Crooked Teeth: Causes and Treatment

June 24, 2020

Few people are born with perfectly straight teeth. Even celebrity smiles require a little tune-up to achieve their white, uniform appearance. Most people wish they could change something about their smile, but it’s often hard to tell what you should correct and what’s not worth the cost.

Unfortunately, crooked teeth aren’t just a threat to your vanity. While they can add charm to your smile, misaligned teeth pose a serious risk to your overall health.

Crooked teeth are hard to clean, leaving small crevices for bacteria to grow and spread, ultimately causing tooth decay, gum disease, and premature tooth loss. That’s why it’s important to understand what causes crooked teeth and how to fix them.

What causes crooked teeth?

There are several reasons your teeth can shift and become crooked over time:


Genetics play a major role in the way your teeth look. The size of your teeth, how they fit together, and even the way they grow into the mouth are hereditary traits. Your genetics also determine the size of your mouth.

If you have a naturally smaller mouth, teeth may not have enough room to grow in straight, which results in crowding. Teeth crowding often leads to overlapping, shifting teeth.

Oral Habits

Behaviors and habits established during childhood — even in infancy — can affect your teeth for the rest of your life. Thumb sucking, pacifier use, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing are often what causes teeth to shift. In young and older adults, nail-biting and habitual chewing on objects such as pencils will also impact shifting.

These habits are hard to break, which is why most orthodontists recommend wearing a retainer after getting your braces off to prevent your teeth from shifting again.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Baby teeth help predict how your adult teeth will develop and emerge. If you lose baby teeth too early — due to tooth decay, trauma, or gum disease — your permanent teeth may not grow in as straight as they should.

Keeping your child’s baby teeth clean, healthy, and free of decay can help prevent them from falling out too early.


Severe facial trauma can permanently cause your teeth and jaw to shift out of place. This is especially true if you suffer an illness or injury that results in premature tooth loss. When you lose a tooth, the rest of your teeth shift toward the gap left behind to compensate for the missing tooth. Even a single missing tooth can impact the overall health of your entire mouth.

How can you fix crooked teeth?

Modern dental technology allows orthodontists to create the perfect treatment plan to straighten your smile. Once they determine exactly what’s causing your crooked teeth — be it a spacing issue, oral habits or a misaligned jaw — your orthodontist can recommend treatments such as braces, clear aligners, a retainer, or even oral surgery.

While you can seek orthodontic therapy at any age, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation between the ages of 7 and 8 to identify early signs of trouble.

Early intervention during childhood and adolescence helps you achieve the best results at the lowest cost to you and your family. It also ensures later overall oral health, proper function, and better well-being.

For more information on fixing crooked teeth, sign up for MySmile® to check your benefits. Need coverage? Click the link below to find a plan that works to give you the smile you deserve!

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