What Causes Crooked Teeth?

August 21, 2015

In a world where people are overwhelmed with advertisements showing person after person with a perfect, fully aligned smile, it’s easy to think that not having those straight teeth naturally means there’s something wrong with you.

It’s important to know that having crooked teeth doesn’t make you abnormal. As a matter of fact, it’s rare that someone will have perfectly straight teeth all his/her life without needing any orthodontic treatment at all. Getting braces and receiving care for crowding and jaw problems is perfectly normal.

So if there is nothing wrong? What causes crooked teeth?

  • Hereditary

Many people have as much control over how their teeth develop as they have over the color of their hair and eyes. The traits that contribute to crowding of teeth and jaw misalignment are often inherited from one’s parents. Many, many people inherit these traits. Like the large number of people who need glasses or similar help with bad vision.

  • Infancy Habits

Habits formed during infancy create a ripple effect that –while not apparent at the time –become noticeable years down the road. Infants that repeatedly suck their thumb or place their fingers and pacifier in their mouths often develop crooked teeth as they grow older.

  • Child and Adult Habits

Many habits (mostly unconscious) contribute to a steady misalignment of the jaw and crowding of the teeth: breathing through the mouth, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and continued sucking of the thumb all being examples. These are known as myofunctional habits, and most people will develop at least one of them during their lifetime. This is why orthodontists will often add a retainer after the patient is done with braces for keeping teeth aligned despite habits that are incredibly difficult to kick.

  • Injury and Illness

In the tragic event of losing teeth or shifting jaw due to injury or illness, the teeth will often slowly shift to make up for the lost space. Getting orthodontic treatment from these events are especially important since the body compensates from harm much more quickly than the slow change over time that happens from genes or habits.

While orthodontists are undecided as to whether or not nature or nurture have a greater influence over crooked teeth, you should know that it’s only fairly recently that bad habits were found to be a major factor. So until society makes these habits and their effects common knowledge, you basically have the same amount of control over not developing these habits at a young age as you do the color of your eyes.

So we’ll say again: there is nothing wrong with you.

Whether you’re a parent looking to make a consultation appointment for their child or an adult who didn’t have the opportunity to receive treatment when they were young, chances are very high that all of those actors and models portrayed on the screen received orthodontic treatment as well. The question for you (and your child) isn’t what’s wrong –it’s if it’s time to get the care that is medically and cosmetically normal and healthy?


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