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Crowded teeth

Crowded teeth can affect people of all ages, causing teeth misalignment. This may affect oral health and appearance, so dentists often recommend children undergoing treatment for crowded teeth.

Many adults also get cosmetic dental treatment for crowded or overlapping teeth. These treatments include veneers, Invisalign clear aligners and different types of braces. If you want to fix your crowded teeth, it is important to understand what causes crowded teeth, possible problems from crowded teeth and available treatment options.

The lower and upper teeth may need straightening if crowded, but the treatment is usually simple.

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Causes of crowded and overlapping teeth

People may have crowded teeth for several reasons. The common causes include:

  • Ageing
  • Having extra teeth
  • Palate issues and cleft lip
  • Irregular permanent teeth eruption
  • Thumb and dummy sucking
  • Different sized teeth
  • An underdeveloped jawbone

These issues usually occur in children, but the crowded teeth problem tends to worsen with age. Ageing comes with the face, including the jaw changing constantly. The teeth, particularly the lower teeth, usually move around and gradually get crooked or overlap. This makes many adults want to fix their crowded lower teeth.

However, contrary to common belief, wisdom teeth eruption doesn't cause overcrowding. While third molars can cause many problems, they don't exert enough force to move other teeth out of their positions.

Can crowded teeth cause problems?

Crowded teeth can lead to some problems, but the main issue is difficulty cleaning between the teeth, which causes increased plaque build-up. Other problems from crowded teeth are:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Gum disease or gingivitis
  • Accelerated tooth decay
  • Speech problems
  • Unusual wear patterns on the teeth

Oral hygiene issues, combined with unhappiness because you have crowded teeth, may result in the need to get treatment.

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Is having crowded teeth bad?

Crowded teeth aren't solely a cosmetic issue. They cause issues with oral hygiene and make it more difficult to floss and brush. The result is an easier build-up of tartar, plaque and harmful bacteria in the mouth, which eventually cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Crowded teeth can worsen over time. Although it varies, depending on the case, most cases of crowded teeth worsen with age causing more oral health issues. Poor oral hygiene may also lead to general health complications such as heart disease and weakened immune systems. Straight teeth also help improve self-esteem and appearance

Treatment for crowded teeth

Many options for fixing only upper or bottom crowded teeth or both are available. The right option will depend on the severity of the crowing and your budget.

Braces treatment to correct crowded teeth are available in the public healthcare service for children, provided the crowding is severe and treatment is medically necessary. If the overcrowding is minor, you may consider private treatment.

Since the public healthcare service doesn't offer cosmetic dental treatment, adults usually get this treatment privately. There may be exceptions for severe cases where patients didn't undergo treatment in childhood. Treatment options for adults and children include:

  • Braces

Braces are quite common and the most popular treatment for correcting crowded teeth, especially for the more severe cases where the teeth overlap, but you have different options.

The fixed braces are ceramic or metal brackets bonded to the teeth and connected by a metal wire. They gently apply pressure on the teeth and slowly move them to the right positions. Ceramic braces work and look like metal braces, but they are tooth-coloured or clear, making them less noticeable.

Treatment may also include getting separators between some teeth to create space to fit the braces. Children can only get metal braces in the public healthcare service, while other options are available in private dental practices.

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Can Invisalign fix crowded teeth?

You can fix crowded teeth using Invisalign clear aligners or other invisible braces. The invisible braces system involves a series of clear plastic aligners that you will change every two weeks to move the teeth gradually.

In moderate cases of overcrowding, treatment with invisible braces can take 18 months or longer. Since aligners are clear and custom-made to fit snugly over the teeth, most people do not notice them regardless of how long you wear the aligners. They are effective for about 90% of orthodontic cases, but others may need fixed braces.

  • Retainers

The dentist may recommend retainers to fix your crowded teeth. Fixed (lingual) and removable retainers are available for mild overcrowding.

The benefits of using retainers to correct crowded teeth include:

  • Fewer visits to the dentist
  • Lingual retainers are less conspicuous because they are fitted behind the teeth
  • They are cheaper than braces

You may ask your dentist if a retainer-only treatment is a good option for you or your child.

  • Veneers for crowded teeth

Veneers are a treatment option for crowded teeth if the crowding isn't severe. Before fitting the veneer, your dentist will remove some of the enamel on the existing tooth and then apply the porcelain or composite cover.

