Causes of Crooked Teeth (and How to Fix Them)
Crooked teeth can make even the whitest smile look a little off kilter. It’s frustrating to take great care of your teeth and still not get the smile you want. Brushing and flossing faithfully every day can make your teeth look clean, but the lack of evenness detracts from the effect you are trying to achieve.
What Causes Crooked Teeth?
If your parents have teeth that aren’t straight, you probably inherited this trait from them. Genetics is the most common cause of crooked teeth. If your jaw is too small to allow room for your teeth to grow in straight, they may start rotating out of alignment or overlapping to make room. If you lost a baby tooth too early, this might have lead to problems with spacing as your adult teeth grew in.
Some orthodontists place much of the blame for crooked teeth on soft tissue problems. It’s true that pressure from the lips, cheeks, and tongue can slowly move teeth out of place over time. This is most likely to happen during childhood due to prolonged bottle feeding, pacifier use, thumb sucking, or tongue thrusting. A child who has difficulty breathing through their nose may develop the habit of mouth breathing which causes the jaw to hang open most of the time. This behavior may impact how the jaw grows as well.
As an adult, you might develop crooked teeth after an injury that impacts your jaw or the loss of a tooth that allows surrounding teeth to shift out of place. Your dentist might also be partly responsible if you have dental prosthetics such as crowns that weren’t fitted correctly.
Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Jaws are Bad for Your Dental Health
The biting and chewing surfaces won’t match up, making it difficult to chew correctly. This, in turn, can place unnecessary strain on your jaw muscles, leading to chronic pain or muscle spasms. You could be at higher risk for tooth pain and damage such as abnormal wear or breakage. The most common issue seen with crooked teeth is difficulty cleaning. Those nooks and crannies invite bacteria to hide out where they can infect your gums and rot your teeth. You might also find it difficult to enunciate clearly when you speak. Finally, crooked teeth can make you feel unsure about your appearance – leading you to smile reluctantly or be less sociable than you would otherwise.
How to Fix Crooked Teeth
There are a couple of different approaches a dentist may recommend to correct the alignment of your teeth. If the problem is more cosmetic than functional, a dental veneer may provide a quick fix. If the tooth is rotated, some enamel is removed from the original tooth at an angle to provide a surface that lines up correctly with the rest of your teeth. The color matched, custom made porcelain veneer is mounted on this new, flat surface. This cover up job is probably not going to be permanent since veneers don’t last forever. However, you should be able to get a new veneer fitted easily when the first one wears out. A single veneer may cost between $1,000-1,300.
Braces are a long term solution for crooked teeth. They can correct the appearance of teeth, restore function, and correct bite misalignment. Treatment with braces may take several years depending on the severity of the defect being corrected. An orthodontist may provide many different braces options including metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual (behind the teeth) braces, and alignment trays (like Invisalign). Prices vary depending on the length of treatment and the number of office visits required. An average course of treatment may run $5000. If you wear your retainer faithfully as recommended by your orthodontist, your crooked teeth probably won’t return and you can enjoy a straight, even smile for life.