You’ve likely heard of an overbite and underbite, but have you heard anything about crossbites? What are they exactly? And how are you supposed to fix them before they create issues that can affect your child all throughout their life? Though the idea of orthodontic problems in a child might sound terrifying, don’t panic! We’ve got you covered.
What is a crossbite?
A crossbite is a malocclusion, or a misalignment, of the teeth. Dental or skeletal issues can cause these, but they can usually be repaired with the help of braces. The severity of a crossbite varies significantly. It can affect one or more teeth or even the entire jaw. There are two main kinds of crossbites:
This kind of crossbite occurs when the rear upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth. The affected teeth can look tilted toward the tongue.
This kind of crossbite occurs when one or multiple of the upper front teeth sit inside the lower teeth. Though similar, the anterior crossbite is not to be confused with an underbite. When a person has an underbite, all the upper teeth sit behind the lower ones.
What are the causes of a crossbite?
Sometimes, a child is born with a crossbite. Other times, things such as thumb sucking or late use of a pacifier, or even the early loss of baby teeth, can create the problem.
Can’t I just leave it alone?
If your child doesn’t seem phased by their crossbite, it can be tempting to simply leave it alone. After all, why fix something that isn’t bugging them?
If left untreated, a crossbite can wreak all sorts of havoc on their bite. If severe enough, malocclusion can create issues when chewing food, which can make it harder for proper digestion. As the jaw grows, it might not develop properly, making the issue worse and harder to repair over time.
If the jaw develops unevenly, it can create an unbalanced appearance to the face and smile and contribute to jaw pain problems, such as TMJ. The wear and tear on the teeth will become uneven, harming the enamel and opening it up to infections and cavities.
Whenever there are misaligned teeth, it can be very difficult to care for them properly. It can be difficult to fit floss into the tight spaces, or simply hard to get that toothbrush in the right place. Over time, this creates the perfect playground for the bacteria-filled plaque to form cavities.
Early orthodontic care can prevent further issues from forming. This is often done before their jaw is done growing, sometimes even before all of those baby teeth have been lost. This will diminish the chances of further dental issues and set your child up for a life full of healthy, confident smiles.
How are crossbites repaired?
As with anything, there are several options to repair a crossbite, each chosen with the specific patient in mind. Crossbites don’t repair themselves as the child grows, so it’s important to address the problem early. Depending on the severity of the crossbite, treatments can begin as early as seven years old.
A palate expander is a device that sits behind the teeth on the roof of the mouth. Over time, the dentist will adjust it to gradually expand the jaw.
Braces can be placed on the affected teeth and gradually adjusted over time to move those misaligned teeth back into the desired location. Sometimes, these will be used at the same time as a palate expander.
Clear aligners are similar to braces, except they are made with a clear cap that fits tightly over the affected teeth.
How can we avoid crossbites?
There are some things that can be done to keep a crossbite from forming or getting worse.
Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking
It’s recommended to wean your child from the pacifier between the ages of two and four. Though this can definitely be a difficult task to accomplish, it’ll help your child’s bite in the long run.
If your child tends to suck their thumb, this can also create the same problems that a pacifier would. This can also be a difficult habit to break, though most children tend to stop on their own between the ages of two and four.
Missing or Extra Teeth
If your child loses any baby teeth too early or doesn’t lose them at the appropriate time, be sure to take them in for a visit to their dentist. The other teeth will slowly migrate to fill in that missing space, creating bite issues. Or, if there’s an extra tooth, it can push the others out of alignment.
Regular Dental Visits
Keeping up with those regular dental cleanings can help find any issues before they have a chance to become a problem. The dentist can point out if there’s an area that needs a little more attention, or take care of a cavity before it causes problems with the neighboring teeth.
Who to call?
Here at We Make Kids Smile, we offer multiple kinds of orthodontic treatment just for kids! If you suspect your child might have a crossbite, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment. We’d love to help your child smile confidently!