close-up image of a girl's crooked-teeth smile

Causes and Problems of Crooked Teeth: How & Why to fix them

 

Written by Dr. Kriti Arora, BDS, MDS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI.

Fact Checked ✓

Table of Contents
1. What does crooked teeth mean?
2. What causes crooked teeth?
3. What health issues are caused by malaligned teeth?
4. Crooked teeth treatment
5. Conclusion

The first thing that people notice about you is your smile. It is unique and adds charm to your personality! Unfortunately, twisted, overlapping, or crooked teeth add a dent to your smile and your confidence. This article addresses everything you need to know about crooked teeth, their causes, and available treatment options. 

What do crooked teeth mean? 

Crooked or misaligned teeth occur when the upper and lower jaws are not proportionate. Sometimes, the upper jaw may grow too much or too little, or the lower jaw may grow too much or too little. This results in a relationship that is deviated from normal.

Crooked teeth impact the quality of life, affecting the physical, psychological, and social well-being. Some of the drawbacks are jaw pain, lisping, improper chewing, and dissatisfaction with facial appearance. (1)

Here’s a quick test to know if you have crooked teeth:

  1. Do you have crowded or spaced teeth?    
  2. Do your teeth have any of these features- tilted teeth, crossed teeth, bent teeth, or teeth growing sideways
  3. Are you dealing with any jaw stiffness or persistent headaches? 
  4. Has someone suggested you should see a dentist for your malaligned teeth? 
  5. Do you feel any inability to close your lips?

If most of your responses end up YES, you have crooked teeth.

 

What causes crooked teeth in both children and adults?

Multiple factors can make teeth crooked in both adults and children. These include genetics, oral habits, early tooth loss, trauma to the teeth or jaws, nutrition, etc. Let’s look at them one by one:

Genetics and heredity

Teeth reflect the genes of our parents. If your parents had crooked teeth, you have likely inherited the same from them. (2)

Myofunctional Oral Habits 

Children, teens, and adults may have oral habits that affect the balance between the muscles and the teeth resulting in misaligned or deformed teeth. (3) 

Some of these habits include:

  • Thumb sucking (prolonged sucking of thumb for several years)
  • Tongue thrusting (pushing the tongue forwards)
  • Mouth breathing
  • Nail biting

Early primary tooth loss

Early loss of baby teeth creates empty spaces into which the surrounding teeth migrate or tilt. In such cases, if the jaw size is also less, then it can lead to crowding when the permanent teeth erupt. (4)

Jaw size

There has been a drastic shift in the diet and lifestyle of humans over the past few decades. As a result, there has been a reduction in the average jaw size, resulting in less space to accommodate the teeth. Consequently, we’re seeing jaw and tooth size discrepancies such as overlapping teeth, crowded teeth, or spaced teeth. In addition, disproportionate growth of the jaws, i.e., a larger size of the lower jaw compared to the upper jaw or vice-versa, leads to abnormal relation of the teeth. These discrepancies also lead to chewing issues, cause muscle tension in jaws and impact the appearance of a person. (5)

Malnutrition

Health care experts say poor nutrition in children is a growing concern. It delays the formation and eruption of teeth and dramatically slows the development of jaws resulting in severely crooked teeth. (6)

Injury and trauma

When there is injury or trauma to the face, i.e., in the case of an accident or fall, your teeth can get knocked out and leave empty spaces behind. Later, movement of the remaining teeth in those spaces may result in crooked teeth and changes to your smile.

Aging 

With advancing age, our teeth also undergo several changes. Natural wearing of the teeth over time may contribute to misaligned teeth. 

 

What are the oral health issues caused by misaligned teeth?

Crooked teeth cause many issues that are not only limited to your oral health but also affect your overall health.

