What Causes a Crossbite in Teeth? – All You Need to Know

July 5, 2024

A gorgeous smile and a typical chewing experience is not too much to ask for, is it?

Sadly, it does not come easily to a lot of people who wish to know what causes a crossbite in teeth. 

A crossbite is a common dental problem that you may encounter as a child or even as an adult. This alignment issue is caused by your teeth, which can lead to multiple complications and problems if left untreated. 

Let's find out what causes a crossbite in teeth, how it can be treated, and what proactive measures can be taken to prevent a crossbite in the first place.

What is a Crossbite?

A crossbite is a common dental issue where the upper teeth do not align correctly with the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. 

In a typical bite, the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower teeth. However, in a crossbite, some or all of the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth. This condition can occur in various forms and can affect the teeth in the front, back, or on both sides of the mouth.

Types of Crossbite

Anterior Crossbite

An anterior crossbite occurs when the upper front teeth sit behind the lower front teeth. This type of crossbite is often visible when smiling or speaking. 

Anterior crossbites can be caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, early loss of primary teeth, or habits such as thumb sucking.

Posterior Crossbite

A posterior crossbite affects the back teeth, where the upper back teeth sit inside the lower back teeth. They may result from factors such as improper jaw development, prolonged use of pacifiers, or mouth breathing during childhood.

What Causes a Crossbite in Teeth?

Genetic Factors

If one or both parents have a crossbite, there is a higher likelihood that their children will develop one as well. Inherited characteristics, such as the size and shape of the jaw, can also lead to a mismatch between the upper and lower jaws, causing a crossbite in your teeth.

Thumb Sucking

Prolonged thumb sucking, finger sucking, or the use of a pacifier beyond the age of three can interfere with the proper development of the teeth and jaws, leading to a crossbite.

Mouth Breathing

Chronic mouth breathing, often due to allergies or enlarged adenoids, can affect the normal growth and alignment of the jaws and teeth, eventually leading to a crossbite.

Tongue Thrusting

This habit involves pushing the tongue against the teeth while swallowing, which can cause the teeth to move out of alignment over time and cause a crossbite in the teeth.

Disproportionate Jaw Growth

Disproportionate growth of the upper and lower jaws can result in a crossbite. For instance, if the lower jaw grows faster or larger than the upper jaw, the upper teeth can fit inside the lower teeth.

Losing Primary Teeth Early

Losing baby teeth prematurely can lead to misalignment of the permanent teeth as they erupt, potentially causing a crossbite.

Late Eruption of Permanent Teeth

If the permanent teeth take longer to emerge, the surrounding teeth can shift into the space meant for them, leading to misalignment and crossbite.

What Issues Can a Crossbite Cause?

Tooth Wear:

Crossbites can cause uneven pressure on the teeth, leading to excessive wear, chipping, and even fractures.

Cavities & Gum Disease:

Misaligned teeth are harder to clean, which can result in plaque buildup and increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Gum Recession:

Abnormal tooth positioning can cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth and leading to sensitivity and increased risk of decay.

Jaw Pain & TMJ Disorders:

The misalignment of the teeth can strain the jaw muscles and joints (temporomandibular joints or TMJ), causing pain, discomfort, and TMJ disorders.

Muscle Strain:

The unevenness of a crossbite can cause the jaw muscles to work harder to chew, leading to muscle fatigue and pain.

Difficulty in Chewing:

Crossbites can make it challenging to bite and chew food properly, leading to inefficient chewing and potential digestive issues.

Speech Difficulties:

Misaligned teeth can affect the tongue's ability to make certain sounds, causing speech problems such as lisping.

Facial Asymmetry:

Severe crossbites can affect the overall facial structure, leading to asymmetry and impacting a person's appearance and self-esteem.

Smile Aesthetics:

A crossbite can affect the appearance of the smile, making individuals self-conscious about their teeth.

Tooth Mobility:

Persistent misalignment and uneven pressure can cause teeth to become loose over time.

Bone Loss:

Chronic gum disease resulting from a crossbite can lead to bone loss around the teeth, jeopardizing their stability and health.

How Can a Crossbite Be Corrected for Kids & Teenagers?

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders are commonly used to widen the upper jaw, creating more space for proper alignment.

The device is attached to the upper molars and gradually widens over several weeks or months, allowing the bones in the upper jaw to expand and realign. This treatment is most effective in younger children, typically between the ages of 6 and 12 when the jaw is still growing.


Braces are used to move teeth into their correct positions, aligning both the upper and lower teeth.

Braces apply continuous pressure on the teeth, gradually shifting them into proper alignment with the help of brackets that are attached to the teeth and connected by wires. Braces can be effective for children and teenagers with most permanent teeth.

Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy can address habits and muscle functions that contribute to crossbites, such as tongue thrusting and improper swallowing. It is highly effective for children and teenagers, particularly those with habits contributing to the crossbite.

How Can a Crossbite be Corrected in Adults?


For mild crossbites, Invisalign can be an effective alternative to traditional braces. Made from transparent plastic, these clear aligners are ideal for people who prefer a less noticeable treatment option.

Jaw Realignment Surgery

Braces may not be suitable for all adults with crossbites. In severe cases, orthodontists may recommend jaw realignment surgery to correct the jaw's position.

Dental Restorations

Dental restorations, like crowns, veneers, or dental bonding, can improve the bite and alignment in cases where the crossbite affects only a few teeth. These restorative techniques can reshape and align the teeth, improving the bite and aesthetics. This option is best for mild crossbites and can be combined with other treatments for comprehensive results.

How to Prevent Crossbites in Teeth

While knowing what causes a crossbite in teeth can be useful, it is also important to know what you can do to prevent a crossbite in your teeth altogether. 

Here are some of the preventive measures you can take to avoid getting a crossbite.

Early Dental Visits

Schedule your child's first dental visit by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts. Early detection allows for timely intervention if potential crossbites are identified.

Address Oral Habits

Encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb or fingers by age 3 to prevent misalignment of teeth and jaw growth issues. Limit their pacifier use after age 3 to prevent crossbites.

Proper Oral Hygiene

Teach your children (and yourself!) the importance of brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily to maintain proper tooth alignment and gum health.

Monitor Jaw Development

Visit the dentist regularly to monitor jaw development and ensure that teeth are erupting correctly.

Corrective Measures

Have your child evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7 to detect potential orthodontic issues, including crossbites, early on. If a crossbite is detected, follow the orthodontist's recommendations for early intervention to prevent the condition from worsening.

Avoid Mouth Breathing

Treat allergies promptly to reduce the likelihood of chronic mouth breathing, which can impact jaw development and tooth alignment.


A crossbite is a fairly common dental condition that can eventually lead to multiple oral complications if left untreated for long. 

Being aware of what causes a crossbite in teeth can help you take proactive measures, whether for yourself or for your child and prevent this dental issue altogether. 

If you or your child are suffering from a crossbite, contact a dentist or an orthodontist to find out the best treatment options.

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Don't wait to achieve the smile you deserve! 

Contact Innovative Dental & Orthodontics today to schedule your consultation!


Yes, a crossbite can be corrected with the right orthodontic treatment. The specific treatment method depends on the severity of the crossbite and the patient's age. In fact, even adults can undergo treatment successfully with options such as braces, clear aligners (like Invisalign), orthodontic appliances, or, in some cases, surgery.
A severe crossbite can potentially alter the shape of your face over time. This is particularly true in cases where the crossbite affects the jaw alignment and growth. Misalignment of the teeth and jaws can lead to asymmetry in the facial structure, affecting the jawline and overall appearance.

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