Crooked, misaligned teeth are very common. Many children and adults have them. If your teeth are crooked, you shouldn’t feel like you have to straighten them.
Teeth that aren’t perfectly aligned are unique to you and can add personality and charm to your smile.
However, if you’re unhappy with the way your teeth look, or if they’re causing health or speech issues, you can have them realigned.
Keep reading to find out why teeth come in crooked, the health problems they can sometimes cause, and the techniques used to align them.
What causes crooked teeth?
Both baby teeth and permanent teeth can come in crooked, or they can become crooked. Baby teeth sometimes move into crooked positions because they’re too small to fill the amount of gum space allocated to them.
Prolonged habits, such as sucking on a pacifier or thumb, can also cause baby teeth to become pushed out or crooked. Heredity and genetics may also play a role.
Having crooked baby teeth doesn’t mean your child will have crooked permanent teeth. However, if baby teeth grow in crowded together, the permanent teeth may be crowded as well.
If trauma to the mouth or tooth decay causes one or more baby teeth to fall out sooner than they would naturally, the permanent teeth that follow may grow out of the gums slanted rather than straight.
Other issues affecting baby teeth that can also affect permanent teeth include:
The modern diet of soft, processed food that many people consume requires less chewing than the foods eaten by our early ancestors.
This change has altered our collective jaw size, making it smaller. Scientists believe that our evolved, shorter jaw may be responsible for crowded, crooked, and misaligned teeth.
Poor myofunctional habits
Myofunctional habits are repetitive behaviors that affect the muscles or functions of the mouth or face. They include:
- thumb sucking
- pacifier or bottle use
- tongue thrusting
- mouth breathing
Malocclusion (misaligned jaw)
Your upper teeth are meant to fit slightly over your lower teeth, with the points of your upper molars fitting into the grooves of your lower molars. When this alignment doesn’t occur, malocclusion results.
Common misalignments include overbite and underbite. If you have an overbite, your upper front teeth protrude out farther than your lower front teeth.
If you have an underbite, your lower front teeth jut out farther than your upper front teeth. Poor myofunctional habits can cause a malocclusion to occur.
Genetics and heredity
If one or both of your parents had crowded or crooked teeth, it’s possible that you will, too. You may also inherit an overbite or underbite from your parents.
Poor dental care
Not having your teeth checked at least annually by a dentist can sometimes mean that problems, such as gum disease and cavities, go untreated. This can lead to crooked teeth and other dental health problems.
Poor nutrition, especially in children, can lead to tooth decay and poor dental development, which are potential precursors to crooked teeth.
A hit to the face or mouth can knock teeth out of place, resulting in one or more crooked teeth.