Crossbite 101

In order to be able to treat any condition, we first have to define what it is. With that being said, a crossbite is a malocclusion, or bite problem where teeth have a more lingual or buccal position than their corresponding teeth in the lower or upper dental arch.  

To further simplify it, a crossbite can simply be detected by observing whether your upper teeth fit behind your lower ones. Now, almost anyone can fit their upper teeth behind their lower teeth when trying, however, with a crossbite, this is present when your mouth is at rest as well. If this seems a bit familiar, it’s because a crossbite is fairly similar to an underbite. However, as opposed to an underbite, a crossbite doesn’t affect all of your teeth, but only some.

And, if you’re looking to solve your crossbite situation or any other dental problem, you’ll be happy to know that Bronzeville Orthodontics has got you covered. And, along with a wide variety of orthodontic solutions, Bronzeville Orthodontics also offers professional teeth whitening. In other words, your perfect smile is waiting for you on State Street, Chicago, IL. And now, let’s get to the matter at hand.

Types of Crossbite

There are actually two general types of crossbites: a posterior crossbite and an anterior crossbite. A posterior crossbite happens when the upper back teeth sit inside the lower teeth. And, an anterior crossbite is slightly more complex, since it differs from an underbite. In this case, your upper front teeth can be found sitting behind your bottom front teeth. 

Causes of Crossbite 

Before we get into discussing how to treat a crossbite, we first need to figure out what causes it. And, that’s relatively simple, since the two main types of influential factors can be separated into dental causes and skeletal causes. Additionally, those two types of causes can be influenced by other factors, which we will discuss more below.


It’s important to note that both dental and skeletal causes can be genetic. So, if someone in your family has a crossbite, chances are other cases of crossbite may also pop up somewhere along the family tree.

Circumstantial factors 

Circumstantial factors are also relevant. For example, if your baby teeth were late in their process, and your adult teeth were also late as a result, you could have subsequently developed a crossbite. Additionally, certain habits such as thumb-sucking and mouth breathing in later childhood can also be major contributors when it comes to crossbites.

Some of the more specific causes of crossbite include the following:

  • Thumb, finger, or pacifier sucking, which tends to push out the teeth
  • Tongue thrusting while swallowing
  • Remaining baby teeth that haven’t fallen out
  • Missing teeth
  • Early loss of baby teeth which causes tooth drifting
  • A small jaw that doesn’t leave enough space for teeth
  • Teeth that are too large for correct alignment
  • Cleft lip
  • Cleft palate
  • Mouth breathing

Symptoms and Complications Associated With Crossbite 

While many think crossbite is merely a cosmetic issue, that’s unfortunately not the case. Along with being an aesthetic problem, a crossbite can also be the source of the following symptoms:

  • Jaw and tooth pain
  • Tooth wear
  • Tooth decay
  • Receding gums
  • Cavities
  • Enamel breakdown
  • Jaw shifting
  • Unbalanced or asymmetrical facial features
  • Sleep apnea
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Headaches
  • Difficulties with speaking and forming specific sounds
  • Pains affecting the shoulder muscles and the neck and jaw area

Crossbite Treatment Options

When it comes to treating crossbites, early treatment is a top priority, this is crucial to preventing jaw problems and other dental issues. And, while it’s best to treat a crossbite in childhood, while the jaw and facial structure are still developing, treating it in adulthood is also possible.

When it comes to treating crossbites in children, an orthodontist will most likely advise you to wait until your child is around 7 or 8 to start the treatment. Additionally, the treatment plan may depend on the severity or the cause of the crossbite. And now, let’s get into discussing the various crossbite treatment options available. 

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is an appliance that sits attached to your upper teeth and is placed against the roof of the mouth. It is adjusted periodically by your orthodontist in order to slowly widen your jaw and palate. 


Braces are made to put pressure on your teeth and bones and move the teeth into the right position. Additionally, you can have braces and a palatal expander at the same time. 

Removable Appliances

Removable appliances with a spring are often suggested if you happen to have an upper front tooth behind your lower tooth. The spring is there to put pressure on the tooth and works to move it forward and the appliance is there to keep your other teeth in place. Removable appliances are usually recommended in cases of younger children. 

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are removable braces that are made out of clear plastic and are used to correct misaligned teeth. Unlike regular braces, clear aligners are completely transparent and discreet, so many choose to wear them because of these qualities. 

Fixed Palatal Crib

This appliance is specifically made to prevent thumb and finger sucking, which is one of the common causes of crossbites. Typically, most kids tend to stop their finger-sucking habits between the ages of 2-4, either on their own or with the guidance of their parents. However, if the habit proves to be persistent, your chosen orthodontist will suggest this form of treatment.

Myofunctional therapy

Myofunctional therapy is used to teach patients how to chew and swallow properly to avoid the motion of the tongue pushing the teeth out of place. It is also used in teaching patients how to breathe through their nose, as opposed to breathing through their mouth, which oftentimes causes problems. This form of therapy can be done alongside other treatments.

By Manali