Crooked teeth can make you feel self-conscious about your smile. They also make it harder to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
Malocclusion, or crooked teeth, interferes with the proper function of your bite and can cause a range of oral and overall health issues.
Are my crooked teeth really a problem?
The Effects of Crooked Teeth Are More Serious Than Just Cosmetic
Biting the Inside of Your Cheek
If you frequently bite your inner cheeks or your tongue, your teeth may be out of alignment. Biting the delicate soft tissues of your mouth can lead to painful sores.
Discomfort when Chewing
Misalignment can cause pain and discomfort when you bite or chew. If your teeth do not meet properly, it can also put extra stress on your jaw and lead to headaches or other uncomfortable symptoms.
Breathing or Speech Problems
Crooked teeth can cause a lisp or other speech problems. You are also more likely to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, which increase the risk of tooth decay, bad breath, and other oral health issues.
Misaligned Teeth Take Many Forms
Genetics Play a Large Role in the Development of Crooked Teeth
Many of our dental traits are directly inherited from our parents. Whether it is the size of our mouths or the alignment of our jaws, the main traits that can lead to crowding are inherited from our parents. If your parents have crooked teeth or needed braces as children, there is a good chance you will too.
Childhood Habits as Well as Trauma Can Lead to Dental Misalignment
Thumb sucking and using a pacifier can lead to crooked teeth, especially if the habit continues when a child is a toddler. Other unconscious habits, such as breathing through the mouth or tongue thrusting, can also cause misaligned teeth.
Illness or Injury
Trauma to the jaw or mouth can move teeth out of place. Changes in your jaw or lost teeth due to illness or injury can make teeth shift out of place as well.
Baby teeth act as anchors which guide permanent teeth into place. If baby teeth are lost early due to decay or trauma, the permanent teeth underneath may not grow in properly.
A Crooked Smile Can Affect Your Social Life
Crooked Teeth Are Easy to Diagnose
Your doctor can typically diagnose crooked teeth during a routine dental exam. They may perform x-rays in addition to a visual check of your bite. Panoramic x-rays can also help with the diagnosis of a misaligned bite by showing the relationship between your teeth and jaws.
Your doctor may also make impressions of your teeth to further assess your bite. Based on these tests, they can determine what type of treatment you need.
There Are Different Methods of Prevention for Children and Adults
Although you cannot change your genetics, adjusting or refraining from certain habits can reduce your risk of developing crooked teeth.
Stop Thumbsucking Early
Thumbsucking is completely normal. Most children naturally stop sucking their thumb between ages two and four. Encouraging your child to give up the thumbsucking habit before age four can help prevent damage to their front teeth and the roof of their mouths.
Encourage Good Oral Hygiene
Keeping your child’s baby teeth healthy is a great way to ensure healthy and straight adult teeth. Help your child develop a consistent oral hygiene routine and schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts.
Prevent Missing Teeth
A proper oral hygiene routine can help prevent premature tooth loss. However, if your child loses a tooth early due to decay or trauma, a dentist can check the area and put measures, such as early orthodontic treatment, into place to stop teeth from shifting.
Avoid Sleeping on Your Stomach
Laying on your stomach places pressure on your mouth. If you typically sleep on your stomach, this nightly pressure can cause your teeth to shift out of place.
Treat Missing Teeth
When you have gaps in your smile, there is a good chance other teeth will move into them. By treating missing teeth promptly with implants, crowns, or bridges, you can prevent crooked teeth.
Break Bad Habits
A range of habits can lead to misaligned teeth, including chewing on pens, biting your nails, or constantly blowing bubbles with chewing gum.
With a Range of Treatments Available, You Can Straighten Your Teeth at Any Age
"Professional orthodontic treatments have come a long way in recent years, with innovative options such as clear aligner trays, lingual braces and ceramic braces. Healthy teeth can be moved at any age and it's encouraging that two-thirds of Americans think they are never too old for treatment."
John F. Buzzatto, DMD, MDS, president of the American Association of Orthodontists
Braces Are the Most Common Treatment for Crooked Teeth
The most common treatment for crooked teeth is traditional metal braces. During treatment, a combination of brackets and wires guide your teeth into the proper position.
Schedule an Appointment
Straightening your smile can improve your self-confidence as well as your oral health. If you are concerned about crooked teeth, schedule an appointment with a dentist. They can assess your smile and determine whether you need the care of a specialist. For more complex cases, they may refer you to an orthodontist.