Veneers do not actually straighten the teeth but make them look straight by covering the crooked areas. Aesthetically, veneers work well but don't solve the underlying problem of overcrowded teeth. Other teeth may shift out of place from the pressure that moved your other teeth. Veneers are also not a good treatment option for children.

  • Crowns

Fitting crowns may help fix crowded teeth. This requires removing part of the tooth structure and fitting a porcelain or metal cap over the top.

While crowns are effective for making crowded teeth look straight, they are usually not the best option. The crown fitting process requires removing a lot of healthy teeth, and dentists advise against getting crowns only for cosmetic reasons.

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Summary of the treatment options for crowded teeth

Treatment Cost Maintenance Treatment time Results
Fixed metal braces £1500 - £3000 Additional flossing and cleaning during treatment 12 – 24 months, depending on its severity Long-term result but wearing retainers afterwards is necessary
Fixed ceramic braces £2000 - £5500 Additional flossing and cleaning during treatment 12 – 24 months, depending on its severity Long-term result but wearing retainers afterwards is necessary
Clear aligners £1500 - £5500 Daily teeth and aligner cleaning after each removal 6 – 24 months, depending on the severity Long-term result but wearing retainers afterwards is necessary
Veneer per tooth Composite - £100 - £400 Porcelain £400 - £1000 Normal oral hygiene routine 1 – 2 dental visits, depending on its type Cosmetic fix and last 5 – 20 years, depending on the type
Crowns per tooth, depending on the material £250 - £800 Normal oral hygiene routine 1 – 2 dental visits, depending on its type Significant loss of a healthy tooth, and lasts 5 – 15 years
Tooth extraction £52 - £350 After initial healing, no additional care Usually, one dental visit, then in some cases, braces Permanent tooth loss, but more space in the mouth for  braces to move other teeth

Different treatment options for crowded teeth are available at McKennell Dental Practice. You can visit our clinic today or call us on 020 7834 8802 to book an appointment with our dentist for your personalised crowded teeth treatment.

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Frequently asked questions

This depends on your situation. Some people have extra teeth, a condition known as hyperdontia and the extra teeth may need removal. A dentist may want to remove normal teeth and wisdom teeth, to create more space for other teeth' movement.

However, some dentists do not approve of removing healthy teeth. You can always get a second option if your dentist recommends removing one tooth or more for crowded teeth treatment. Another option to create space before fitting braces is filing down the teeth slightly.

Braces attached to the teeth apply pressure on the teeth and pull them into the right position. Invisalign also works similarly, but the main difference is the less visibility of Invisalign aligners, and you can remove them for cleaning and eating. Braces treatment for crowded teeth is between 6 – 24 months.

An upside of Invisalign treatment for crowded teeth is the shorter treatment time. Invisalign can correct mild overcrowding within 6 – 8 months. The severity of overcrowding will determine the treatment's duration.

The choice between braces or clear aligners for treating overcrowding depends on the severity of the condition. If you don't want people to know you are wearing braces, invisible aligners may be the better option, but if your concern is more about cost or you have severely crowded teeth, metal braces may be best.

You cannot treat crowded teeth at home, but you may get an at-home aligner solution if you don't want to visit a dentist for your braces. You will get your aligners by post, making this option ideal and convenient for anyone with a phobia of a dentist's office.

If you are concerned about how your teeth look, you can use the Invisalign SmileView tool, which allows you to preview your new smile within a minute at no cost. You can also ask your dentist for before-and-after pictures of previous patients with crowded teeth. This should give you an idea of how your smile will look.

Your dentist may also provide a computer simulation with before and after views of your crowded teeth. You will get your smile transformation simulation if you want to use Invisalign.

Braces treatment for crowded teeth or other orthodontic problems isn't a permanent fix. Even if you get braces as a teenager, your teeth may gradually become crowded again. This is part of your natural ageing process, similar to the skin developing wrinkles.

However, consult your dentist if you notice changes in your teeth soon after the braces treatment. They may adjust your retainers or recommend further treatment.

Braces are an efficient treatment method for overcrowded teeth, but you do not have to fit metal on your teeth. Clear braces and clear aligners are as effective as metal braces, and the materials used to make them are less noticeable.

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