WHY DO ADULT TEETH come in crooked so often even though baby teeth always seem to be straight? It turns out that a number of different factors can contribute to bad bites and poor alignment in adult teeth, from age to genetics to the daily habits we don’t even think about.
The Soft Foods Theory And Dental Alignment
Experts are still debating the causes of crooked teeth, but archeologists have supplied one of the leading theories: the Soft Foods Theory. Essentially, the idea here is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate foods that were much tougher than what we eat now, which stimulated bone growth in their jaws, giving their teeth a solid foundation to come in straight.
This theory suggests that modern people have crooked teeth more often because our soft, processed food doesn’t encourage as much jaw bone growth and because we’re missing some of the vitamins and minerals that help bones and teeth grow. (Don’t feel too jealous of those strong jaws, though, because the trade off was that their teeth wore out much faster.)
Genetic Ties That Bind
Aside from the theorized effects of soft foods on dental alignment, our teeth are also affected by our genes. A child who inherits a small jaw from Mom and big teeth from Dad is going to have a problem with crowding, and children whose parents wore braces will likely also need them.
Daily Habits Versus Dental Alignment
It would be pretty hard to stick to a hunter-gatherer diet these days and we have no control over our own genes, but there is one factor we can control when it comes to how straight or crooked our teeth are, and that’s daily habits. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, and even the simple action of resting your chin on your hand all contribute to shifting teeth.
Tongue thrusting, if you aren’t familiar, is the way babies swallow — pressing the tongue against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. It’s perfectly normal for them, but we’re supposed to grow out of it. People who continue to tongue thrust after babyhood put a lot of pressure on their front teeth, causing them to shift. Special orthodontic appliances can help break the habit.
Mesial Drift: Dental Alignment Changing As We Age
Our teeth come into contact with each other countless times over decades of chewing and talking, and this can wear away at the sides of each tooth where it touches its neighbors. Teeth end up taking up less space from side to side, and then they scoot closer together, gradually pushing towards the front. This is mesial drift, which happens to most of us as we age, whether or not we’ve had braces in the past!
A Job For The Orthodontist
No matter what’s causing problems with bite or crowding, orthodontic treatment is the solution. If you’re worried about your dental alignment or that of a family member, contact us to set up a consultation so that we can take a look. Having straight teeth isn’t just about appearances; it’s about having healthier teeth that can do their job properly!
We love giving our patients the perfectly aligned smiles they deserve!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Top image by Flickr user aaron.bihari used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.