Crooked teeth: how they happen and how to fix them

22 September · 3 minutes

Everyone wants a confident, healthy smile. However, the perfect smile rarely comes naturally due to dental issues that arise for various reasons. These include genetics or trauma. Issues like crooked teeth, dental crowding, slanted teeth, and uneven teeth affect the overall appearance and health of teeth. If you happen to have crooked front, back, top, or bottom teeth and you’re curious as to how you can fix them, this article is written for you. We address why teeth are crooked, what causes them to be that way, how to avoid them, and of course, how to fix and align them.

What causes crooked teeth and what are they?

Crooked teeth are when one or more teeth are rotated or tilted, causing aesthetic issues and dental malocclusion. Why do teeth grow crooked? Several factors can cause crooked top or bottom teeth. Many people have had misaligned teeth since childhood due to genetics—inherited from a parent—or because their mouth is too small. Now, let’s break down what causes crooked teeth at various stages of life:

Crooked teeth in babies and toddlers

Baby teeth begin to grow between six and 12 months. When they grow in, baby teeth can also be crooked. Here are some of the most common causes:

  1. Genetics
    Crooked baby teeth are not always a problem. However, the baby teeth serve as a guide for where the permanent teeth will be placed. There can sometimes be a correlation between baby teeth that come in crooked and adult teeth coming in crooked as well.
  2. Crooked teeth from pacifiers
    In short, pacifiers can cause your baby’s teeth to come in crooked. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, it is important to stop pacifier use by the age of 2 to avoid problems to your child's oral health. The American Dental Association notes that pacifiers can affect the proper growth of the mouth and can cause crooked front teeth.
  3. Crooked teeth from thumb sucking
    Thumb-sucking is a natural and common habit among infants and toddlers, and is generally not a cause for concern. Children thumb-suck for a variety of reasons: sleepy, to relax, or even when they’re hungry. The act of thumb-sucking is calming and gives the child security. However, like pacifiers, if children continue to suck their fingers after the age of four, parents should encourage them to stop in order to avoid any unnecessary oral health issues like malocclusion problems and crooked front teeth, both top and bottom.
 Child pointing to lower teeth

Crooked teeth in kids

Kids with crooked teeth are fairly common. You can begin to see if a child's teeth are crooked between the ages of five to six once their baby teeth begin to give way to permanent ones. Here are a few ways why permanent teeth erupt crooked:

  1. Impacted teeth. Sometimes the teeth fail to erupt in the mouth once they are formed inside the jaws, being included within them. They are the so-called included teeth. The canines are the teeth that most often remain unerupted since they erupt later than the incisors. If there is a lack of space in the upper arch, the teeth may be totally or partially included, causing kids teeth to come in crooked. The included teeth often collide with the teeth next to them, leading the impacted teeth to rotate or tilt.
  2. Small mouth. It is quite common for patients to lack space in their dental arches. This happens more frequently when the permanent teeth grow in because they are larger than baby teeth. A smaller arch does not allow all teeth to fit in the mouth, causing dental crowding and crooked teeth.

Adults with crooked teeth

If your teeth didn’t come in crooked as a child, you can still end up with crooked teeth as an adult. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Wisdom teeth. When wisdom teeth erupt, they can cause misaligned teeth because they can create a lack of space in the upper and lower arches. When the arch is too small for the wisdom teeth to fit, dental crowding occurs, causing crooked teeth due to lack of space.
  2. Periodontitis. Periodontitis (also known as gum disease) is another reason why adult teeth can become crooked. When the infection damages the soft tissue, without treatment, it can begin to destroy the bone that supports your teeth—making it easier for teeth to move.
  3. Trauma. Trauma to teeth can alter their position and can cause badly crooked teeth. There are a few different types of trauma teeth can experience. First avulsion—where the tooth is completely displaced from the tooth socket. Then there's lateral luxation—this is when a tooth is displaced, and a neighboring bone is fractured. Next is an intrusion—this is where a tooth is pushed into the bone. And finally, extrusion—where the tooth is pushed entirely out of the bone.
Adult placing aligners in mouth

How to fix crooked teeth

There isn’t one treatment method to fix crooked teeth. Depending on the age and the degree of case complexity, there are several treatment options for crooked teeth. Here are a few different types of treatments for fixing crooked teeth:

Interceptive treatment

Interceptive treatment, also known as phase one is the first stage of the two-phase pediatric orthodontic treatment to prevent crooked teeth in children. Because a child's jaw is still developing, interceptive orthodontics help prevents dental and mandibular malformations.

