discuss this with you and help you choose the right kind of treatment for your child’s circumstances.
Only a specialist orthodontist has three years of additional training to advise and undertake the right treatment for your child. Explore our Orthodontist Finder Tool to find a specialist near you. They will help you make the most cost-effective decision about how to treat your child’s crossbite.