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What is a crossbite and how can it be fixed


“Say Cheese” and “smile for the camera” are two phrases that kids identify with from when they are tiny. Recognized around the world by the folks having their picture taken, simply put the photographer saying “smile and show your teeth”. As we get older we begin to feel more conscious of our features, having a smile that perhaps includes a crooked tooth or – in our context – a crossbite throws a shadow over the moment and often times we’ll easily spot the one person in a photograph that has a closed smile which may look a little strained.

What is a crossbite?

Overbite and underbites are well known to most who have some knowledge of what’s going on with their teeth and smile. A crossbite however may not be a term as easily recognised. First, let’s explain a malocclusion. This is when there is a misalignment between your upper and lower teeth as you close your mouth. Now a crossbite refers to a type of malocclusion where your teeth, or just one tooth, are not matched up in position to the corresponding tooth on the lower or upper jaw as it is either closer to the cheek or tongue then it should be.

Main causes of crossbite

The causes of crossbite have been researched and predominantly narrowed down to: hereditary reasons, delayed tooth eruption or an abnormally erupted tooth. There have been some studies which indicate that thumb sucking and mouth breathing could also cause crossbite.


Genetically, crossbite can occur, if the lower jaw bone is wider than the upper jaw bone. If you imagine what that would look like you can easily see where there would be misalignment of the upper and lower jaw teeth.

Delayed and / or abnormal tooth eruption

Normal tooth eruption, where baby teeth are lost and adult teeth come in, can be delayed for a number of reasons. When this occurs, the corresponding adult teeth on the opposite jaw (be it upper or lower) do not meet with their “partner”.

Thumb Sucking

You may have heard people remonstrating mothers who allow their children to suck their thumbs, citing the potential impact on teeth. There is in fact truth to this. When a child sucks their thumb the width of the palate is made smaller and the upper bone of the pallet can be deformed. More often or not, this will not be reversed naturally and orthodontic assistance is required.

Mouth Breathing

We all breathe through our mouths from time to time. In some rare causes during development, children breathe through their mouths all the time instead of through their noses. This is usually due to other complications such as enlarged tonsils. When we breathe through our nose, our tongue rests on the upper palate and during development this assists in growing the jaw laterally however when we breathe through our mouths, the tongue moves away from the palate hindering this growth.

Treatment options for crossbite

Several treatments exist for the correction of crossbite. Popular methods of correction include:

  • A Palatal or maxillary expander that gradually widens the upper palate.
  • A removable expander that adults can wear at night-time
  • Surgical intervention where the jaw bone is broken strategically and then customised devices are used post-surgery to assist in widening the upper palate
  • Braces

Have a look at our free useful teeth straightening guide by following this link : Download our free teeh straightening  guide

What happens if you don’t treat crossbite?

If you were to Google crossbites, whether to treat them or not and when to treat them -  you would find a number of conflicting arguments about the best way to go about correcting a crossbite and at what age to do so. What you will not find though is a difference of opinion about whether treatment should be considered or not. Without a doubt, if there is the possibility of a crossbite in young children or if you as an adult begin recognising some of the symptoms of a crossbite…treatment is essential and we’ll tell you why.

Having a crossbite can lead to excessive wear and tear on your gums. Also, those with crossbites often experience pain as they bite their cheeks and discomfort as their teeth are worn down unevenly. Research also shows that some patients have had secondary effects in their jaw, neck and shoulders due to an untreated crossbite.

On the drastic end of the scale of effects of not treating a crossbite, if crossbites in children are not attended too properly there is the risk of uneven jaw development, joint disorders in the mandibular and overall facial asymmetry.

Importance of consulting an experienced orthodontist

In order to choose the best treatment option and to grasp what is actually going on with your teeth alignment, it is essential to connect with experienced and specialised orthodontic practitioners who will give you the best advice for your teeth after a careful examination and discussion of options. At Metamorphosis, there are several options available however we believe in an individual approach as we know that our patients are trusting us with their smiles.

We encourage readers to seriously consider the teeth and jaw health of themselves and their loved ones today. Leaving a crossbite untreated in children could affect their health in the long term as well as their confidence should their jaw symmetry be affected. From the purely aesthetic point of view right the way through to essential orthodontic health, our team is passionate about exquisite orthodontic treatment and giving our patients a beautiful healthy smile for life.

Call us on 020 3828 7116 or email smile@metamorphosisorthodontics.com



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