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What Is Crossbite and How Can It Be Corrected?

Learn about crossbite, a misalignment of the teeth that can cause discomfort and dental problems. Find out how it is diagnosed, prevented, and corrected.

Last updated on

July 19, 2023

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What Is Crossbite and How Can It Be Corrected?

If your top and bottom teeth don’t come together properly, it's called a crossbite. Crossbites are common oral abnormalities, but they can negatively impact your health and well-being down the line if left untreated.

The good news is that crossbite is treatable, especially early on. So let’s take a look at what a crossbite is, what causes it, how you can prevent it, and how you can get it treated without breaking the bank.

What is a Crossbite?

A crossbite is a misalignment of the teeth, often called a malocclusion by your dental professionals. Essentially, what happens is that your upper teeth fit inside of your lower teeth when you bite down, rather than both sets of teeth being in alignment.

Crossbites can affect just a single tooth or multiple teeth. Important to note is that there are also two different types of crossbites:

  • Posterior crossbite: The back teeth are affected, causing the upper teeth to sit inside the bottom teeth.
  • Anterior crossbite: If the front teeth of the mouth are affected, one or more top teeth will sit behind the bottom teeth.

Crossbites are often confused with underbites, when all of the top teeth, or jaw, sit behind the bottom teeth. Crossbites only affect one or multiple teeth – not all of them.

What Causes a Crossbite?

One of the most common crossbite causes is skeletal abnormalities caused by genetics. However, delayed loss of baby teeth or an abnormal protrusion of permanent teeth can change how the teeth are aligned.

As a baby, certain things like prolonged thumb-sucking, pacifier use, or swallowing in abnormal ways can create enough pressure to damage the gums and shift the teeth into a crossbite pattern. Even mouth breathing, in excess, can contribute to developing crossbites. These behaviors, if sustained, can distort the jaw bones and even push teeth out of place.

It’s also possible for a traumatic injury to shift the teeth into different places. You might also notice a crossbite return if you don’t wear a retainer after wearing corrective braces or aligners.

Why Does a Crossbite Need to Be Fixed?

In the long run, if your teeth have any form of misalignment, crossbites can result in teeth chipping or sensitivity. It can even start to wear away at your enamel (your teeth’s protective coating) if your teeth are unnaturally rubbing up against each other.

A secondary effect of having a crossbite might also be jaw pain or neck pain. If your teeth do not close properly in an aligned bite, your face and jaw muscles may not fully engage. The deficient muscular engagement leads to neck pain, strain, or even headaches.

With that said, not every crossbite will need to be corrected. A dental professional can make a complete diagnosis and let you know if they’d recommend any further next steps. With that said, the sooner you get it corrected, the better your results are likely to be.

You may feel that your crossbite makes your smile and mouth look more aesthetically pleasing. We won't take that away from you. Still, there are some solid and researched reasons for your oral health and overall wellbeing that you should try to get treatment for crossbite as soon as possible.

How to Treat a Crossbite

You have many treatment options for crossbite correction. Typically, the recommended treatment plan is dependent on the severity of your crossbite. Treatments include:

  • Invisible Aligners
  • Braces
  • Jaw Realignment
  • Elastics
  • Palate Expander

Invisible Aligners

Invisible aligners (often referred to as Invisalign) are an alternative to braces that many people prefer since you can remove the clear aligners and are much more discreet. 

If the crossbite isn’t too severe, you can typically correct them with invisible aligners. These work by covering your teeth and gently pushing them into the desired place. Over time, you’ll swap out your aligners for new ones that are closer and closer to the end goal so that your teeth can slowly shift into place over time.

You’ll need to take out your aligners when you eat or drink. Still, other than that, you’ll need to keep them on 24/7 to ensure that your teeth are properly shifting without falling back into their misaligned placements.


Braces work by exerting constant pressure on teeth and jaws to change their position and alter the smile. Essentially, brackets are glued to the teeth and held together with pieces of wire. Over time, you'll have the wires tightened to help move the teeth into desired positions.

Mild pain or discomfort is normal after your braces are tightened and adjusted. Still, if the pain persists for longer, you’ll want to revisit your orthodontist for a follow-up so they can make sure everything looks okay.

Braces are one of the best ways to correct the misalignment of the teeth. While they might not look visually appealing, and it can feel embarrassing to get them as an adult, the end results will be well worth the effort.

