What Causes Crooked Teeth?

Mary McMahon

The varying causes of crooked teeth can include inherited traits, injuries to the mouth, and poor oral development. Over time, misaligned teeth can create problems with eating and speaking, and may cause jaw pain and discomfort. Treatment options usually involve an orthodontist, who can correct badly positioned teeth with dental hardware and surgery, if necessary. It may take several months to years to align the teeth, and the patient needs to be consistent about treatment for it to be effective.

People with misaligned teeth can receive treatment at any age.
People with misaligned teeth can receive treatment at any age.

Some families appear to have a genetic predisposition to crooked teeth. Their oral development is otherwise healthy and there is enough room in the jaw for the teeth, but they grow in crooked. Wearing retainers and braces can help pull the teeth into position as they develop so they will grow in straight. People aware of a family history of this problem may want to discuss it with their dentists to make sure their children receive early interventions.

Poor dental work may cause crooked teeth.
Poor dental work may cause crooked teeth.

In some instances, the jaw is undersized or oversized, which can create crowding or awkward spacing. This can lead to crooked teeth over time as the teeth struggle to fit in. Other problems with oral development, like a jaw twisted out of alignment, can also push the teeth out of position. Injuries to the mouth such as those incurred in an accident can be another cause, as can oral tumors that press against developing teeth.

Braces are a common treatment for crooked teeth.
Braces are a common treatment for crooked teeth.

Poor dental work is also sometimes associated with crooked teeth. If children need extractions or other procedures, they need to be performed with care and consideration. The dentist must think about the child’s long term oral development, and must use appropriate spacers and other devices to protect the teeth. Regular checkups are also important so the dentist can determine if a spacer needs to be adjusted or removed as the child’s mouth grows.

Treatment options for crooked teeth may involve surgery.
Treatment options for crooked teeth may involve surgery.

Habits like thumb sucking, pushing at the teeth with the tongue, or chewing on objects like pacifiers can also contribute to crooked teeth. Children may use these habits for comfort under stress. Long-term persistence of these habits can cause problems with oral development. It can help to provide something for the child to transition to that may be less damaging, like concentrating on drawing or squeezing a stress ball during periods of distress.

Untreated, crooked teeth can grow worse over time. They can also be hard to safely clean and scale in routine dental procedures, which can increase the risk of cavities and infections. People with misaligned teeth can receive treatment at any age, although early intervention is preferable, if possible.

Habits like thumb sucking can sometimes contribute to crooked teeth.
Habits like thumb sucking can sometimes contribute to crooked teeth.

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Discussion Comments

anon236638

This is an interesting article and in line with conventional wisdom. However, I feel that this is erroneous and needs to be updated. For 200,000 years, we have been anatomical humans, from skull records is is clear that until the industrial revolution malocclusion or crooked teeth were prevalent in less than 5 percent of the population and is now a feature present in 95 percent of the population. Over this period of time, there cannot have been any genetic change. All the evidence supports a environmental change and there is little or no evidence to support any genetic causes. The most likely causes are a change in the consistency of the diet, a change in mandibular lingual tongue position and childhood weaning.

Whatever the case, we must debate this issue, as it is vitally important for our children. How can we treat 30 percent of the population based on assumed ideas? Be informed, it's your child.

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