Difficulty chewing and digestion problems

For some people, uneven or misaligned teeth can disturb normal chewing function as the upper and lower jaw are not in sync. Difficulty in chewing puts a load on the digestive system as the food is not sufficiently broken down for the digestive acids to work properly. (8)

Excessive wear and tear

Having crowded or forwardly placed teeth can lead to abnormal biting patterns and occlusal interferences, resulting in a higher probability of enamel wear (the outermost protective layer of your teeth). (9) Enamel wear paves the way for other dental health problems like sensitivity or tooth decay. 

Tooth decay and gum disease

Crooked teeth by themselves do not cause tooth decay or gum disease, but, as it presents as twisted teeth, teeth growing sideways, or simply teeth that are not straight, it is challenging to maintain proper oral hygiene because the brush may not be able to reach and clean all the areas. This ineffective brushing leads to plaque buildup causing tooth decay and gum disease. 

 

Image
sequence of pictures explaining how to brush your teeth properly step by step

 

Pain

Malocclusions with abnormal bite might affect normal functioning. Sometimes, there is head, neck, and back pain, along with discomfort in the jaw joint. The pain is noticed more commonly in those who have forwardly placed teeth and crossbite relation of teeth.

Speech difficulties

The teeth and tongue play a massive role in pronouncing certain words. So naturally, when you have misaligned teeth, you will have problems with speech and pronunciation. 

Low self-esteem

Some people may even start avoiding social gatherings or events as they feel less confident about themselves. Some children face bullying or harassment from their peers, which majorly affects their self-esteem.

 

Crooked teeth treatment

There are various orthodontic treatment options for those seeking crooked teeth treatment. The two deciding factors are the functional and aesthetic requirements of the patient. 

When should they be treated?

The best time to get crooked teeth treatment is when your teeth and gums are healthy. For children, orthodontic advice can be considered as soon as the child reaches seven years of age. Early intervention helps to resolve the issues easily before they become complex, hard-to-treat conditions. (10) The orthodontist evaluates the teeth and their alignment and, if required, suggests the treatment. 

Which treatment is recommended?

Braces

 

  • Metal braces

Metal braces are the most conventional form of orthodontic treatment.  With the help of wires and brackets, they work effectively to treat a wide variety of simple to complex cases. 

  • Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces are a great alternative for those that have reservations regarding the metallic color of braces. These are tooth-colored brackets fixed on the teeth and are less noticeable than conventional braces. 

  • Lingual braces

They are a form of metal braces but differ in terms of location. They are placed on the backside of your teeth, facing toward the tongue. This placement is an advantage as they are nearly invisible and work wonderfully in people who are conscious of the visibility of metal.

Clear aligners

Clear aligners are virtually invisible sets of tailor-made trays worn for a fixed duration daily (minimum 22 hours). They are easy to wear, very comfortable, and save you from all the hassle of conventional braces. 

The trays are manufactured based on 3D intraoral scans/ PVS impressions made by your dentist. Thus, they are customized to fit perfectly and put gentle pressure on the teeth to get the desired results. 

 

Image
image of a crooked teeth smile before and after treatment with clear aligners

 

Post- Orthodontic Treatment Completion

Retainer: As the name suggests, a retainer is an orthodontic appliance given to retain the position of the teeth after orthodontic treatment. Teeth have a tendency to move back to their original positions if retainers are not worn for the designated time frame. (11)

Conclusion

Are crooked teeth affecting your oral/overall health? Is your smile making you feel conscious or underconfident? Then book an appointment with an Eon-certified doctor and we will deliver the perfect smile to you!

 

 

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FAQ's

Are crooked teeth normal?

Yes! Crooked teeth are absolutely normal and commonly seen in children, teenagers, and adults.

Are crooked teeth permanent?

No! You just need to visit your dentist/orthodontist and get them corrected. There are multiple options for correcting crooked teeth nowadays: starting from conventional braces to clear aligners to surgery. 

Can crooked teeth cause headaches?

