cross-bite example

Crossbites & Palate Expanders: Misaligned Bite Treatment for Children & Teens

When looking at a mouth with properly positioned teeth and a healthy bite, you will see that the top teeth sit slightly in front of the bottom teeth, just as a lid fits over a box.  

Many patients struggle with malocclusions (misaligned bites) that can affect their appearance, the health of their gum tissue, and the functionality of their bite. It can also cause jaw pain, sensitive teeth, and headaches.

What is a Crossbite?

A crossbite is a common type of malocclusion and a common reason someone needs braces or other orthodontic appliances. When a crossbite is present, some top teeth sit in front of the bottom ones as they should, while others are positioned behind them.  This gives off a criss-crossed appearance, hence the term crossbite. A crossbite may involve only one tooth, multiple teeth, or all of them.

Posterior Crossbite

With a posterior crossbite, the top back teeth bite down inside the bottom ones. It can alter the way you chew, how your jaws grow in relation to each other, and consequently your jaw joint (TMJ) function.

Anterior Crossbite

With an anterior crossbite, you will notice that in a biting position, the upper front teeth are sitting behind the lower ones. The enamel on your teeth may start to wear down, chip, or fracture. An anterior crossbite can also cause receding gums and loosening of teeth.

Causes of Crossbite

Over the years, as crossbites have been studied, it’s been determined that the condition is mostly hereditary. In most cases, the lower jaw grows bigger or faster than the upper jaw, with the bottom teeth at an outward slant and the upper teeth end up on the inside of them.

However, there are other non-genetic causes that can result in developmental crossbites, such as a tooth coming in abnormally or delayed, mouth breathing, and thumb sucking.

Delayed or Abnormal Tooth Growth

In the delayed growth of teeth, one tooth takes longer to come in than its opposing tooth does. This situation causes trouble and throws off the balance of the other teeth, preventing them from matching up as they should.  

Sometimes permanent teeth start to come in before a baby tooth is lost. When this happens, the new tooth is almost always misaligned since it doesn’t have the proper space, and will appear either in front or behind the baby tooth.

Mouth Breathing

During regular breathing through your nose, your tongue rests naturally on the palate (roof of the mouth). In children, this position helps mold the upper jaw properly. When a child breathes through their mouth, their tongue doesn’t touch the upper palate, and as a result, it alters their jaw growth. The upper jaw will narrow and cause the upper teeth to fall inside the lower teeth.

Thumb Sucking Habit

Extended thumb sucking causes the roof of the mouth to develop incorrectly. The palate will constrict around the thumb and take its shape over time. The altered shape of the palate can lead to the misalignment of teeth and the development of a crossbite.

Crossbite Treatments for Children & Teens

Crossbite treatments for children and teens should be addressed as soon as possible because it can have an impact on the way their facial features, jaws, and airway develops. If need be, crossbite treatments are available to adults.

Treating this condition will require orthodontic treatment using braces and other occlusion correcting appliances. It may be necessary to not only move the teeth, but the jaws and palate as well.

Crossbite Correction in Kids with Palatal Expanders

In cases where the crossbite is a side effect of having a narrow, or misshapen palate, our Barrhaven orthodontist can use a palatal expander to widen it. This creates room for the teeth to properly align and can prevent harmful consequences. Palatal expanders are usually done as the first phase in orthodontics in preparation for braces at a later stage.

This growth modification device is placed over the roof of the mouth and is attached to the upper teeth. Regular turns of a dial will expand the appliance, gradually widening the upper palate. Palatal expanders are most effective in children because during this time we can take advantage of their growing and moldable palates.

Your child may take a short time to adjust to wearing a palatal expander but there are several things you can do to ease. For instance, keep healthy, soft foods stocked at home, and offer pain relievers as needed (especially just before an adjustment.) Also, provide your child with the right dental products to make their oral hygiene routine easier.

Palate Expander Cost

When discussing costs of treatment you should keep in mind that making an orthodontic investment can offer your child life-changing results. Not only will it permanently improve the functionality of their teeth, it will give them a nicer looking smile, and may even improve their self-esteem.

The cost of a palate expander will vary, depending on where you live and which orthodontist you see. Typically you’re looking at an investment of about $1,500 – $2,500 . If you have dental insurance, most plans will help cover the cost of orthodontic appliances.

At Braces Haven, we believe that finances shouldn’t stand in the way of your oral health, so we’ve made it our priority to make orthodontic treatment easily accessible to you and your family. We offer a variety of payment plans that can fit your monthly budget. During your initial orthodontic consultation, we’ll be glad to sit with you and discuss your options.

Crossbite Correction with Invisalign

In addition to its great esthetic characteristics, Invisalign (clear aligners) has benefits like the ability to correct a crossbite in some situations.

Often times in braces, to correct a crossbite, bite blocks are added to the biting surface of back teeth. They open up your bite, separating the top teeth from the bottom ones, and allowing room for your teeth to move faster. While wearing bite blocks only a few teeth of your teeth touch, so chewing is very difficult.

With Invisalign, the use of this traditional technique is eliminated. Since the clear aligners used in Invisalign cover the entire biting surface of both the upper and lower teeth, the teeth aren’t able to touch each other. This separation is enough to help teeth that are in crossbite move into their correct position without the need of opening up the bite further.

Getting Crossbite Treatment for Your Child in Ottawa

If you suspect that you or your child has a crossbite or other orthodontic issues, then come visit us. We’ll gladly see you for a consultation to determine what is the best course of treatment. Don’t hesitate any longer, find out what a difference a new smile can make in your life.  We look forward to meeting you!

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