Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, sitting on the couch watching TV, flipping through a glossy magazine in the doctor’s waiting room – wherever we turn, it seems as though we’re bombarded by images of perfectly straight, perfectly bright, pearly white smiles. But a glance in the mirror, or at the people surrounding us in everyday life, makes it clear that very few of us actually possess that all-American, A-lister smile.
Our teeth are designed with function in mind rather than perfection. In fact, having crooked teeth is more common than not!
But what is it causes teeth to become crowded, twisted, or overlapped, and what are the benefits of correcting them? Our team here at Kaplan Orthodontics explores this topic below, so keep reading to find out more!
The most common causes of crooked teeth
There are quite a few reasons why your teeth may grow in crooked, including things like:
By far, the most frequent cause of crooked teeth is genetics. When you get right down to it, most of us have about as much control over how our teeth develop as we do over the color of our hair or our eyes. The dental traits that can lead to crowding of the teeth and jaw misalignment are often inherited from your parents.
In some cases, crooked teeth can also be related to the size of your mouth. If you have a small mouth, there’s a greater chance that crowded teeth could cause other teeth to shift from their normal position. Misaligned jaws can also lead to issues like underbites and overbites, which are abnormal protrusions that result in the upper or lower teeth extending beyond each other.
There are some habits that form during infancy that create a ripple effect you don’t notice until many years later. The most obvious of these would be if you’ve sucked your thumb or fingers for comfort, or used a pacifier for self-soothing, particularly if this habit extended past babyhood and well into toddlerhood. These behaviors seem harmless (and even helpful to tired parents!) but they can often result in crooked teeth developing as you grow older.
There are other habits that can contribute to an ongoing misalignment of the jaw and crowding of the teeth, but these are often unconscious in nature. Sometimes referred to as “myofunctional” habits, these can include things like mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, and reverse swallowing. These are not uncommon habits, and many people will develop at least one in their lifetime.
Illness or injury
Some types of facial trauma, such as a jaw or mouth injury, can have the effect of moving teeth out of place. Traumas are actually the most common cause of the most severe instances of crooked teeth. Losing teeth or having your jaw shift due to injury or illness can lead to the remaining teeth gradually shifting to make up for that lost space. It’s especially important to seek out qualified orthodontic treatment for these issues, because our bodies compensate for harm much more quickly than the slower changes that happen from genes or bad habits.
The permanent teeth underneath your baby teeth are directly affected by the health of those baby teeth. If you’ve lost these baby teeth prematurely due to decay, trauma, or other factors, the permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward. Baby teeth are a bit like small anchors for permanent teeth, and they help to guide them as they erupt through the gums. If those anchors are missing, the permanent teeth may come up in unexpected places!
Taking excellent care of baby teeth is also a vital part of having healthy permanent teeth that are free of discoloration or decay. Harmful oral bacteria is able to spread into the gums and reach permanent teeth still buried there. Once it attaches to a tooth’s enamel, the bacteria will begin eroding it even before it has a chance to fully erupt.
The impact of crooked teeth
No matter the actual cause behind them, crooked teeth can adversely affect your health in some surprising ways, such as:
Developing periodontal disease isn’t entirely uncommon with crooked teeth that are left untreated. Gum disease develops when bacteria in our mouth forms into plaque. When your gums don’t fit securely around your teeth, it leaves more room for that bacteria to grow. And because it’s more difficult to clean crooked teeth effectively, with floss and toothbrushes struggling to reach all the nooks and crannies, this can further encourage the growth of bacteria that can lead to gum disease.
Added wear and tear, increased risk of injuries
Crowded bottom teeth can often cause one or more tooth to protrude, which can rub against your upper teeth, leading to an uneven wearing down of the tooth enamel over time. Over time, this can lead to undue wear of tooth enamel. Protruding upper teeth are also more likely to chip or crack in the event of an accident.
Chewing difficulties, bad breath
Protruding upper and lower teeth can not only lead to trouble with enamel chipping or cracking, they may also rub together in a way that prevents normal jaw alignment, making it difficult to chew effectively. These can also cause a problem with unpleasant breath, since it’s generally caused by bacteria lingering in the mouth, and as we’ve discussed, that bacteria can be difficult to eradicate from in between crooked teeth.
Several studies have shown that a more aesthetically pleasing smile will increase the amount you smile, which in turn can lower stress, improve cognitive ability, and increase your self-esteem. Having crooked teeth can keep you hiding your smile and may reduce the amount of confidence you have in it!
Once an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Kaplan has fully examined your mouth, he’ll be able to establish a diagnosis, and will follow this up by outlining what he considers to be the best treatment for your specific case. Depending on the gravity of the problem, treatment could range from something as simple as a retainer, to something as commonplace as braces, to a more serious option like surgery.
If you’re in Dunwoody or the surrounding area and are dealing with crooked teeth, get in touch with us today and schedule a consultation to find out what we can offer you. Together we can straighten out your smile!