Crooked Teeth

Why Do We Get Crooked Teeth?

August 18th, 2020


IT’S NOT ALWAYS fair or logical, but we get judged on our appearance all the time, and having crooked or straight teeth is a big factor in that. Studies show that people with straight teeth are perceived to be more successful, smarter, and more likely to get dates than those with crooked teeth. But why do crooked teeth happen in the first place?

The Impact of Diet on Dental Alignment

It still isn’t entirely clear what causes teeth to grow in crooked, but one of the current leading theories is called the Soft Foods Theory. The basic idea is that we eat much softer foods than our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, so we aren’t stimulating as much bone growth in our jaws when we chew our food, which leaves our teeth with insufficient space to grow in straight. We also might be getting fewer of the vitamins and minerals that help teeth and bones grow.

That doesn’t mean you should change to a hunter-gatherer diet; the downside of having to chew so much more is that the teeth are subject to a significant amount of additional wear and tear. Personally, we think needing a little orthodontic treatment is a much better deal than an increased risk of wearing out our teeth.

The Impact of Genes

Another contributing cause of crooked teeth is our genes. If you inherit a small jaw from your mother and large teeth from your father, they probably won’t fit together very neatly. Children of parents who had braces are also more likely to need them, but that could be at least partly because parents who had braces know the benefits of having straight teeth better than other parents who didn’t!

Daily Habits Have a Real Impact on Teeth

We can’t control what genes we get and a hunter-gatherer diet doesn’t sound very fun, but there’s another factor that absolutely impacts dental alignment, and that’s daily habits. The good news is that this is one factor we can control. Some of the habits that can seriously affect a dental arch are thumb sucking or pacifier use beyond age four, habitual mouth breathing, a tongue-thrust reflex, and even simply resting your chin on your hand a lot!

Teeth Continue to Shift as We Get Older

Even someone who had straight teeth as a kid or who got them thanks to orthodontic treatment can still have their teeth shift as they age. This is called mesial drift. Over decades of chewing and talking, our teeth rub against each other countless times, which can gradually wear away at the sides of each tooth, making them a tiny bit narrower. When this happens, they can scoot closer together and gradually push towards the front of the mouth, which is why older adults sometimes need braces too! This can be prevented by following your orthodontist's instructions and always wearing your retainer - it's a lifelong commitment!

Bring Any Alignment Issues to the Orthodontist!

Whether you have crowding issues because of genes, habits, or a lifetime of eating processed foods, the orthodontist can help you get the smile you deserve. Give us a call to set up a consultation so we can start developing your unique treatment plan!

We can’t wait to see your braces before and after pictures!

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 used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Making Room For Your Gorgeous New Smile

January 7th, 2020

Teeth Crowding

One of the most common issues orthodontic treatment addresses is crowding—when there is not enough space for all the teeth to fit normally, causing them to twist and turn.

Often, braces are enough to rearrange teeth into a healthy dental arch, but in some cases, extra space needs to be gained to properly align everything.

Slenderizing Teeth

When a minimal amount of space is needed, your orthodontist can actually slenderize some of your teeth to help create a little extra space. This is called "interproximal reduction", which is really just a fancy term for sanding in between your teeth. But don't worry! Your teeth won't get noticeably smaller - only 0.25 to 0.75 millimeters of enamel is removed from either side of any tooth as we need to make sure to leave plenty of healthy enamel behind!

Jaw Expansion/Arch Expansion

In some cases, the upper jaw bone itself is too small to fit the top teeth and to fit around the lower jaw. An expander is required in those cases, and will actually make the upper jaw bone larger. This is a treatment that can typically only be performed in growing children/adolescents, however.

Another type of expansion can be done with just the brackets and wires. By reshaping the dental arch and widening it, we can gain a few millimeters of space, which helps us to fit in more of your teeth! While this is an awesome option, there is a limit, as we cannot push the teeth beyond where the gum and bone are to support them.

Some Teeth Just Don’t Fit

 In cases of extreme dental crowding, extractions are often the best option for beginning to align your teeth. Removing teeth can also be key in solving underbite, overbite, and problems with protrusive teeth. Every person is unique when it comes to extractions - some people need one tooth removed, others need two, or even four!

When performed by an experienced specialist, removing a tooth is simple and pain free. If you have any questions about the process, please talk to us!

Making Room For Your Perfect Smile

We understand that the decision to extract a tooth is not one to be taken lightly. We carefully examine dental models, x-rays, photos, and jaw structure to determine the best way to create your beautiful new smile. By considering all treatment options, we find the one that will most efficiently give you the best results in the safest and healthiest way possible.

We treasure the trust you have placed in us as your orthodontic specialists. Thank you for being our valued patient and friend!

(Image by Flickr user Ben Tesch used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.)

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

September 24th, 2019

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.

Why Do We Get Crooked Teeth?

December 20th, 2017

IF BABY TEETH almost always grow in straight, then why are adult teeth so often crooked? What is it, if not just bad luck? There are competing theories, but adult teeth can come in crooked for a variety of reasons, from genetics to diet to daily habits.

Shifts In Society’s Diet…And Its Teeth?

One popular theory that comes from archeological studies is the Soft Foods Theory. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate much tougher foods than we do now, and this promoted more bone growth in the jaws and better-aligned teeth as a result. The theory suggests two possible reasons why modern people more often have crooked teeth:

  1. Modern food is processed and soft, so it doesn’t stimulate as much jaw bone growth.
  2. Modern food lacks many of the vitamins and minerals a hunter/gatherer diet would have been rich in, so the teeth and jaws can’t develop as much.

For more details on the Soft Foods Theory, check out this short video:

Braces Run In The Family

Even if you managed to eat tough foods for long enough to grow the jaw bones of a hunter/gatherer, you still wouldn’t be able to control what genes you inherited from your parents. If your parents didn’t need braces but you got Mom’s small jaw and Dad’s large teeth, you’ll end up with a crowding problem. Many children whose parents needed braces will also need braces.

Daily Habits Can Shift Your Teeth

While we have no say in our genes and would probably have a difficult time successfully sticking to a hunter/gatherer diet, the one cause of crooked teeth we might be able to control is our everyday habits. Something as simple as resting your chin on your hands can cause your teeth to shift over time, but these are the main offenders:

Thumb-sucking, when it continues past toddlerhood, can cause the upper teeth to flare out and shift the lower teeth inward, creating a badly misaligned bite, changing the shape of the jaw, and even affecting speech. If you’re looking for ways to discourage your child’s thumb-sucking habit, check out this resource.

Mouth-breathing, particularly during developmental years, can lead to dental crowding over time. Normally, when the mouth is closed, the tongue exerts pressure against the sides of the jaw, helping it develop in a healthy, wide shape. If the mouth is always open for breathing, this pressure isn’t there, and the jaw narrows, crowding the teeth.

Tongue-thrusting is the name of an incorrect or immature way of swallowing in which the tongue presses against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. Babies naturally start out with this reflex, but it doesn’t always go away when it should, leading to dental alignment problems. This can be a difficult reflex to unlearn as a teen or adult, but there are special orthodontic appliances designed to encourage better swallowing habits.

Whatever The Cause, We’re The Solution!

Whether teeth teeth are crooked due to genetics, a modern diet, or these kinds of unhealthy habits during childhood, the solution is the same: orthodontic treatment. If you haven’t already, schedule a consultation with us so that we can make a plan for getting you the perfectly aligned smile you deserve!

Thank you for trusting us with your teeth! We love helping you look your best!

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 used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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