Pediatric Crossbite Correction

Pediatric Crossbite Correction | Braces, Retainers, Fluoride, OH MY!

While you probably know the definition or could identify an overbite, have you ever heard of a crossbite? If not, Snodgrass King to your child’s rescue! Let us bring this issue to your attention.

A crossbite is when the top and bottom rows of teeth are misaligned in the jaw. We’ll help you identify whether or not your child needs pediatric crossbite correction to fix the issue.

Get To Know Your Crossbite

Crossbites are a type of malocclusion, which is a fancy way of saying that one or more teeth did not come in right. They tend to affect the front teeth and can make it difficult to chew on one side. They can also be caused by a misalignment of the teeth and jaws.

Photo of a crossbite. If your child needs pediatric dentistry in TN Snodgrass-King can help.

There are two types of crossbites:

1. Anterior Crossbite

Anterior crossbite is a common dental condition. The upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth, causing difficulty in chewing and appearance issues (like a smile that looks crooked). This can occur on both the front and side teeth.

Anterior crossbites can be caused by a number of factors, including genetic disposition, early loss of baby teeth, thumb sucking, or crowding of the teeth. Anterior crossbites can cause a number of problems, including tooth misalignment, difficulty chewing, and TMJ disorders. Anterior crossbite treatment in a child typically involves wearing a retainer or braces to correct the position of the teeth. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the alignment of the jaw.

2. Posterior Crossbite

The posterior crossbite is when the upper back teeth are inside. This can cause problems because they can get stuck on your lower teeth or make you have a hard time chewing certain foods.

Crossbites can affect one tooth or several. They can also be found on either or both sides of the mouth. While they are often genetic, there are several general reasons as to why they are discovered in pediatric dentistry.

  • Smaller upper jaw than the lower jaw
  • Delayed loss of baby teeth
  • Frequent mouth breathing
  • Long-term pacifier use
  • Excessive finger/thumb sucking

Crossbites are a common problem for children. Don’t think your child needs pediatric crossbite correction? Brace yourself! Crossbites can lead to dental problems, oral issues, and other complications such as significant tooth and gum wear, improper jaw growth, jaw pain, and altered or poor mouth function.

This means both dental and skeletal problems in your child’s future. Dentists across the board agree that crossbites cannot be left untreated.

Crossbites Need to Be Treated By a Pediatric Dentist

  • Crossbites are a common cause of jaw growth problems in growing kids and teens.
  • Crossbites, or overcrowding of the upper teeth in relation to the lower set of teeth, is linked to an often narrow jaw which causes bite and respiratory difficulties.
  • Kids who start treatment early have fewer problems later on
  • When your front teeth collide, they can cause tooth chipping or gum problems. If you notice any of this happening to your child’s mouth, it is imperative that you get them in to see a dentist as soon as possible for treatment.

How To Fix A Crossbite In A Child

After checking the severity of your child’s crossbite, visit a dentist to get professional guidance on how best to correct it. There are many different treatment options that can be used depending on what type you have and where in the mouth it is located.

Kids who have milder cases of crossbite can also use orthodontic treatments, including:

  • braces
  • retainers
  • removable palate expanders

Our pediatric dentists can assess the severity of your child’s crossbite and determine the proper method of crossbite correction. In many milder cases, an appliance (such as a rapid palatal expander or RPE) is fixed along the top teeth and slowly widened over a period of weeks in order to “spread” open the mouth.

The RPE then remains in your child’s mouth for three to five months as a retainer. This allows the jaw to realign as well as sets the palate in place. Thankfully, this process is relatively quick and generally painless. We want pain-free and great results for your children.

How To Fix Crossbite Without Braces

anterior crossbite

Braces are a perfectly good option to correct the placement of teeth. Having said that, many kids (especially teenagers), find the thought of braces horrifying. Traditional metal braces can be a bit obtrusive looking. Fortunately, there is a commonly used alternative.

In case you’ve never heard of them, aligners are a semi-recent development in the field of dentistry. They’re essentially a clear orthodontic device that’s been molded to fit your teeth and gently re-align them. Similarly to braces, the role of aligners is also to move teeth into their correct position.