Jaw Realignment

Jaw realignment surgery corrects irregularities of the jaw bones and realigns the teeth to help improve how they work, look, or feel. Braces can work in mild to moderate cases of crossbites, but they might not work for everyone. If you have a severe crossbite, you may need jaw realignment surgery instead.

Jaw realignment surgery corrects the position of your jaw. This surgery is helpful when your crossbite results from the position of your jaw rather than your teeth. Despite a challenging recovery period, jaw surgery has many benefits. One major benefit: jaw surgery and recovery period combined span a much shorter time than you’d need to wear braces or invisible aligners.


Rubber bands help align your bite, and they are extremely valuable in the “bite-fixing phase” or orthodontic treatment. Suppose the position of your jaw needs to be corrected, but surgery isn’t fully necessary. In that case, you may be able to use elastics instead. 

These rubber bands are attached to hooks on braces, and the applied pressure helps pull your jaw into the correct position. Most often, elastics are used as a supportive treatment in conjunction with braces rather than just a standalone method.

Palate Expander

Palate expanders extend the upper palate in the mouth, making the upper jaw wider and helping to allow the lower teeth to fit perfectly in the upper teeth. These are discreet and often unnoticeable from the outside, and typically they are more comfortable compared to braces.

Children and adolescents can utilize palate expansion to help with crossbites or other oral abnormalities. Since a child’s jaw is still in the growing stage (unlike adults) these are often an easier option than braces or aligners.

Does Insurance Cover Crossbite Treatment?

Primary health insurance won’t cover dental care: you need separate dental insurance. Considering that only around 45% of adults in the U.S. have dental coverage, there’s a clear gap in the care that people need and the care they’re getting.

Plus, even with insurance, the cost of copays and annual premiums can make it feel like you’re still paying an arm and a leg to fix your teeth.

Without insurance, a full set of braces can cost $3,000 and $7,000. Jaw realignment surgery can cost even more, especially if you still need supportive treatment after the procedure is complete.

Suppose your crossbite leads to health complications down the road. In that case, insurance will probably be able to cover all or most of the expenses. 

If you don’t have dental insurance, you don’t have to worry. Flossy can be an alternative to dental insurance or a supplemental discount for procedures not covered by insurance. Flossy helps people gain access to the care they need at the prices they want. With your free membership, you can get treatment from top-rated dentists at up to 50% off the national average.

With our pay-as-you-go transparent pricing model, you’ll only pay for the services you receive. And since there’s no waiting period to see a professional, you can use your membership immediately and start towards a healthier smile.

Book appointments from your phone without monthly payments, annual caps, or anxiety over coverage. It’s a win-win all around. Find a dentist near you and give yourself something to smile about.

Can a Crossbite Come Back?

Unfortunately, your jaw and teeth can revert to their original position if you don’t ensure using your retainer. After you get your crossbite fixed, you’ll want to retain your brand new smile for the rest of your life. 

You’ll be given a retainer that you’ll only need to wear overnight after alignment treatment. The retainer holds your teeth correctly, ensuring they don’t shift back into their crossbite patterns. While using a retainer can feel frustrating and annoying at times, it’s much better than the alternative of possibly needing to get retreated for your crossbite.


Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you, and having a great one can help you give off some amazing first impressions. However, your smile has a lot of other functions besides just making you look good. Also, the alignment of the teeth in your mouth can have direct (and indirect) correlations to your health overall. 

Crossbites occur when the upper teeth fit inside of the lower teeth when you bite down. If left untreated, it can lead to pain, sensitivity, or even tooth chipping over time. While a crossbite is different from an underbite or an overbite, the treatment methods are largely the same.

Invisible aligners and braces are typically the most common treatment methods. They tend to be the most effective and least inundating to your daily life. However, in some cases, jaw realignment surgery might be necessary to correct the position of the jaw bone and connective tissues.

Regardless, dental treatment can be expensive. But if you don’t have dental insurance or have poor coverage, you don’t need to worry. Flossy is a cost-effective, pay-as-you-go solution that can be used in place of insurance or as a supplemental discount for procedures not covered by insurance. With transparent pricing for high-quality care, you don’t need to stress about your health anymore.

Find a dentist near you and save up to 50% on your crossbite treatment.


What is a Crossbite? | American Association of Orthodontists

Jaw surgery | The Mayo Clinic

Regional Variation in Private Dental Coverage and Care among Dentate Adults Aged 18-64 in the United States, 2014-2017 | CDC

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