Regular checkups and cleanings are imperative for protecting the look and health of your child's teeth. However, certain issues may affect the development of your child's smile even with proper dental care and good oral hygiene. While surprising to hear, crossbites affect 1 to 16 percent of children with their baby teeth, and 50 to 90 percent of posterior crossbites remain an issue even after developing permanent teeth. Proper understanding of this dental condition is smart for correcting your child's smile. Using this guide, you will understand this dental condition and learn the best technique to repair your child's crossbite.

The 411 on a Crossbite

Overbites are common in children, so you may already be familiar with this physical overlapping of the top teeth. Unfortunately, most parents are not completely aware that their child has a crossbite until after a visit to the dentist or orthodontist.

If your child's top teeth or jaw are more narrow than the bottom teeth or jaw, they most likely are suffering with a crossbite. Crossbites can occur on one or both sides of your child's jaw, as well.

While it is difficult to see, crossbites can affect your child's ability to eat and speak. In addition, crossbites can affect your child's underlying dental health in the following ways:

  • Dental Erosion – A crossbite will prevent your child from biting down in a normal, aligned manner. This abnormal bite will cause tension between the upper and lower set of teeth, eroding the dental enamel over time.
  • Tooth Decay – Damaged dental enamel increases your child's risk of developing cavities and suffering with tooth decay. This can lead to pain and possible tooth loss.
  • TMJ – Without treating your child's crossbite, they may experience pain and discomfort in their jaw as they age. TMJ is a condition that causes the Temporomandibular joint to click, lock, and pop periodically, resulting in severe discomfort.

Correcting a Crossbite

If dentists notice your child has a crossbite, they will recommend a consultation with an orthodontist. Of course, you may think your child is too young to undergo orthodontic treatment. However, early intervention is effective for correcting most bite misalignments, such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites.

Depending on your child's specific crossbite, a palatal expander may be recommended. This device is fitted to the roof of the mouth and connected to teeth on both sides of the upper jaw. You will need to insert a key-like tool into a small hole in the palatal expander, turning it each day to gradually widen the teeth of your child's upper jaw.

The use of a palatal expander may sound painful and overwhelming, but your child will only experience slight pressure when turning the device's key. This common orthodontic treatment is not only effective and safe, but can be used in children as young as 7 or 8 years old.

Additional treatment may be necessary in patients with crossbites, so your child's orthodontist may also recommend a set of braces. You will be able to choose from traditional metal braces or orthodontic aligners to move your child's teeth into a position that aligns with the upper teeth properly.

It can be difficult to decide which option of braces is best for your child and budget. However, traditional braces are commonly used in younger patients who lack the discipline needed to care for the orthodontic aligners.

Having a healthy and appealing smile will be important for your child as they age, so you should already understand the imperative nature of good oral hygiene and regular checkups by a dentist and orthodontist. Using this guide and the help of your child's dental care team, you will understand crossbites and learn the best option to correct this dental condition. 

For more information and options for treatment, contact a dental or orthodontic clinic, such as Arrowhead Family Dentistry S. M. Bhatt DDS Inc., today.