Grosse Pointe & Shelby Township


How Orthodontists Identify & Treat Crossbite Problems

Orthodontists treat all types of issues, but crossbites are one of the most common ones. Crossbite problems can range in severity, and whether or not treatment is necessary depends on the degree of the crossbite. If you’ve been told you have a crossbite, but want to know more, read on to learn about what a crossbite is, common problems associated with crossbites and the likely treatment options you’ll have.

What Is a Crossbite?

The medical description of a crossbite is when one or more teeth have a more buccal or lingual position than they should. Simply put, this means your teeth may be positioned closer to your tongue or cheek, leaving them out of alignment with the “antagonist” tooth on the opposite side. Functionally, when you bite down, these teeth should meet. With a crossbite, they may overlap or miss contact entirely.

How Orthodontists Identify Crossbite Problems

The first step for an orthodontist to treat a crossbite problem is to diagnose it. This usually starts with your general dentist! Early on during your childhood dentist visits, they’ll keep an eye out for signs that your teeth may not be growing in correctly. If they do, they’ll recommend you visit an orthodontist for an exam.

Even if your dentist doesn’t identify an issue, it doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist! Orthodontists undergo additional training and have more experience working with jaw development and the mechanisms behind how your teeth grow in. For this reason, all children should have at least one visit with an orthodontist during their earlier years, around age seven, for a thorough orthodontic exam.

In either case, orthodontists employ several tools and exams to look for crossbite problems:

Medical History – Even at a young age, your medical history can be a key tool for identifying issues. If previous teeth were impacted when erupting, crowded or even spaced too far apart, it’s a clear issue. Orthodontists will refer to your history to identify patterns or symptoms identified by your dentist.

Physical Exam – Like any dentist visit, an orthodontist will rely on their years of training and expertise to look around your mouth in search of signs that sometimes may be wrong. While all dentists are trained in the appearance of healthy teeth, the mountain of personal experience working with patients in need of orthodontic treatment makes orthodontists adept at spotting early warning signs that treatment may be necessary.

X-Rays – Of course, x-rays are one of the most powerful tools for identifying crossbite problems or any other dental concern. Standard x-rays and panoramic ones can give a complete picture of where your teeth are, even if they haven’t erupted yet. Using these, orthodontists can look to models and predict what type of crossbite problems you may encounter as you grow up.

Common Problems with Crossbite

Like any issue that requires orthodontic treatment, crossbite problems are numerous and their risks are dependent on how severe your crossbite is.

Enamel Wear

When you have a crossbite problem, you’re more likely to experience uneven enamel wear. Enamel is the protective layer on your teeth that stops bacteria and decay before they reach the interior of the tooth.

Enamel wear is unavoidable. However, crossbites can cause certain parts of the teeth to wear away much quicker than others, leaving commonly used biting surfaces vulnerable to bacteria, decay and damage.


Decay is an ever-present threat to your teeth. As bacteria form into groups on in your mouth, they leave acidic waste that wears through enamel and into your teeth. With healthy teeth, it’s easier for brushing and flossing to remove most of the bacteria in your mouth.

Unfortunately, one of the common problems with a crossbite is that it leaves some parts of your teeth harder to clean than they should be. If food traps develop in these areas, or if bacteria harden into plaque, you may not be able to do anything about it without the assistance of a dentist.

Jaw Pain

When your bite isn’t normal, you’re more likely to suffer jaw pain. You may even develop a condition known as TMD. Chronic jaw pain can be debilitating, and sometimes leads to other pains like chronic headaches.

Types of Braces to Treat Crossbite

If you have crossbite problems, your orthodontist can recommend several types of treatment options:

Invisalign – The most popular solution for crossbite problems and other types of orthodontic issues, Invisalign aligners gently shift your teeth into their ideal position with transparent plastic aligners. During the treatment, you move from one aligner to the next, until your teeth reach their optimal positioning.

Traditional Metal Braces – These are the braces you think of when someone says braces. Using metal brackets, wires and bands, traditional metal braces make it easy to readjust your teeth. With no aligners to remember about, you work directly with your orthodontist to adjust and continue with treatment until completion.

Ceramic Braces – Ceramic braces function like traditional metal ones but are uniquely designed to blend in with the natural color of your teeth. These are a great option for those who would be best with traditional metal wires and brackets but want a more subtle look for their appliance.

Keep Your Smile Healthy

We want to help you maintain good oral health and a beautiful smile. Regular teeth cleaning and dental check-ups are an important part of your routine, just like brushing and flossing. Schedule an appointment with us or call and take the first step toward keeping your smile radiant.

Grosse Pointe Farms: (313) 881-2480

Shelby Township: (586) 803-8300

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