Common Problems: Crossbite

One of the more common malocclusions seen today, crossbites are often left unattended. This is a problem as the persistence of a crossbite can ruin teeth, and also cause TMJ problems and jaw pain later in life. The teeth get ruined because every time you bite down the tips of the antagonist teeth scratch the enamel of the teeth that stick out.

A crossbite is a condition in which, when biting down, teeth hit the sides of other teeth. This looks as if the tooth is jutting out or sticking to the rest of the bite. This means it sticks out more than its antagonist tooth (the tooth in the same position in the opposite jaw, the one its supposed to link up with when biting). Crossbites can occur with any pairs of teeth, including the molars, canines, front teeth, really any of them at all.

Causes and Treatment

The causes of this malocclusion are generally hereditary; you usually get this because folks in your family have it. There are no currently known habits that will cause a crossbite. They can be caused by skeletal inequalities, or by malocclusion of teeth, or teeth shifting because of crowding or spacing elsewhere.


Frontal crossbites usually get fixed fairly quickly, as they tend to stick out, be unsightly, and make for uneven smiles. These are easy to notice (indeed hard not to), and so get dealt with quickly. However, crossbites are much more frequent in the back teeth, where they are also less frequently spotted. But these can cause the same amount of problems, and so it is important to have an orthodontist look at your teeth.

Usually, crossbites are treated by regular orthodontic braces that are a little bit special. You see, often times the teeth will need to be pulled or pushed in an opposite direction from the rest of the row of teeth. This is when orthodontic elastics can be used, and there are special braces that are made for patients who otherwise have a perfect row of teeth, but a few teeth are causing crossbite. These brace usually only have a few brackets, and just have an archwire running all the way around the row of teeth. The treatment times are usually around six months, and often end with the patient having to wear a retainer for some time afterwards.

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