What are Crooked Teeth?
In dentistry, the term “occlusion” means the contact between the upper and lower teeth. Malocclusion is the bad contact between the upper and lower teeth. Crooked teeth in baby teeth is common. About ninety percent of school-aged children have crooked teeth to some degree.
Types of Crooked Teeth
Teeth can become crooked with certain types of malocclusion, these can include:
- Crowding: The teeth are placed close together and overlap each other. Crowding occurs when the teeth are larger or if the jaw is smaller.
- Spacing: There are large and uneven spaces between the teeth. Spacing is caused by missing teeth, smaller teeth or smaller jaw.
- Rotation: Rotation is when the tooth turns out of its position.
- Transposition: This is when teeth erupt in one another’s place.
Causes of Crooked Teeth
Crooked teeth can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Oral habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, or prolonged use of bottle. These habits cause frequent pressure on teeth and may slowly move the teeth out of place
- Genetic development where there is either too much or too little space in the jaw
- Extra teeth, lost teeth or abnormally shaped teeth
- Poor dental maintenance and dental caries or periapical infection leading to tooth loss which can alter the permanent teeth eruptions
- Irregular jaw size and shape
- Premature loss of teeth
- A severe injury which leads to misalignment of jaws
Signs and symptoms of Crooked Teeth
The signs and symptoms of crooked teeth include:
- Poor cosmetic appearance
- Problems with eating or speaking
- Slurring speech – trouble saying certain words
- Permanent teeth coming in wrong position
- Difficulty in brushing
Diagnosis of Crooked Teeth
A dentist usually checks for malocclusion in children during regular dental visits. Diagnosis is based on the following:
- An oral examination, which is done to determine the placement of teeth, growth asymmetries between teeth and jaws, and contact between the upper and lower teeth
- History of any oral habits
- X-ray of face and teeth
- Photographs of mouth and face to evaluate your profile.
- Teeth impressions which are used to create models of your teeth and mouth for effective treatment planning.
What if Crooked Teeth remain Untreated?
If left untreated, crooked teeth can cause problems with your child’s
- Bite development
- Gums and supporting tissue
- Jaw joint complications,
- Speech development
- Facial appearance and smile
For adults, additional problems beyond those listed for children can include;
- Serious Jaw Bone alignment (TMJ)
- An uneven smile and loss of self confidence
- Bad breath
Treatment Options for Crooked Teeth
The aim of treatment during either childhood and later years is to move permanent teeth into correct position. Malocclusion is treated by managing the growth and correction of dental and facial structures. There are several common orthodontic treatments that include the following:
- Removable Appliances: Here retainers made of plastic and wires are used. These appliances can be inserted and removed by the child.
- Braces: These are appliances that correct dental irregularities and are commonly used in the treatment of malocclusion. These apply constant gentle force to slowly change the position of teeth, straighten them and properly align them with the opposing teeth. The different types of braces include:
- Metal Braces - "traditional braces"
- Self-ligating Braces - "no rubber bands"
- Ceramic Braces -"clear braces"
- Lingual Braces - "invisible braces"
- Clear Braces - “6 months smiles”
- Jaw surgery: In some cases, the child may need jaw surgery to correct the bite problem when the bones of the jaw are involved in the malocclusion problem.
- Teeth Extraction: Removal of some baby teeth to help in severe crowding.
Prevention of Crooked Teeth
Some types of crooked teeth are not preventable, but the following may help prevent the types that are:
- Control of oral habits
- Early detection and treatment