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Crossbite: Effects & Treatments

crossbite diagram

Many orthodontic patients have heard of over and underbite. These bite position concerns are more common than crossbite. They occur when the top row of teeth protrudes too far over the bottom teeth (overbite) or the bottom teeth protrude too far under top teeth (underbite). These bite alignment concerns make it difficult to chew and speak clearly.

They can also change the shape of the face without treatment. Similarly, crossbite occurs when the teeth are positioned incorrectly on one or both sides of the mouth. While this is the rarer of the bite alignment concerns treated by dentists and orthodontists, it can cause the most severe issues for patients when it comes to speaking and chewing. Correcting this alignment issue is important to ensure the overall form and function of your smile.

What is Crossbite?

Crossbite occurs when the top row of teeth bite down inside the bottom row of teeth. This can cause the teeth to then protrude over the bite on the opposite side or only effect the position of the bite on one side.

How Does it Affect Your Oral Health?

When teeth are positioned incorrectly, too much pressure may be placed one or more teeth, increasing risk for uneven dental wear and chips and cracks in the enamel. The teeth can also be more difficult to clean, which increases chances for tooth decay and gum disease. Uneven strain is often placed on one or both temporomandibular joints (TMJ), the connective tissues that hold the jaw and skull bones together and allow the mouth to open and close. Damage to the TMJ can lead to painful or impeded jaw movement called TMJ dysfunction. Patients with crossbite are also more likely to grind and clench teeth both while awake and asleep. This chronic bite dysfunction is called bruxism, and it can cause severe damage to the smile without proper treatments.

Can Crossbite be Treated with Invisalign?

Crossbite, especially severe crossbite, is usually treated in childhood or early adolescence using palatal or maxillary expanders or surgery. However, crossbite can also be treated later in life using traditional orthodontics or Invisalign clear braces. When treated using traditional bracket and wire braces, patients will need to use elastics. These rubber bands will be placed and replaced several times each day, but the pressure from elastics causes the entire jaw to move into position more quickly and comfortably. Invisalign is able to produce the same results using just clear, plastic alignment trays to shift teeth and the entire bite into the ideal placement over the course of about twelve months of treatment.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.