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What are Crooked Teeth: Causes, Implications and Treatment Options

By Dr. Cheng Eng Wah on 25 April 2022

Categories: Braces, Dental Care, Invisalign
Side view of crooked teeth on black background

Crooked teeth can be characterised by overcrowding or twisted or overlapping teeth. This condition is very common and can be experienced by individuals of all ages.

Deciding on whether to fix your teeth depends on your personal preference and the severity of the condition. If you’re concerned about your appearance or experience any health conditions or speech difficulties due to your teeth, teeth straightening may be recommended by your dentist.

To learn more about crooked teeth, read about the causes, implications and treatment options below!

You can tell that your teeth are crooked when they are misaligned.

Other signs that may hint at the condition include:

  • Asymmetrical facial features
  • Chewing difficulties or discomfort
  • Speech difficulties such as a lisp

There are various causes of crooked teeth including genetics, dental issues, physical trauma, habits and diet.

Infographic of the causes of crooked teeth

  • Genetics

    Crooked teeth can be a result of genetics.

    Despite maintaining good oral hygiene, children may experience this issue if their parents have it too.

  • Teeth Misalignment

    Crowding, overbites and underbites are some of the main types of teeth misalignments, otherwise known as malocclusions. These conditions can result in overlapping or twisted teeth.

  • Facial Trauma

    Injury to your face or jaw can cause your jaw to shift. This can result in your teeth or bite becoming misaligned. 

    In addition, if you lose a tooth due to the injury, the rest of your teeth may shift to fill the gap.

  • Dental Problems

    Dental issues such as bruxism and impacted wisdom teeth can apply pressure to your teeth, causing them to shift and become crooked.

    Additionally, poor dental care can lead to cavities and gum disease, causing crooked teeth among other dental issues.

  • Undesirable Dental Habits

    Childhood habits like sucking your thumb or using a pacifier may apply pressure to your gums and cause your teeth to shift.

    Other habits such as tongue thrusting and mouth breathing can also contribute to your teeth growing crooked.

  • Jaw Size

    The general shift in diet towards processed and softer foods has resulted in the shrinking of our jaws.

    This can cause teeth to grow crooked due to the lack of space in the jaw.

  • Insufficient Nutrients

    A lack of nutrients can negatively affect the development of your tissue, muscles and bones.

    The lack of vitamins, especially vitamins A, D and K2, can even cause crooked teeth and other dental issues such as tooth decay.

Poor Oral Health

Crooked teeth can be more difficult to clean as certain teeth may be crowded together or overlapping. As such, it can be harder to reach and brush them properly. This can result in poorer oral health and dental issues such as plaque buildup, tooth decay and gum disease

In serious cases, it can even lead to periodontitis, which affects your tissue, bones and teeth.

 

Excess Wear and Tear

Excess wear and tear can result from teeth misalignment due to an uneven pressure placed on certain teeth. This can lead to Temporomandibular Jaw (TMJ) disorder, which can cause headaches, jaw tenderness and pain in the neck, shoulder and face.

 

Chewing and Digesting Difficulties

Crooked teeth can make chewing more difficult. As such, food may not be broken down well in the mouth, causing digestion problems.

 

Speech Difficulties

Difficulties with speech and pronunciation can arise due to crooked teeth and proper articulation may be more challenging.

 

Low Self-esteem

Crooked teeth can negatively impact your self-esteem as you become more conscious of your appearance. Moreover, as your teeth become more difficult to clean due to misalignments, they may become stained and this can affect your self-confidence.

Visiting the dentist regularly for checkups can help to identify any teeth misalignments as soon as possible and allow for early intervention.

To diagnose crooked teeth, your dentist may use X-rays and imaging and/or dental impressions.

  • X-rays and Imaging

    X-rays and photographs can show the position of your teeth in relation to your jaw. They can also show the relationship between your jaw and head.

  • Dental Impressions

    Dental impressions are imprints of your teeth and can be physical or digital. They’re used to create replicas of your teeth and can be used for various treatments and diagnosis.