Unlike braces however, aligners are clear and unobtrusive looking. This makes them a much more aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, aligners can actually be removed for short periods of time. Although you still want to wear them for most of the day, they can be removed for short activities such as eating and brushing.

All of these benefits have made aligners more and more popular in recent years. Do keep in mind however, that they are a little pricier than traditional braces. Always ask your dentist for what your orthodontic options are. They can consider your budget and dental needs, and provide you with a recommendation.

How Long Does it Take to Fix a Crossbite?

Crossbite treatment can be a long process. It will usually take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years depending on the severity of your child’s crossbite!

Because crossbite correction can be relatively easy with a little time and attention, early pediatric dental care can significantly eliminate harmful side effects and future problems. Why not fix it now? It’s important to work with a dentist early on so that your child can get braces later on before it is permanent.

Is your child chomping at the bit? Let us at Snodgrass King aid in your child’s oral care through pediatric dentistry.

At What Age Should A Crossbite Be Corrected?

palate expanders

To start with, know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that “all children be screened by an AAO orthodontist at age 7”. It can be tempting to put off visiting the orthodontist, but please know that it’s always better to be ahead of the curve.

Braces themselves are most often applied once a child’s adult teeth have come in. This might be around age 12-14. Having said that, braces alone often can’t fix a crossbite. Before even putting in the braces, your child will often require a palate expander.

Unlike braces, a palate expander is used to widen the jaw itself, not the teeth. Due to this, it’s actually better to begin younger (think age 7 or 8). In these early stages, your child’s jaw is still forming, and therefore easier to shape. That is why it’s best for your child to have their first orthodontist visit while they are still young.

Crossbites In Toddlers

As mentioned above, crossbite treatment often begins around age 6. This means that even by age 3, you as a parent should begin to keep an eye out for signs of discomfort in your child’s mouth or jaw. Believe it or not, crossbites are often genetic. Due to this, children can begin developing one at a very young age. This is why it’s so important that you bring in your child for their first dental checkup by age 1, and continue regular visits to your pediatric dentist.

Can Baby Teeth Have Crossbites?

Yes. In fact, many orthodontists recommend beginning treatment with a palate expander while the child still has a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth.

What Happens If A Crossbite Is Not Corrected?

Generally speaking, a crossbite is a misalignment of the teeth or jaw. This misalignment can cause your jaw to be off-balanced.

If your child develops a crossbite, it’s imperative that it’s corrected as soon as possible. Left untreated, the misalignment will cause muscle strain, chewing problems, wearing down of enamel, uneven facial features, and much more. As your child grows up, these issues will only worsen. Eventually, that small case of pediatric crossbite will become an adult orthodontic problem with possible complications.

Another condition called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ), has also been linked to crossbites. TMJ occurs when the temporomandibular moves out of place and can’t open and close smoothly. Unfortunately, a crossbite can affect the way you bite down, which in turn can negatively affect your temporomandibular joint. Don’t forget to consult with your dentist or orthodontist if you’re experiencing jaw pain.

How Can Parents Help?

parent and child brushing teeth

As a parent, one of your many jobs is to teach proper hygiene to your children, which can, and in many cases should include early pediatric dental care. I know what some of you may be thinking… braces and retainers and fluoride, oh my! But the truth is that pediatric dentistry can prevent long-term negative oral issues from happening to your child’s pearly whites.

At Snodgrass King Dentistry, we set you up with the tools to succeed in your child’s pediatric dental care. Without pediatric dentistry, you and your child may miss crucial red flags that lead to issues such as crooked teeth, cavities, and uneven jaw development.

To Do

Some things you should implement in your child’s dental routine include regular flossing and brushing his or her teeth, visiting the dentist at least twice yearly, encouraging a balanced diet, as well as drinking water.

To Stop

On the other hand, there are a handful of habits to break if you see your child developing them. Some include prolonged pacifier use, finger/thumb sucking, constant mouth breathing, inconsistent dental care, and excessively drinking sodas or eating sugary foods.

More nervous to visit us than your child is? Don’t be! We are here to listen and help you and your family. Let our pediatric specialists at SnodgrassKing aid in your child’s oral care!

Your child doesn’t have to suffer from a crossbite when there are multiple solutions available. Pediatric dental care is a great way to not only make your children more comfortable but also educate them on oral hygiene.