101 Guide to What is a Crossbite? Types, Causes, and Treatment

May 17, 2023 6 min read

101 Guide to What is a Crossbite? Types, Causes, and Treatment

A crossbite is a term used to describe a malocclusion (malocclusion is a fancy way to say a bad fit or alignment of the teeth). Often called a “bad bite” as the teeth just don’t fit well together. This misalignment can affect your oral health and cause discomfort or difficulty chewing. What a crossbite is, the various causes, and the most standard treatments are discussed in this post.



Crossbite 101: A crossbite occurs when one or more lower teeth touch the upper teeth directly or indirectly. The upper teeth should sit just outside the lower ones when your teeth are correctly aligned.


Crossbite vs Underbite vs Overbite

A crossbite is normally due to a misalignment of the jaw bones and means that one or more upper teeth are hitting or biting inside the lower teeth. An underbite is where the lower jaw, or teeth, are too far forward and are actually in front of the upper teeth. And an overbite is when the upper teeth go out too far forward, past the lower teeth.


One could actually have a mix of these, such as both a crossbite and an underbite. 



There are two types of crossbite: anterior (front) and posterior (rear). In an anterior crossbite, the front lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth when the jaw is relaxed whereas with a posterior crossbite, the lower back teeth are outside the upper back teeth when the jaw is at rest. Once again, It is possible to have both types at once.



Several things can cause a crossbite. 



Genetics is the main cause of crossbite development. Some people have a larger lower jaw and a smaller upper jaw from birth. A crossbite could also develop after the teeth erupt due to small palates and dental defects in the family.If so, an orthodontist might advise using a growth adjustment device. This device gets the patient ready for orthodontic treatment once the permanent teeth emerge as the device widens a child's upper jaw at a young age.


Prolonged Development Of Permanent Teeth
Over-retained baby teeth that do not fall out at the appropriate age can sometimes cause a crossbite. These baby teeth stop the underlying permanent teeth from erupting. In this instance, orthodontic treatment may be required to fix a crossbite caused by the delayed eruption of the permanent teeth. 



A child's jaw growth may be affected by sucking habits. Some of these habits include:

  •     Thumb sucking
  •     Finger sucking
  •     Bottle over-use

Find out more aboutmaintaining the dental health of your children.



In addition to the malalignment of the teeth, crossbite can have various physical signs which include:

  • Discomfort in the jaw joint or pain in the mouth or jaw
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty biting or chewing 
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Eroded tooth surfaces, the wearing away of enamel
  • Speech disorders (such as having a lisp)
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Altered facial characteristics, including asymmetry of the jaw and face
  • Cracked teeth and fissures



The optimal time to treat this kind of malocclusion is when the patient is young. However, it is definitely worth noting that even though adult restorations take longer to complete than younger ones, treatments are still available and effective.

According to theAmerican Dental Association (ADA), the dentist will ensure that there is sufficient room for the crossbite(s) to be properly aligned and that the bite(s) realignment will allow for proper opening and movement. In most all cases, the patient must wear an orthodontic device while receiving treatment for the issue. 


  1. Braces

The majority of cases of crossbite can be treated with braces. If there is more than one tooth involved, however, a dental expansion device or headgear may be needed.


  1. Clear Aligners (Invisalign)
    Orthodontic treatments for crossbites frequently use clear aligners for both comfort and visual appearance. Currently, the most famous brand of clear aligners is Invisalign. All of the upper and lower teeth are covered by aligners as this permits a tooth with a crossbite to move without being hindered by other teeth.


  1. Surgical Methods
    During crossbite surgery, the surgeon intentionally fractures the jaw bones in several locations then adds plates and screws to hold the jaw in place while it heals. Because of this, more extensive expansion is possible with surgery than with just a palate expander. As with any surgery, there are potential complications such as the risk of nerve damage in the area.


Getting Braces? Discover more:What Happens When You Don't Brush Your Teeth With Braces



Practicing proper dental hygiene is essential, especially if you have a crossbite. Crowded teeth can become a haven for bad bacteria and cracked teeth or worn down enamel are at higher risk for cavities and infections.

Here are some crucial care tips for caring for teeth with a crossbite:

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice daily.
  2. Use dental floss daily to remove plaque and food particles between your teeth.
  3. Visit your dentist for regular checkups and thorough cleanings.
  4. Keep your oral microbiome healthy and happy.*

* TheGreat Oral Health System will take care of restoring and maintaining a healthy oral environment



A crossbite can impact dental and general health if not fixed and left untreated can lead to dental problems,temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and even facial features that just don’t look right. Other problems such as malnutrition (due to poor chewing) and even headaches (from clenching and grinding) are just a few of the negatives.



Numerous factors, including the seriousness of the issue, the type of treatment used, and where it occurs might affect the cost of corrective treatment for a crossbite. Every case is different which is why it's best to consult a dentist or orthodontist who can design a treatment plan for you and offer a cost estimate based on your specific needs. Sometimes, dental insurance will cover part of the cost. And keep this in mind, even though the cost may be in the thousands of dollars the cheapest option might cost more in the long run as a poor job often needs to be redone!


Crossbite 101 in Summary

To ensure you get the best care possible, consult your dentist to explore available treatments to achieve a healthy, aligned bite. And, while a crossbite can make regular oral care more challenging, one should make one’s oral hygiene a habit and priority. Find agood oral hygiene regimen with our dental care system and get regular dental check-ups to preserve optimal oral health and avoid future issues.



Q: What does a crossbite look like?

A: A crossbite is when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned within the mouth. This can often be seen by one’s jaw sticking out or looking “pulled back” as well as very crowded or messy teeth.


Q: Can a crossbite be fixed?

A: Yes, there are several different ways to treat a crossbite. Braces are the most common, but there are other orthodontic devices as well as surgery options.


Q: Can Invisalign fix crossbite?

A: Depending on the severity and unique dental circumstances, Invisalign, or other similar clear aligners, can be used to treat many types of crossbites.


Q: Can crossbite cause facial asymmetry?

A: Yes, a severe crossbite can potentially contribute to facial asymmetry. It is not uncommon to have a much prettier smile after correcting crossbites but to also gain an overall more attractive look.


Q: Can braces fix a crossbite?

Yes, braces are a popular and successful way to treat a crossbite.


Q: Can a crossbite come back?

A: If post-treatment guidelines are followed, and good dental habits are maintained, there is very little chance that a crossbite will reoccur after treatment. In most all cases, your orthodontist/dentist will recommend wearing a form of retainers and/or dental night guards.


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