Written by Dr. Kriti Arora, BDS, MDS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI.
1. What does crooked teeth mean?
2. What causes crooked teeth?
3. What health issues are caused by malaligned teeth?
4. Crooked teeth treatment
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.
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:
If most of your responses end up YES, you have crooked teeth.
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:
Teeth reflect the genes of our parents. If your parents had crooked teeth, you have likely inherited the same from them. (2)
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:
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)
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)
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)
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.
With advancing age, our teeth also undergo several changes. Natural wearing of the teeth over time may contribute to misaligned teeth.
Crooked teeth cause many issues that are not only limited to your oral health but also affect your overall health.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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)
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!