Braces or aligners for crooked teeth

For children and adults, using braces or aligners are definitive solutions to fix crooked teeth. Although orthodontic treatment can be started at any age, it is best to begin as early as possible to prevent or avoid crooked teeth. The most advanced way to fix crooked teeth is by using clear aligners. Additionally, other invisible orthodontics like ceramic, sapphire and lingual braces are also beneficial for more complex cases. Traditional metal and self-ligating braces can also resolve crooked teeth. All of these dental devices are great options to straighten teeth and resolve malocclusion issues.

Crooked teeth: before and after clear aligners

Clear aligners, are one of the best options if you’re looking to fix crooked teeth. Impress x Uniform Many patients see us to get aligners for crooked teeth. Teeth aligner treatments can fix nearly all dental problems, and they’re just as effective as traditional braces. Our aligners act as clear splits and can precisely align a patient's teeth and obtain results in as little as six months. Check out these incredible results of our patients before and after clear aligners here.

Child pointing to molar tooth

How to fix crooked teeth without braces: are veneers an alternative?

The most common method to fix crooked teeth without braces is dental veneers. Although crooked teeth cannot be corrected without orthodontics, they can be concealed behind veneers.

Can veneers fix crooked teeth? Veneers for overlapping teeth are usually only recommended when there are minor teeth issues such as slightly crooked teeth. Although veneers is a quick and painless method, one should note that more serious problems such as malocclusion or severe dental malpositions can still exist. These dental issues must still be solved with orthodontic treatment. Regarding your particular case, your orthodontist will decide which is the most appropriate solution.

How to prevent crooked teeth

Many wonder how to prevent or how to avoid crooked teeth altogether. The answer to that is: to start young. To prevent adult teeth from coming in crooked, children from five-six years old should go to the dentist for regular check-ups every six months. In some cases, specialists will recommend using removable or fixed dental spacers to avoid future crowding and badly crooked teeth. This is called interceptive orthodontics. Additionally, parents should pay attention to their child's habits such as prolonged use of a pacifier and thumb sucking.

Can crooked teeth cause health problems?

When it comes to the consequences of crooked teeth, not all issues are purely aesthetic. Crooked teeth can lead to a variety of problems for your oral health. Here are some crooked teeth problems that could arise when teeth are not properly aligned:

  1. Caries, tartar, and periodontitis. Straight teeth allow for better hygiene. You can brush, floss, and keep your gums healthy with straighter teeth. Crooked teeth are hard to clean effectively, which means that debris, plaque, and bacteria can build up in hard-to-reach areas—creating an accumulation of tartar, cavities, and possibly periodontitis.
  2. Tooth wear. When teeth are badly crooked or inclined, there can be an excess of dental friction when biting in certain areas. This, over a period of time, can lead to excessive tooth wear.
  3. Bite issues. Can crooked teeth cause pain? When teeth are not properly aligned, also known as malocclusion, people can experience discomfort or difficulty while chewing. Comprehensive orthodontic treatment works to eliminate symptoms and realign your bite for better functionality.
  4. Receding gums. Crooked teeth can also cause gum recession, which can lead to tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods or beverages. Additionally, teeth that have a build-up of plaque and tartar deposits increase the risk of gum disease development.

Impress clear aligners for crooked teeth: the discreet solution

Can aligners fix crooked teeth? At Impress we are able to correct and align crooked teeth, crowding, malocclusion, and close gaps. Our clear aligners are a hygienic, discreet, and comfortable way to treat crooked teeth because they are removable and transparent.

To learn more about our aligners for crooked teeth, we invite you to visit us for your free consultation with an expert doctor. During your visit, you will take a 360º X-ray and a 3D intra-oral scan to ensure your teeth and oral health is ready to begin orthodontic treatment.

Now that you are the expert in crooked teeth—schedule your free consult by calling us at 888.490.142 or schedule online. For further assistance, you can email our care team at careteam@uniformteeth.com.

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FAQ about crooked teeth

Can my teeth become crooked again after braces or aligners?

In short, yes your teeth can relapse into having crooked teeth after braces or aligners. After you complete orthodontic treatment, your teeth need to stay in their new position and the bone around your teeth needs to recalcify in order to hold your teeth in their new spot. To maintain aligned teeth and avoid misaligned teeth after braces, patients must wear their retainers.

Why are my teeth getting crooked as I get older?

Teeth can get crooked with age. Your teeth move throughout your lifetime, even after your baby teeth have fallen out.

Are crooked teeth genetic?

Genetics can impact the development of teeth. Crooked teeth can occur if your family tends to develop overbites or underbites. Some genetic factors causing crooked teeth in children include extra teeth, abnormally large teeth, overbites, underbites, and misaligned jaws.

Can retainers fix crooked teeth?

No. Only orthodontic treatment can align crooked teeth.


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