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Crooked teeth

Crooked and misaligned teeth are quite common in both children and adults. If you have crooked teeth, you should not feel like you have to straighten them. Your teeth are unique to you and often add to the charm of your smile and personality.

However, if your crooked teeth make you unhappy or cause speech or health issues, you can realign them.

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What causes crooked teeth?

Baby and permanent teeth can erupt crooked or gradually become crooked. Baby teeth may also shift into crooked positions because they are small compared to the gum space.

Prolonged habits like sucking on a thumb or pacifier can also cause baby teeth to become crooked or pushed out. Genetics and heredity may contribute to crooked teeth.

A baby with crooked teeth may not have crooked permanent teeth, but if baby teeth come in crowded, permanent teeth may also be crowded.

If tooth decay or trauma to the mouth makes one or two baby teeth fall out before they naturally should, the permanent teeth that replaced it may come in slanted instead of straight. Other issues that affect baby teeth may also affect permanent teeth.

These issues include:

  • Jaw size

Our modern diet of soft, processed food requires less chewing than the food our forefathers ate. This has led to a general reduction in our jaw size. Experts believe our evolved, smaller jaw may be responsible for crooked, crowded and misaligned teeth.

  • Poor myofunctional habits

Myofunctional habits are repetitive behaviours that affect the functions and muscles of the face or mouth. They include:

  • Tongue thrusting
  • Thumb sucking
  • Mouth breathing
  • Bottle or pacifier use
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Malocclusion (misaligned jaw)

The upper teeth are supposed to fit slightly over the lower teeth, with the upper points of the molar fitting into the grooves of the lower molar. Malocclusion is the case if this alignment doesn’t occur.

The common misalignments include underbite and overbite. The upper front teeth sit farther than the lower front teeth in an overbite. The lower front teeth sit farther than the upper front teeth for an underbite. Poor myofunctional habits can result in malocclusion.

  • Heredity and genetics

If a parent or both parents have crooked or crowded teeth, the child may also have a dental issue. You can also get an overbite or underbite from your parents.

  • Poor dental care

Missing annual dental appointments means your dental issues, such as cavities and gum disease, may go untreated. This may result in crooked teeth and other dental health conditions.

  • Poor nutrition

Poor nutrition, particularly in children, can result in poor dental development and tooth decay, which may lead to crooked teeth.

  • Facial injury

A hit to your mouth or face can knock out your teeth, resulting in cracked teeth.

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Issues from crooked teeth

Sometimes, crooked teeth can affect the quality of life. For example, crooked or misaligned teeth can affect how you chew, leading to pain whenever you eat.

Some people also feel self-conscious about their crooked teeth, preventing them from smiling and avoiding social interactions.

Other health problems that crooked teeth can cause are:

  • Periodontal disease

Cleaning between crooked teeth may be difficult, resulting in gum disease and tooth decay. Untreated, crooked teeth can cause gum disease and periodontitis, a more serious infection that damages the teeth and bones.

  • Chewing and digestion

Crooked teeth may affect your chewing, leading to digestion problems.

  • Excess wear

Crooked teeth often lead to the wearing down of the gums, jaw muscles and teeth. This results in temporomandibular joint disorder, chronic headaches, jaw stains and cracked teeth.

  • Speech difficulties

If you have misaligned teeth, how you articulate sounds may be affected, resulting in speech difficulties.

  • Self-esteem

Crooked teeth can make some people unhappy with their physical appearance, leading to social avoidance and low self-esteem.

Should I straighten crooked teeth?

Straightening your teeth is a decision only you can make. For most people, dental health insurance or lack of money affects their decision to straighten their teeth. Health issues can also affect the decision to straighten the teeth.

If you feel self-conscious about your crooked teeth, you may want to straighten your teeth, but your imperfect teeth may be a unique feature about you. In some countries, like Japan, many people want slightly crooked canine teeth (yaeba) because they are considered attractive.

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What are my teeth-straightening options?

If you want to straighten your crooked teeth, you have several alternatives to consider. Braces are often a good option for people of any age if the gums and teeth are strong enough to hold the braces.

Braces are particularly good for children because their bone tissues and gums are malleable and flexible.

Treatment can last 2 – 3 years, depending on your braces choice and desired result. Surgery to straighten the teeth is another option, and it takes less time to get your desired result.

Types of braces

  • Metal braces

You can attach fixed metal braces to your teeth with flexible wire, bands and brackets. This option may be better for anyone with a more complex dental alignment issue. Sometimes, wearing headgear with fixed braces is necessary. Headgear is usually worn only at night.

Technological advancements have made metal braces more comfortable than those available several years ago. The braces now have less metal and smaller brackets. They are also more comfortable and come with multi-coloured rubber bands to choose one that suits your personality.

The average cost of metal braces is between £2800 - £6000 depending on the work needed, your location and if dental insurance covers part or the full cost.

  • Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces have tooth-coloured or clear braces and archwire connecting them, so they aren’t as obvious as metal braces. The teeth straightening process is the same as metal braces, but the ceramic brackets are more likely to break and stain.

Ceramic braces cost more, about £2700 - £6300, depending on factors such as insurance coverage, location and extent of work needed.

  • Invisible braces

Invisible braces, like the Invisalign aligners, are almost invisible, but often for only adults and teens. The clear plastic aligners are custom-made for each patient and fit the teeth like a mouth guard.

The aligners are removable and require replacement every two weeks, but this teeth-straightening option may be unsuitable for severe tooth alignment correction. Invisible braces may take longer to straighten the teeth than conventional braces.

Invisible braces cost between £2700 - £6500, depending on your location, the work needed and insurance coverage. Many invisible braces providers allow patients to pay monthly for their treatment.

  • Lingual braces

The side of the teeth close to the tongue is known as the lingual surface. Lingual braces are a type of invisible brace similar to traditional braces, only that the provider attaches them to the back of your teeth.

Lingual braces aren’t suitable for everyone as they are hard to clean and cost between £4000 - £10500. Providers do not usually recommend them for severely crooked or misaligned teeth. They may take a longer time to work, and harder to get used to wearing them.

  • Teeth-straightening surgery

Surgical teeth straightening procedure is another option. It can reduce the duration of wearing braces. The orthodontist may suggest minor surgery to reposition your gums and bones to help hold the teeth in the right positions.

Another surgical procedure is a more involved surgery called orthognathic surgery for realigning the jaw. This surgery may be suitable if the crooked teeth affect chewing ability or speech.

The cost of this treatment will depend on the type of surgery needed, your health insurance and your location.

What should I expect during my dentist or orthodontist visit?

Your dentist may recommend visiting an orthodontist who will examine your mouth, teeth and bite. Your orthodontist will want to know your symptoms, like if you hear a popping sound when closing or opening your mouth and any physical discomfort while chewing or any other time.

You will have an X-ray of your mouth, and the orthodontist will make a mould of your teeth. If wearing braces is necessary, you will have them custom-made and fitted at your next appointment. 

If you want to straighten your crooked teeth, our dental care providers at McKennell Dental Practice can guide you on the right treatment option. Call us today on 020 7834 8802 to book an appointment for your teeth straightening treatment.

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