It is no secret crooked teeth are a source of shame and ridicule for children and adults alike.
Very few people were born blessed with perfectly straight teeth. Even the ones fortunate enough to have great teeth can sometimes end up with misaligned teeth.
That said, having crooked teeth is not something to ignore. Besides being a source of embarrassment, it can cause low self-esteem. Plus, this condition can even lead to other dental and health-related issues beyond the psychological and emotional implications.
But why are teeth crooked, and can you fix them?
Fortunately, several approaches are now available to correct this dental issue. And the method that works best depends on the source of misalignment and certain environmental factors, such as those explained in the following section.
Why are Teeth Crooked?
Teeth can end up crooked for various reasons. While some of them are avoidable, others are an outcome of underlying dental issues.
For example, having a poor bite or a deep bite can cause malocclusion – one of the most common types of crooked teeth. Fortunately, this condition – whether the teeth are out of alignment or have gaps in between – is easily fixable by undergoing dental procedures.
Are Crooked Teeth Genetic?
Yes, they can be. Teeth misalignment and crooked teeth can be passed through genes and become evident at an early age.
Genes play a significant role in a person’s state of health. It is the primary reason medical doctors and other healthcare professionals usually ask about a patient’s family medical history on the first visit.
Some genetic factors that can cause a person to have crooked teeth and influence overall oral health include:
- Size of teeth: The physical composition of the teeth, including their size, can vary because of genes. Those with smaller teeth may have gaps in between, while others with oversized teeth can experience crowding issues.
- The number of teeth: An adult can have 28 teeth, on average, to as many as 32 teeth. Those who grow wisdom teeth may experience crowding, and this new growth can cause other teeth to shift out of place.
- Size of the jaw: Even if the teeth size is average, a small jaw offers limited space for the teeth to fit in, causing overlaps. On the other hand, a prominent jaw can cause crooked teeth since the teeth can shift and change position.
Do Crooked Teeth Worsen with Age?
Yes. Whether a person has crooked or straight teeth, they can end up misaligned because of aging. As a person ages, their teeth drift forward and become crowded. The common misconception is that wisdom teeth are always responsible for this.
However, misalignment also happens when the jawbone starts losing its density. This causes the teeth to shift out of place and crowd toward the front.
Some other forms of crooked teeth resulting from aging are bite changes, bottom teeth shifting, and gaps between the front teeth.
Physical Factors that Cause Crooked Teeth
Physical factors, like braces, work both ways: they can align the teeth or cause them to shift. While braces help realign the teeth, the following have a negative effect:
- Thumb sucking: When a child sucks the thumb, it causes a forward pulling motion on the teeth. The typical outcome is an open bite, forming a gap that prevents the upper and lower teeth from biting.
- Tongue pushing: Some children have a habit of pushing their teeth with their tongue. This repeated action can bring teeth out of alignment as they grow.
- Losing baby teeth at an early age: If a baby’s teeth fall out just before the permanent teeth are ready to grow, the adult teeth may not grow in the proper spot and cause crowding.
- Extra adult teeth: Aside from wisdom teeth that grow at the back of the jaw during adolescence, some people develop a few more. A person’s jaw may not accommodate extra adult teeth, which can cause crowded, crooked teeth.
- Dental restorations: Restorations such as bridges and crowns that do not fit well can cause teeth to move because of undue pressure. Unless a dentist corrects this issue, it may affect a person’s bite.
- Injury: A forceful injury can cause the teeth to move out of place. Trauma to the jaw or any damage to the gums could also cause the teeth to shift. Most contact sports players are susceptible to this, so they must wear gum shields during games.
- Gum condition: A gum disease can increase the risk of other health issues, but its effect is more evident on a person’s teeth. Problems with the gums can cause teeth to loosen and get crooked.
- Inconsistent wearing of retainers: People who had their teeth straightened out often experience a recurrence of crooked teeth due to neglect. Orthodontists usually require their patients to wear retainers after taking the braces out. However, most people choose not to wear them regularly.
Fortunately, a change of habit can usually prevent the harmful effects of crooked teeth. While causes such as growing an extra tooth are unavoidable, a quick trip to the dentist early on can help sort it out.