Sometimes your misaligned teeth can put some pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding muscles , resulting in headaches or jaw pain. (12) Consult an Eon-certified doctor to get the best treatment option for you. 

Are crooked teeth attractive?

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder! Crooked teeth add a unique feature to our persona. But if you feel insecure or self-conscious of your crooked teeth, it’s time to get them corrected!

Is it expensive to fix crooked teeth?

 The cost entirely depends on individual needs and the treatment choice. Nowadays, many clinics offer affordable payment plans in installments, so consult your dentist to get the total cost for you. 

How long will it take for braces to straighten my teeth?

Orthodontic treatment is unique for every individual.The exact duration of your treatment varies as it will depend on multiple factors; for example, the complexity of your case. 

How can you fix your teeth naturally?

Dentists are able to decrease the severity of the malocclusion and  crooked teeth in growing children. They use functional appliances and habit breaker devices to stop habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or mouth breathing. (14)

How to fix crooked teeth without braces?

The best way to avoid the problems associated with conventional braces is to opt for clear aligners. They are tailor made  for each individual and work as effectively as braces in straightening adult crooked teeth.

How should I brush my very crooked teeth?

Some areas that are hard to access are cleaned by a toothbrush with an angled head. Additionally, dental floss or a water-flosser can greatly help maintain better oral hygiene.

References

  1. Zhang, M., McGrath, C. and Hägg, U., 2006. The impact of malocclusion and its treatment on quality of life: a literature review. International journal of paediatric dentistry, 16(6), pp.381-387.
  2. Mokhtar, K.I., Bakar, N.A. and Tahir, A.H.M.A., 2020. Genetics of malocclusion: A review. IIUM Journal of Orofacial and Health Sciences1(1), pp.1-6
  3. Pietrzak, P. and Hanke, W., 2012. Environmental Aetiology of Malocclusions–Review of the Literature. Dental and Medical Problems, 49(4).
  4. Tomita, N.E., Bijella, V.T. and Franco, L.J., 2000. The relationship between oral habits and malocclusion in preschool children. Revista de saude publica34, pp.299-303
  5. Hassan, R. and Rahimah, A.K., 2007. Occlusion, malocclusion and method of measurements-an overview. Archives of orofacial sciences, 2, pp.3-9.
  6. Botelho, J., Machado, V., Proença, L., Delgado, A.S. and Mendes, J.J. (2020). Vitamin D Deficiency and Oral Health: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients, [online] 12(5). doi:10.3390/nu12051471.
  7. Khorshidi, H., Moaddeli, M.R., Golkari, A., Heidari, H. and Raoofi, S., 2016. The prevalence of pathologic tooth migration with respect to the severity of periodontitis. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry6(Suppl 2), p.S122.
  8. Sognnaes, R.F., 1941. Studies on masticatory efficiency: I. Review of literature. American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, 27(6), pp.A309-A312.
  9. Ritchard, A., Welsh, A. and Donnelly, C., 1992. The association between occlusion and attrition. Australian Orthodontic Journal, 12(3), pp.138-142.
  10. Kerosuo, H., 2002. The role of prevention and simple interceptive measures in reducing the need for orthodontic treatment. Medical Principles and Practice, 11(Suppl. 1), pp.16-21.
  11. Thilander, B., 2000, September. Biological basis for orthodontic relapse. In Seminars in orthodontics (Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 195-205). WB Saunders.
  12. Upton, L.G., Scott, R.F. and Hayward, J.R., 1984. Major maxillomandibular malrelations and temporomandibular joint pain-dysfunction. The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 51(5), pp.686-690.
  13. Fink, D.F. and Smith, R.J., 1992. The duration of orthodontic treatment. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 102(1), pp.45-51.
  14. Abraham, R., Kamath, G., Sodhi, J.S., Sodhi, S., Rita, C. and Sai Kalyan, S., 2013. Habit breaking appliance for multiple corrections. Case reports in dentistry, 2013.