What causes crooked teeth?: possible reasons listed!

What causes teeth to grow crooked? There are many answers to that question. Some people are blessed with perfectly aligned, straight teeth. Some are blessed with crooked teeth that complete their image. Zendaya, for instance. Her crooked front tooth suits her image just right, and it is adorable. It is almost as if it is her characteristic feature.

Let’s review and see what causes crooked teeth and how it can be prevented or treated if desired so. 

Possible reasons why you might have crooked teeth

There are many reasons why one might have crooked teeth. They could be hereditary, or a result of outside forces or bad habits. Let’s review them together.

  • Genetics – The reason why you have crooked or crowded teeth, overbite or underbite, teeth and jaw size and shape, hyperdontia (having extra teeth), and other dental features can be genetically passed down to you. Even if both of your parents have straight teeth, you may still have crooked teeth. Because this feature can skip one or a few generations.
  • Tongue thrusting – Thrusting movement at a young age, when you still have your baby teeth, causes overbite, protruded upper teeth, or overbite. Imagine bonsai trees. People shape them to give them a specific growth pattern. It should be done when the tree is young so that the tree grows around the pattern. You should never thrust your tongue against your teeth regardless of your age. But especially children should avoid it so that they do not develop malocclusion.
  • Lip posture – Your lips should be closed when your face is resting. Especially during our development stages, this can shift our teeth from their place. And that can cause misaligned teeth.
  • Problematic gums – Gum diseases, such as gingivitis, can cause your teeth to shift from their place. Because of these diseases, your gums grow weaker, and that makes the teeth move around. If periodontal diseases are not treated, you might lose some teeth, and that can also cause crooked teeth.
  • Malocclusion (misaligned jaw) – If you have overbite or underbite, that means that you have a misaligned jaw. Your upper teeth should fit right in front of your lower teeth. And also your upper and lower molars should fit almost as if they are pieces of a puzzle. Malocclusion can occur whether genetically or as a result of a reason such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, etc.
  • Size of your jaw – If your jaw size is smaller than your permanent teeth, you most likely will have crooked teeth. And if your jaw grows too large, your teeth may grow misaligned because of all the space. This occurrence is one of the common reasons that cause crooked, crowded teeth.
  • Inefficient nutrition – Nutrition is crucial for a growing child. If they are malnourished, it negatively affects the development of muscle, bone, and tissue growth. Poor nutrition can also lead to tooth decay and poor dental development. These can contribute to crooked teeth.
  • Facial injury – Taking a hit to your face hurts. Imagine also losing your tooth because of it, and then there is jaw trauma to deal with. Tooth loss and jaw trauma can cause crooked teeth. Let’s say you lost a tooth after a traumatic injury. The teeth next to the lost tooth will try to scooch over to the newly-found extra space. This can result in them shifting and getting crooked.
  • Aging – We all grow old. After a point in our lives, we slowly start to decline. We are not getting younger, and our bodies grow softer and weaker. This also affects our oral health. Our gums start to grow weaker to a point where they can no longer keep the teeth in their place like they used to. This results in incompatibility between the jaw bone and the teeth. And there we have it folks: tooth loss and misaligned teeth.

Why do teeth grow crooked?

We talked about genetic factors and outside factors. Other than those, what causes crooked teeth in babies? They can’t have been doing everything wrong, after all. Let’s talk about the other factors that cause adult teeth to grow crooked.

  • Losing baby teeth earlier – When a baby loses its teeth before its gum line is properly developed, it may not be strong enough to hold permanent teeth. So, as a result, they might have crooked bottom teeth or crooked front teeth.
  • Sucking your thumb – Just like tongue thrusting, babies sucking their thumb for an extended period of time can also mess with their jaw shape. Because their gums are still developing and easy to reshape since they are soft. It can cause teeth to grow around the thumb, causing an overbite, crowded or crooked teeth, narrowing of the palate, and so on. These issues can affect their speech and even their breathing.
  • Childhood facial injury – Outside factors happening during the development of a child can affect their appearance. Just like ivy, growing around a tree. When a child suffers a facial injury, it might affect their teeth alignment. They might experience shifting on the jaw or early tooth loss, or they might lose a permanent tooth. This later causes crowding or crooked teeth.

Do crooked teeth affect your general health? If so how?

Yes, it can affect your general health. Because it is harder to clean all of the surfaces of teeth properly when they are crooked or crowded. And improper cleaning can lead to tooth decay and gum diseases, such as periodontitis (severe gum infection). 

It can also cause you to breathe through your mouth most of the time if you develop a severe overbite and crooked teeth. Sleep apnea is not a fun experience, I’ll give you that.

Crooked teeth can also affect your chewing. You might have to chew more than the normal amount. And if you don’t, you may experience indigestion, which is also not fun. And since your teeth are not properly aligned, the way they rest in your mouth can cause enamel abrasion, TMJ, jaw strain, and even chronic headaches. 

Last but not least, it can affect your speech. Sure it can be cute, and we do not have a problem with it. But if you do have a problem with it, there are ways to prevent or treat your crooked teeth

How to prevent crooked teeth

We have talked about how bad habits from childhood can affect the alignment of teeth and the shape of the jaw. You should encourage your children to drop these habits if they do not wish to have crooked teeth. They should not be sucking their thumb or using pacifiers excessively. After a certain age, they should quit using those. If your baby has itchy gums, give them special toys to chew on that do not affect their teeth alignment. 

If they are showing signs of crooked teeth or lose a tooth way too early, consult a dentist to avoid further expensive orthodontic treatments. We can help prevent teeth from growing in crooked. 

Should you get your teeth straightened?

Unless it is affecting your dental hygiene and oral health, it is totally up to you. If you are happy with the way you look, no one but you have a say in this. Even the smallest misalignment of your teeth is what makes you unique. But, if you think straightening your teeth will make you happy, boost your confidence and help you with your dental hygiene, then go for it! Because when you smile, we smile.

References:

Bass TP. Crooked teeth and straight teeth. Health Visitor. 1976;49(9):286. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1050342/

Gardiner JH. Crooked teeth: their prevention and cure. District Nursing. 1969;12(5):84-86. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5195335/

Kahn S, Ehrlich P, Feldman M, Sapolsky R, Wong S. The Jaw Epidemic: Recognition, Origins, Cures, and Prevention. BioScience. 2020;70(9):759-771. doi:10.1093/biosci/biaa073

Nagahara K, Yuasa S, Yamada A, et al. [Etiological study of relationship between impacted permanent teeth and malocclusion]. Aichi Gakuin Daigaku Shigakkai Shi. 1989;27(4):913-924. Accessed December 1, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2489480/

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