Is Having Crooked Teeth Bad?
Yes – though crooked teeth may look like a simple cosmetic problem, they can be harmful. Even if the person with crooked teeth does not feel any discomfort, the condition can still cause underlying health issues that can worsen over time.
Here are some of the disadvantages of having crooked teeth:
- Presents challenge when cleaning teeth: Crooked teeth make brushing difficult since there are areas toothbrush bristles and floss cannot reach. Bacteria thrive in these hard-to-reach areas, which can cause further dental complications.
- Causes periodontal disease: Crooked teeth enable bacteria to proliferate in areas where the gum tissues do not hug the teeth tightly. The accumulating plaque can lead to periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss.
- Wears down the tooth faster: The constant friction between misaligned teeth can cause undue wear and tear to the enamel. This rubbing effect can lead to undesirable teeth conditions such as erosion, cracking, or even breakage.
- Causes chewing difficulties: When chewing with the jaws closed, the teeth should naturally align. It will be challenging to chew most foods if either the upper or lower teeth protrude and disrupt the jaw’s natural alignment. This condition can cause poor absorption of nutrients and indigestion.
- Promotes bad breath: Bacteria lodged in the cracks between crooked teeth can cause bad breath.
- Damages self-esteem: Embarrassment from smiling publicly with crooked teeth can lower a person’s self-esteem. It can diminish confidence, especially in adolescents.
- Negatively affects overall health: The damaging effects of crooked teeth are not isolated to oral health. The increased level of bacteria thriving in the mouth can cause serious health problems affecting the heart and other parts of the body.
How Do You Fix Crooked Teeth?
Crooked teeth will not straighten out on their own. If left untreated, the condition may worsen and affect other teeth. Fortunately, there are many options to fix the problem.
Choosing from the various methods – with different treatment duration and costs – will depend on the situation. Some people feel comfortable wearing traditional metal braces, while others want quick results and choose to go with veneers.
The most common crooked teeth treatment is the use of dental braces. It is the most popular because it works effectively for most people. Even those with severe misalignments experience great results wearing braces.
Traditional metal braces are the usual recommendation to adolescents for the following reasons:
- Teens will not lose or misplace it since it attaches to the teeth.
- Metal braces have faster treatment times because wires and brackets can offer more force to align the teeth.
- There are numerous designs to choose from, such as ceramic or lingual braces.
- Teens have no choice but to wear them consistently since they cannot remove metal braces.
Braces work by constantly exerting pressure on the teeth for extended periods. The membrane underneath the gums conforms and adjusts the position of the teeth.
However, this treatment has drawbacks, such as food restrictions and soreness after every adjustment.
How to Fix Crooked Teeth Without Traditional Braces
The feeling of having metal attached to the front of their teeth can make some people feel self-conscious and uncomfortable all the time. The following are some alternatives to wearing traditional braces:
- Dental veneers: Dental bonding or porcelain veneers offer the fastest result in correcting crooked teeth. The veneers – thin shells of porcelain bonded permanently to the front of a tooth – are irreversible, and dentists replace them every five to 10 years.
- Incognito braces: While still considered braces, incognito or lingual braces are well hidden since dentists attach them to the backside of the teeth. They offer the same results as traditional braces, but they are technically invisible.
- Invisalign: These are clear plastic retainers, custom made to fit a person’s unique teeth composition. Worn most of the day, for around 20 to 22 hours, they can only be removed before eating and brushing the teeth. Still, they can be very discreet and hard to notice.
Teeth Straightening Surgery
This helps to fix extreme cases of crooked teeth. It is a major procedure for people who have a misalignment in both teeth and jaw.
Note that it is impossible to wake up with perfectly straight teeth the morning after the surgery because the treatment can take several weeks. Teeth straightening surgery involves a combination of orthognathic (jaw) surgery to correct the jaw’s shape or length, followed by wearing regular braces.
Straightening Out Crooked Teeth can Help Overall Health
Getting crooked teeth fixed will result not just in a beautiful smile but can result in improved overall health. It can boost confidence and self-esteem, opening the door to more personal and professional opportunities.