    At i.Dental, we use the iTero Element Scanner to create a digital imprint of your teeth.

Fixing crooked teeth is a personal choice. It may not be necessary for mild cases and those who don’t experience any dental issues.

However, if you wish to straighten your teeth, here are some treatment options.

Braces

Braces are orthodontic devices that can be used to straighten crooked or misaligned teeth. It applies pressure to shift your teeth to the desired position.

There are 2 main types of braces — traditional and self-ligating, and both types are available with metal or ceramic brackets.

Frequency of dental visits: Every 4 weeks
Cost: $4,173 – $6,206 (with GST)

Invisalign

Invisalign is a clear aligner system that’s commonly used for teeth straightening. It is virtually invisible and can be removed before meals, ensuring minimal disruption to your daily life.

It also applies a more gentle and consistent pressure to your teeth so you are likely to experience less pain during the treatment process.

Frequency of dental visits: Every 6 – 8 weeks
Cost: $4,815 – $9,095 (with GST)

Retainers

While retainers aren’t used to straighten your teeth, these orthodontic devices help to hold your teeth in their desired position after your braces or Invisalign treatment is completed.

They can be permanent or removable, depending on your needs and preferences.

Treating crooked teeth offers many benefits with regard to both your oral health and quality of life. By straightening your teeth, you can

  • clean them more easily,
  • improve your dental hygiene,
  • reduce the strain on your teeth and jaws,
  • chew better, and
  • improve your overall self-esteem.

There are many myths surrounding crooked teeth. Here, we debunk 4 common myths and misconceptions about this dental issue!

 

Myth #1: Crooked teeth are just a cosmetic concern

While crooked teeth pose an aesthetic problem, they may not only be about your appearance. In fact, they can lead to various dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay and even TMJ disorder.

 

Myth #2: Crooked teeth are only caused by genetics or bad habits

This myth isn’t entirely false — genetics and childhood habits can cause crooked teeth. However, did you know that your diet can also contribute to this dental issue?

In particular, a lack of certain nutrients or a tendency towards soft foods can affect the size of your jaw and the development of your bones and teeth.

 

Myth #3: Crooked teeth only occur in childhood

A common misconception is that crooked teeth only occur in childhood when your teeth and jaw are growing. However, this is not true and your teeth can still grow crooked in adulthood due to issues such as impacted wisdom teeth or bruxism.

 

Myth #4: Yoga and tongue exercises can fix crooked teeth

Crooked teeth cannot be straightened on their own and yoga or tongue exercises won’t help with this issue. To treat this condition, orthodontic devices such as braces or Invisalign are required.

FAQs

Your teeth can be crooked due to various reasons such as:

  • Genetics
  • Jaw size
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Dental problems
  • Childhood habits
  • Facial trauma
  • Lack of nutrition

A fully erupted wisdom tooth is unlikely to cause your teeth to become crooked. However, according to Dr. Pua, a wisdom tooth that’s impacted against other teeth can potentially apply pressure and cause them to shift. As a result, your teeth may become crooked.

In such cases, you’re encouraged to seek your dentist for advice. You may be recommended to extract your wisdom tooth or start orthodontic treatment to correct the misalignment.

You can leave your crooked teeth untreated if they aren’t causing any dental issues or affecting your daily life. However, if you notice that your oral health is negatively affected, you’re recommended to seek treatment to prevent further complications.

No, it’s possible to get your teeth straightened even as an older adult! However, the treatment time for braces or Invisalign may be longer and surgery may be required in severe cases.

Depending on the complexity of your condition, treatment for crooked teeth may require 6 to 24 months. 

After undergoing braces or Invisalign treatment, your dentist will recommend wearing retainers to maintain the position of your teeth.

It may not be possible to mitigate against factors such as genetics and the shape of your jaw. However, you can reduce the chances of crooked teeth by fixing childhood habits and ensuring a balanced diet with a sufficient intake of vitamins A, D and K2.

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