If only adult teeth always grew in straight and evenly spaced without any help from an orthodontist. Unfortunately for many people, crooked teeth are a fact of life. Misaligned teeth can have a variety of causes, from genetics, malnutrition and oral habits to dental disease and poor dental hygiene. However, there are plenty of treatments available to fix teeth alignment and improve patients' self-confidence as well as their smiles.
What Causes Crooked Teeth?
Genes play a role in crooked teeth, but sometimes it isn't fair to blame your ancestors for your crooked smile. Genetics can be responsible for tooth misalignment that's caused by crowding, differently sized or shaped lower and upper jaws, missing teeth, too many teeth and poor tooth or palate development. A parent might also pass on an overbite to their child, where the upper teeth extend too far over the lower teeth, or an underbite, when the lower teeth sit slightly forward from the upper teeth.
Yet sometimes external factors impact teeth development and alignment. These external causes include diseases, injuries that affect the jaw, broken teeth, tooth extractions and mouth breathing due to enlarged adenoids or other maxillofacial conditions. What's more, thumb sucking or extended pacifier use may also cause crooked teeth.
For children whose jaws are still growing, a dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth and correct misaligned bites. Teeth and jaws aren't stuck in one position. With constant pressure from braces and other orthodontic equipment like palatal expanders and lingual bars, the teeth and jaws can slowly change alignment. Upper jaws can be made to expand with the proper treatment by an orthodontist.
If teeth are very crooked, the orthodontist may begin treatment by using a palatal expander to widen the upper jaw and a lingual bar to open out the lower jaw, if needed. The next stage is fitting the patient for braces. Through regular adjustments, braces gradually correct the position of the teeth. Finally, after removing the braces, the orthodontist fits a retainer that the patient wears to maintain the teeth in their new positions.
Some patients worry about how their braces will look, but modern braces aren't as noticeable as they used to be, and children and teens can have fun choosing from colorful rubber ligatures . Alternatively, patients who feel too self-conscious to wear regular braces can opt for lingual braces or aligners that are barely noticeable. Talk with an orthodontist about the best choice for you or your child's situation.
As well as knocking self-confidence, teeth that aren't perfectly aligned may cause jaw joint pain and may interfere with eating and speaking. If your teeth are crooked, there are plenty of options open to you. Affordable options are available for everything from a run-of-the-mill cleaning to a big decision like braces. Speak to your dentist about your concerns and discover how you can improve your smile.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.