Dealing With Crooked Teeth

By Premier Dental of Ohio

Dealing with Crooked Teeth

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

Actually, there are multiple potential causes of crooked teeth, and many people suffering from crowding and crookedness have a combination of one or more causes.  These factors affect the alignment of the teeth at various stages of life.

Genetic Predisposition

It is absolutely true that some people are prone to crooked teeth based on their genetics.  If both the biological mother and father have crowded teeth, it is highly likely for their children to also have crooked teeth.  This can stem from the size of the jaw, the size of the teeth, or both.

Undersized Jaw

When the teeth are normal in size and the jaw is too small to accommodate them, the teeth are likely to crowd upon each other, resulting in crooked teeth.  An undersized jaw may be the result of genetics, as discussed in the previous section, or the result of a growth problem.  

Large Teeth

In some cases, the jaw is the appropriate size for the face and body, and the teeth are abnormally large.  The resulting problem is the same as the previous scenario: there is not enough room for the teeth to come into the mouth in the correct alignment.  

Premature Loss of Baby Teeth

One of the many important purposes of baby teeth is to hold space for the incoming permanent teeth.  When a baby tooth is lost before it would naturally come out (either due to injury or decay), you can lose space in the arch for the underlying permanent tooth.  This may cause the permanent tooth to come into the mouth at an unusual angle or to the cheek or tongue-side of the dental arch.  

Childhood Habits

Habits like pacifier use and thumb-sucking that persist after the age of four can lead to crooked teeth.  These habits change the growth pattern of the jaws, making them narrower than they should be.  They can also push teeth into positions outside their appropriate spot in the arch.

Aging

Many people don’t know about this one.  It is a natural part of the aging process for teeth to crowd.  As we age, the friction between the teeth caused by chewing gradually wears the sides where two teeth touch (where you floss).  This wear causes flattening of the tooth surface and tiny spaces to open between the teeth.  Because teeth are constantly moving and shifting, they do not just allow these small gaps to remain open, but instead, they shift to close them.  This results in a forward movement (toward the front of the face) of the teeth in the mouth over time.  As they all push forward, they tend to pile up on each other and crowd together.

Aren’t Crooked Teeth Simply a Cosmetic Problem?

This is a great question, and one that we are happy to answer, no matter how often we hear it.  The answer is no.

Crooked teeth actually have a higher risk for dental diseases like cavities and gum disease.  The crowding leads to many areas where plaque can collect and avoid removal during brushing and flossing.  Excessive plaque buildup leads to gingivitis and tooth decay.  

Scientific research shows that not only does more plaque collect on crooked teeth.  The types of bacteria within that plaque is different from the bacteria in plaque that collects on straight teeth.  Crooked teeth tend to have bacteria that is stronger and more likely to cause more aggressive gum disease.

What are the Treatment Options for Crooked Teeth?

Ideally, we want to rearrange crooked teeth into a straight alignment within the jawbones of the dental arch.  That isn’t the only option, though.

Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment is the way dentists move teeth within the jawbone.  It is important to see a licensed dentist or orthodontist to move the teeth in order to ensure the health of the jawbone.  In rare cases, inappropriate movement of the teeth can destroy the jawbone, the roots of the teeth, or both!

Orthodontic options include both traditional braces with metal brackets and wires and clear aligner therapy, like Invisalign. These options are both capable of safely repositioning the teeth into a precisely prescribed position.

Seeing a licensed dentist or orthodontist is also important to ensure that orthodontic treatment is the only thing you require.  We never want to move teeth that are unhealthy due to cavities or gum disease.  Severe crowding may require the removal of one or more teeth to create the space necessary to properly align the teeth.

Dental Restorations

When the crowding is mild, sometimes we can improve the appearance of the smile by covering the teeth with dental restorations.  This is a wonderful treatment option when you want to change more than just the position of the teeth.  If the teeth are discolored or misshapen, you may want to consider covering them with porcelain veneers or dental crowns.  If the crowding is minor, we can begin there.  If the crowding is severe, we will align the teeth before performing any cosmetic dentistry.

How Long Does it Take to Straighten Crooked Teeth?

When you opt for orthodontic treatment to straighten your crooked teeth, the length of treatment depends on the severity of your crowding.  The more movement necessary to achieve the proper position of the teeth, the longer it will take.  Teeth with significant overlapping or rotation will require longer to align.  On average, orthodontic treatment for an adult takes about one and a half to two years to accomplish.

Mild cases of crooked teeth may only take four to six months for correction, while severe cases can take multiple years!

Once I Straighten Crooked Teeth, Will They Stay Straight?

This is a very important question to ask, and the answer is equally important.  It is NO!  The teeth will not naturally stay in their newly-straightened arrangement.  

Teeth commonly relapse into their former positions, and when you add to that the aging process described earlier, you can be sure the teeth will re-crowd if we do nothing to prevent it.

You can maintain the beautiful, straight alignment of your teeth by wearing the retainers prescribed to you by your dentist or orthodontist.  Most people need to wear them nightly, if they are removable.  Some orthodontists will “glue” in a wire retainer behind the lower front teeth to act as a permanent retainer.  

More Questions about Crooked Teeth?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule an orthodontic consultation with one of our dental experts.  We can answer any question you have about your crooked teeth and help you choose the treatment option that is right for you.

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