While crossbite can create long-term problems for your teeth, it can be quickly fixed with the right dentist and treatment.
When most people think of orthodontists, they think of crooked teeth, overcrowding, front teeth gaps. However, there is much more to the world of orthodontics than teeth placement and spacing. Bite problems, or malocclusion, occur when the jaw or teeth don’t come together correctly, ruining the fit and shape of your bite.
One such malocclusion, crossbite, forms when one or more of the upper teeth sit behind the lower ones when your mouth is closed. There are two types of crossbite: anterior and posterior. Anterior crossbite occurs when the front teeth are involved and posterior when the side and back teeth are. Crossbite is often mistaken for underbite as they both lead your upper teeth to rest behind the lower ones. However, underbite affects the entire jaw, while crossbite only occurs to a specific section at most. In some cases, crossbite only impacts a single tooth.
As your mouth relies on your smile's occlusion for talking and eating, crossbite can make mealtimes and social hangouts uncomfortable or even nerve-wracking. Crossbite at an early age can also be an early warning sign of future jaw development problems. Left untreated, this can lead to several painful issues:
Bruxism (clenching and grinding teeth)
Enamel erosion and teeth sensitivity
Neck, shoulder, and jaw pain
Sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders
Additionally, this malocclusion can make it harder for you to care for your teeth. By failing to brush and floss as well as you should, your teeth will be at an increased risk for tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Left alone, these dental health issues can ruin your mouth further and potentially lead to tooth loss.
There are several different reasons our patients might develop crossbite:
Genetics. Crossbite can be caused by either dental or skeletal issues, which often have at least some part of a genetic component. People with a family history of crossbite are likely to develop crossbite too.
Late tooth emergence. Delays in baby teeth falling out and abnormal eruptions for incoming adult teeth can also lead to crossbite.
Prolonged incorrect pressure. Long-term thumb sucking and mouth breathing can place uneven stress on a child's developing smile. This pushes teeth out of alignment and causes the jawbone to become distorted.
Crossbite Treatment Options
To fix your crossbite, our South Pasadena Dental dentists will correct your jaw, palate, or teeth using one or more of the following procedures:
As their names suggest, palate expanders widen the upper jaw to allow more room for your teeth. Standard devices use a fixed, spider-like appliance that stretches across the roof of your mouth and gradually widens over four to six months. As with most other orthodontic treatments, it is most effective with younger children while their mouths and jaws are still growing and developing.
Expanders are typically used as the first part of a two-part treatment as this device won’t actively move your teeth where we need them. Once there is enough space for us to work with, braces or clear aligners will be used to shift your smile into place.
Orthodontic treatment allows you to address both jaw and teeth alignment problems and actively move everything into their final positions. Invisalign uses clear aligner trays custom-made to fit your mouth using molds and impressions taken by your orthodontist. You will switch out your current tray for the next in the series every two weeks, allowing you to push your teeth into healthier, proper positions gradually.
In addition to crossbite, clear aligners can simultaneously correct:
Overbite and underbite
Gaps between teeth
Sometimes your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction before starting your invisible braces treatment, especially when overcrowding is also involved. Removing a tooth or two gives a similar effect to an expander, giving your mouth room for us to move your teeth where we want.
When only one or two teeth with relatively minor crossbite need to be fixed, you don’t need to have a comprehensive treatment done. Instead, dental veneers can be used to reshape them, look, position, and all. These porcelain shells are crafted into the perfect design for your teeth, affecting their length, shape, angle, and color. The underlying enamel must be slightly shaved to prevent any bulkiness or awkwardness.
Veneers are not an option for our younger patients as they rely on your smile being stable and unchanging. A cosmetic dentist crafts these porcelain shells to fit and complete your tooth as it is now. Women's mouths are still growing and developing until around 17 years old, and men around 20 years old. If a patient's mouth is in flux, gaps between their dental veneers and gum line can appear, ruining their smile's natural look.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Invisalign As Good As Braces?
Many patients ask us how effective clear aligners are without brackets and wires when it comes to the Invisalign vs braces question. Modern braces have been in use for over 200 years, but aligners were only invented at the end of the '90s. While Invisalign doesn't have the same history to back it up, it has the results to prove itself. In most cases, clear aligners aren't just as good as braces. They're better.
Invisalign has several unique advantages over bracket braces:
Almost invisible. When someone has braces, it's easy to tell as metal and colorful elastics don't hide themselves. Since Invisalign is made of clear plastic, it can be difficult for even dental professionals to notice them! Although there are clear braces made of tooth-colored ceramic, these more unobtrusive braces can't match Invisalign.
Faster treatment. Invisalign and braces align your teeth using different methods, which affects their timelines. While braces move each tooth, root and all, at once, clear aligners only focus on a single area at once. As crossbite doesn’t affect the whole mouth but a specific area, this is especially helpful. Dental braces usually take around 18 months to 3 years to complete, depending on the severity. However, Invisalign requires only 12 to 18 months, and it can sometimes be done in as little as 6 with more minor cases.
Removable. Braces are cemented to the fronts of your teeth, allowing them to be used the required 24/7. However, Invisalign trays only need to be worn 20 to 22 hours each day, so they are designed to slip on and be taken out easily. This leaves patients the freedom to remove them when eating or during their dental hygiene routines.
There are only a few cases where your orthodontist would tell you that you aren’t eligible for Invisalign and should get traditional braces instead:
Your orthodontic problems are severe
Your tooth needs to be rotated
The teeth need to be moved vertically
Unless your crossbite is severe or complex, your malocclusion won’t be a problem for clear aligners.
How Much Does It Cost For Invisalign?
There is no one price for Invisalign treatment. Your cost depends on several crucial factors, like your maloccuclusion's complexity and expected treatment time. Your practitioner can also have an effect, such as seeing an orthodontist or an oral surgeon. While some dental insurance plans don't cover Invisalign and other clear aligners, many full coverage ones do. If you have any questions about your Invisalign cost, please contact our South Pasadena dental office at (626) 325-0331 to schedule an appointment. We will go over each part of your treatment timeline, and we can discuss our alternative financing options with you too.
Can Adults Have Palatal Expanders?
While they are more effective during childhood and early teenhood, adults can still correct their overbite with palate expanders. However, many adults choose to use a removable expander rather than a fixed one. These expanders are worn only at night and can help with slight to moderate widening of the mouth.
Are Veneers Safe Long-Term?
Since porcelain veneers require shaving a tooth's outer enamel, many patients worry that this process isn't a safe option for their teeth. However, this shaving is incredibly minimal—only about 0.5mm—meaning it will not go any farther than the enamel layer. With the enamel still intact, your sensitive inner dentin and dental pulp layers are still protected from plaque, bacteria, and decay. The porcelain is the same used in dental crowns, meaning that it won't harm your tooth. It instead keeps it strong against decay and physical trauma alike.
For some patients, veneers can actually make their smiles healthier. By removing a small part of the enamel, your cosmetic dentist can also remove surface-level tooth decay trying to eat through it. Then, the veneer’s porcelain shell can act as a shield against future bacteria and decay, keeping the tooth healthy for years and even decades to come.