Why do some people end up with a mouth full of straight, even teeth, and some end up with crooked teeth or teeth that protrude and cross over each other? Does it have to do with genetics? Childhood nutrition?

The truth is, there are several reasons that some people end up with teeth that are crooked, overlapping or protruding (overbites/underbites). Sometimes, genetics are to blame, but there are many other causes as well.

Causes of Crooked Teeth

  • A smaller than average mouth (teeth are crowded and overlap or grow in crooked)
  • A misaligned jaw (resulting in an overbite or underbite)
  • Dental restorations (crowns, fillings, etc.) that don’t fit properly
  • Facial injuries
  • Gingivitis
  • Genetics
  • Early loss of baby or adult teeth
  • Unhealthy childhood habits such as thumb-sucking, using a pacifier, tongue thrusting and drinking from a bottle into the toddler years.

Just as there are several causes of misaligned or crooked teeth, there is more than one way to correct the problem, too.

Treating Crooked Teeth

  • Extraction: In the case of overcrowding, one or more teeth may have to be extracted before additional treatment can proceed.
  • Braces: Braces work to slowly move teeth into their correct positions.They typically consist of four parts: brackets, bonding material, archwire and ligature elastic. These components all work together to put pressure on the teeth in a specific direction. Today, you can often choose between metal, clear plastic and ceramic (enamel-colored) braces.
  • Aligners: Systems like Invisalign® consist of a series of clear plastic aligners that are changed out periodically as teeth move. These are very popular with adults who want to straighten their teeth, but feel self-conscious about wearing metal braces as an adult. They aren’t the right solution for everyone, however, because they tend to work best on teeth that aren’t severely out of alignment.
  • Retainers: A retainer is a must once teeth have been brought into alignment in order to keep them from reverting back to their original positions.
  • Surgery: In the case of a severe overbite or underbite, reconstructive surgery is sometimes necessary to reshape the jaw.

If you have crooked teeth, the first thing to do is to consult your dentist or orthodontist, who will determine the best plan of action to give you the smile you’ve always dreamed of!