A crossbite is a dental condition that affects the way your teeth are aligned. The main sign of having a crossbite is that upper teeth fit behind your lower teeth when your mouth is closed or at rest. This can affect teeth in the front of your mouth or toward the back of your mouth.
This condition is similar to another dental condition called an underbite. Both are types of dental malocclusion. The main difference between a crossbite and an underbite is that a crossbite only impacts a group of teeth, and an underbite affects them all.
A crossbite can cause complications and painful symptoms, but it’s possible to correct it with treatment from a dental professional.
This article will cover everything you’re wondering about if you suspect you or your child have a crossbite.
Having neatly aligned jaws that fold over each other is considered an important indication of your oral health.
As you might guess from its name, a crossbite refers to teeth that don’t fit over each other when your mouth is closed. When you have a crossbite, entire groups of your lower teeth may fit in front of your top teeth. This condition is considered
There are two classifications of crossbite: anterior and posterior.
- A posterior crossbite refers to the group of lower teeth toward the back of your mouth fitting over the teeth in your top jaw.
- An anterior crossbite refers to the group of teeth in the bottom front of your mouth fitting over the teeth of your top jaw.
A crossbite isn’t just a cosmetic problem. For adults, an ongoing crossbite can cause other symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- pain in your jaw or teeth
- tooth decay
- sleep apnea
- temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
- frequent headaches
- difficulty speaking or forming certain sounds
- pain in your jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles
Skeletal and dental causes may be genetic. This means that if other people in your family have had a crossbite, it may be more likely that you or your child might develop the condition, too.
There are also circumstantial factors. If your baby teeth didn’t come loose and fall out during your primary years, or if your adult teeth seemed delayed in coming in, your jawline and your other teeth may have developed a crossbite to compensate for those things.
Habits like mouth breathing and thumb sucking late into childhood might contribute to a crossbite.
Crossbites are typically corrected using orthodontic devices or surgical treatment methods.
Treatment times for adults and children vary widely, depending on the severity of the crossbite. It can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years to correct a crossbite.
If a crossbite is identified during childhood, treatment can begin before age 10. When the jaw is still developing during childhood, palate expanders can be used to widen the roof of your mouth and treat a crossbite. Traditional braces or dental headgear may also be used as a form of treatment.
Adults who have milder cases of crossbite can also use orthodontic treatments, including:
- removable palate expanders
- elastics that are prescribed by an orthodontist
For adults with a more severe crossbite, jaw surgery may be recommended.
The goal of jaw surgery is to reset and correctly align your jaw. While it heals, you may need to get additional treatments, such as braces, to ensure that the crossbite is fixed.
Medical insurance may cover some of your crossbite treatment if it’s classified as medically necessary. That is, if your crossbite is causing side effects negatively affecting your quality of life.
In these instances, a dentist or doctor can advocate for your insurance company to cover the cost of crossbite treatment.
Some dental insurance may cover crossbite treatment for dependent children if orthodontics are included in your insurance plan.
Dental insurance plans rarely cover orthodontic treatment for adults, but it may be worth inquiring about, especially if your treatment is deemed medically necessary.
Without insurance, your costs will continue to vary according to the degree of treatment you need to correct a crossbite.
- Jaw surgery is typically the most expensive option, costing over $20,000.
- Braces for children and for adults can range from $3,000 to $7,000.
- A palate expander is the simplest and most affordable option, landing between $2,000 and $3,000.
You can choose not to correct a crossbite. Keep in mind, though, that the downsides extend beyond aesthetics.
If you decide not to treat a crossbite, you may be more likely to develop other dental conditions. Teeth that aren’t aligned are more difficult to keep clean, which can increase your risk of dental decay and gum disease.
There are other chronic medical conditions associated with an uncorrected crossbite, including TMJ and sleep apnea.
A crossbite is a common condition that can lead to other complications if left untreated.
There are established and proven treatment methods to treat a crossbite in adults and in children. If you believe you might have a crossbite, make an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist for a diagnosis and to plan your next steps.