What is a Crossbite & How to Fix it?

A normal person possesses 32 teeth. The upper set of teeth is aligned a little outside the lower teeth at the front and back and at sides, so that they meet correctly. This is called as proper occlusion or placement of teeth or a normal bite, which is required for proper chewing and eating. However, some people have malocclusion i.e., mal-aligned teeth resulting in conditions like crossbite, overbite, underbite, openbite.

What is a Crossbite & How to Fix it?

What is a Crossbite?

When the two rows of teeth are not aligned properly, it is called malocclusion or bad bite. Crossbite is one such type of abnormal bite where one or more upper teeth are placed behind the lower teeth instead of outside.

Types of Crossbite

Depending on its location in the mouth, there are two types of crossbites:

  • Anterior Crossbite: When crossbite involves the front upper teeth placed behind the lower teeth.
  • Posterior Crossbite: When crossbite involves the back upper teeth placed behind the lower teeth.

Crossbite is a least visible type of malocclusion and is often ignored. However, it can lead to serious health problems and should be treated by an experienced orthodontist.

Health Effects of a Crossbite

  • Lack of pleasant smile
  • Problems with chewing and speaking
  • Development of an uneven jaw
  • Painful pressure on the jaw, head and neck
  • Causes tooth decay, gum problems, unbalanced facial appearance
  • Presence of severe crossbite, results in development of inferiority complex and lead to loss of self-confidence.

Causes of Crossbite

There are different causes for the occurrence of crossbite as follows:

  • Inheritance
  • Delay in loss of milk or baby teeth
  • Use of pacifier for a long time
  • Thumb sucking
  • Crossbite developed due to jaw problems. The jaw size matters if the upper jaw is smaller than the lower jaw or there is mismatch between the jaws.
  • Oversized tonsils.

Diagnosis of Crossbite

The orthodontist performs physical examination of the teeth and records medical history and family history. Special dental X-rays are taken to examine the extent of teeth problem.

How to Fix Crossbite?

The problem of crossbite can be treated in children of 10-14 years of age and in the adults too. The following are the different types of treatment options available:

  • Use of Orthodontic Devices or Appliances:
    • Palate Expansion: Dental expansion procedure is used for adjustment of palate or jaw. The appliance or device is fixed to the upper back teeth. The special key present is turned by the patient gently at prescribed intervals which helps to widen the upper palate. Over time the appliance widens the patient’s upper jaw so that the lower teeth fit properly inside the arch of upper teeth and results in correction of the bite. Expansion of palate can take time from few weeks to a month. After the successful expansion, the appliance remains in place to help stabilize the teeth and bones in their new place.
    • Removable Expander: When very less expansion is required, it is achieved by wearing expanders by the adults during night time which allows widening of the upper palate.
    • Palatial Expansion by means of Surgery: A surgical procedure to fix crossbite is conducted where the surgeon breaks the jaw bone into several pieces. After surgery, the patient wears a custom made device and it allows wider expansion of the upper palate.
  • Use of Orthodontic Braces: Crossbites are treated using braces, which make the teeth straight and fix the upper and lower teeth to achieve the required adjustment of the bite.
  • Use of Aligners: Use can be made of Invisalign aligners. It is considered to be an easy treatment strategy. It comprises the use of transparent and clear aligner. It is custom made to fit the patient’s teeth and can be worn throughout the day. However, they can be used only for mild cases of crossbite as compared to the severe cases.
  • Surgery for Fixing Crossbite: In severe cases for adults, crossbite surgery is done where surgically the lower jaw is adjusted forward and the upper jaw is adjusted backward such that they both are brought in proper alignment.

Post Treatment Home Care for Crossbite

After treatment for crossbite the patient should take proper home care to prevent formation of cavities. These home cares includes:

  • Brushing of teeth twice a day and use of floss too
  • Use of antibacterial mouthwash.

Home Remedies and Prevention of Crossbite

Currently, there are no home remedies for the correction of crossbites. The only way to handle it is to prevent crossbites from taking place. Parents should discourage their children from prolong use of pacifiers, thumb sucking and nail biting. Constantly putting fingers in the mouth pose a risk of putting the teeth and jaw forward. Hence, these practices must be avoided at its best and an orthodontist or a good dentist must be consulted to correct the crossbite.

Conclusion

Crossbites can cause a lot of problems and they need to be treated as early as possible. The advent of modern technology in dental care has made a variety of treatments available for correction of crossbite and other dental problems. The crossbites in children need to be identified early, so that they can be treated early. Similarly, adults too can be treated with a combination of surgery and braces. It is essential that one needs to get an appropriate treatment for crossbite from a good orthodontist.

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