What are crooked teeth?
Crooked teeth are misaligned teeth that can sometimes pose a threat to your dental health. Common problems include aesthetics, lowering your self-esteem, an abnormal bite and difficulty cleaning which can make you really prone to dental problems such as plaque and gingivitis, even tooth decay.
Why do I have crooked teeth?
There are a lot of reasons why people have crooked teeth. One of the most common reasons is that the mouth or more specifically the jaws are too small for the teeth. This can affect the teeth’s growth, causing them to crowd and shift, especially in children. There are also instances wherein the upper jaw is either bigger or smaller than the lower jaw. If the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw, this can lead to an overbite. On the other hand, if the lower jaw protrudes further forward than the upper jaw, this is called an underbite. This underbite trait tends to be more common in Asia. Another cause of crooked teeth is tooth loss. As you lose a tooth, the adjacent teeth often shift and move as they are no longer in balance. They can lean in towards the gap made by the missing tooth, or the opposing teeth can over erupt either way, leading to more crooked teeth. Medical conditions such as cleft palate often coincide with crooked teeth. Most of the time, crooked teeth are simply a result of genetics. Other times, crooked teeth are caused by gum disease that allows the teeth to drift, constant pressure on the teeth and gums (especially grinding and clenching), not wearing retention after orthodontic treatment and prolonged bottle or thumb sucking in children. As we age, there is also a natural tendency for the teeth to drift and crowd forwards slightly.
How do I know if I have crooked teeth?
Crooked teeth are easily noticeable at the front of your mouth and a little less noticeable at the back. It is slightly subjective and some people will consider even slightly misaligned teeth to be crooked, others only if they are considerably crowded.
What happens when I go to the dentist?
Your Maroubra dentist will first ask for your dental and medical history, then proceed to examining your teeth, mouth and gums. X-rays are likely to be needed to help assess your case fully and determine the best course of treatment or at least the options that are available for you to consider. There will be a full discussion of your expectations and the way you want to proceed. X-rays will show your teeth’s relationship, both to surrounding teeth and opposing teeth but also to the jaws. They are useful both during development, if crowding occurs early to assess un-erupted teeth, and wisdom teeth and when all adult teeth are present. Different views are required if you are going to treat the problem with braces or by restorative work. Photographs of your face may also be taken, as well as impressions of your teeth to help your dentist assess your case further.
What treatments can I have to fix my crooked teeth?
Crooked teeth are often best fixed by orthodontic treatment. This allows you to keep your natural teeth. We refer to some excellent orthodontists in Maroubra if this is what you would like to do and they will discuss the various options that are available for your case and the pros and cons. This may be:
- Removable appliances and expanders
- Traditional braces (train tracks)
- Lingual braces (on the back of teeth)
- Invisible braces
- Tooth removal for overcrowded teeth
- Orthagnathic surgery (jaw surgery for more severe cases not corrected by braces alone)
Depending on the case it may be that a restorative approach is the most appropriate. This tends to be for more minor teeth misalignment and where problems are also with the shape and colour of teeth as these can be changed with a combination of one or more of the following:
- Cosmetic bonding
It is important to discuss each treatment with your dentist so you can both decide which will be best option for you. Remember, there are always advantages and disadvantages to everything. Orthodontic treatment tends to take time – an average course is 18 months, restorative treatment is faster but when you head down that route you are making changes to natural teeth that will always then require up keep and likely need some replacement down the track.