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Normal tooth alignment means that the upper teeth are directly on top of the lower teeth, allowing the teeth to meet perfectly when you bite or chew. Children's teeth don't always develop in this ideal pattern, though, and there are many ways that the teeth can be misaligned. A common type of misalignment is crossbite. Here's what you need to know about it.
What is crossbite?
Crossbite means that an upper tooth is either closer to the tongue or closer to the cheeks than its counterpart on the lower jaw. This means that the teeth don't come together properly during biting or chewing. This can affect one tooth or it can affect many teeth. It can also affect just the front teeth (anterior crossbite), just the back teeth (posterior crossbite), just the teeth on one side of the mouth (unilaterial crossbite), or the teeth on both sides of the mouth (bilaterial crossbite).
Why does crossbite need to be corrected?
Crossbite is a cosmetic issue that can make children feel self-conscious, but appearances aren't the only concern. The improper tooth alignment can cause excessive wear on the enamel. This happens when the biting surface of one tooth constantly comes in contact with the front or back side of its counterpart on the opposite jaw.
Crossbite can also cause temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the jaw joint. The pain can spread to the head and cheeks and even make it harder for kids to open their mouths. This makes eating and cleaning their teeth difficult.
Do a lot of kids have crossbite?
Crossbite is a very common problem among children. Studies have shown that only about one-quarter of children have normal tooth alignment, while the rest have some degree of misalignment. About 20% of the children with misalignments have a type of crossbite, with posterior crossbite being the most common variety.
How is crossbite corrected?
Crossbite is corrected by orthodontists using treatments such as braces, retainers, or expanders. The treatment can vary considerably between patients since there are so many ways that crossbite can manifest. An orthodontist will be able to tell you exactly how your child's case will be treated after examining his or her mouth.
Crossbite isn't just a cosmetic problem. This type of tooth misalignment can damage your child's mouth and jaws, so it needs to be treated as soon as possible. For more information, contact an orthodontist in your area.