November 19, 2019 Ann Le Are you concerned about your teeth? Do you have an overbite or underbite and want to know how to fix it? Tired of hiding that gap during photos? Modern dental methods for correcting crooked teeth are much more attainable than ever before. In most cases, these treatments are both affordable and painless, depending on the severity of the issue and the amount of correction work required to fix the problem. No matter what your situation, our team at Bunker Hill Dentistry can help. Here’s what you need to know about crooked teeth and the various types of treatment options available. What Are Crooked Teeth? The technical term for crooked teeth is called malocclusion. Occlusion pertains to the contact relationship between upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed. There are four different classes of occlusion: Normal Occlusion: This is where the upper and lower molars come together normally, indicating that the teeth are not crooked. Class 1 Malocclusion: In this case, the upper and bottom teeth come together normally, but there are other issues such as teeth crowding, irregularities, or rotation. Class 2 Malocclusion: Here is where an overbite is typically present where the upper teeth and jaw significantly overlap the bottom teeth and jaw. Small overlapping is normal. Class 3 Malocclusion: This is typically referred to as an underbite. It is where the lower teeth and jaw significantly overlap the upper teeth and jaw. Estimates place around five to ten percent of malocclusion sufferers are diagnosed with class 3. In addition, there are other instances that are also considered as having crooked teeth. A crossbite is pronounced any time the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, on one or both sides and can affect front or back teeth. Caused by childhood thumb-sucking, an open bite is when a gap remains between the upper and lower front teeth while the back teeth make contact when biting. Overcrowding is when there isn’t enough space in the jaw for teeth to remain in the proper position, causing rotation or an overlap. And, finally, there’s diastema, which is commonly referred to as a gap in the teeth. Cases of crooked teeth can range in severity from a minor inconvenience to a severe dental complication. That’s why it is important to talk to a dentist about your particular situation. Class 2 malocclusion with overbite. Why Are Some Teeth Crooked? There are a variety of reasons why teeth become crooked. This can happen during childhood or later on in life, meaning that just because baby teeth appear crooked does not indicate permanent teeth will have the same fate. A few of the most common reasons for crooked teeth include: Jaw Size: This is one common reason for crowded and crooked teeth. Simply put, if there isn’t enough space in the jaw for the teeth, they can start to rotate or slant to try and find room. Poor Habits: The most widely reported habits that cause crooked teeth are usually seen in children. These include thumb sucking, pacifier use, bottle use, and tongue thrusting. Misaligned Jaw (Malocclusion): There are two reasons why a misaligned jaw can occur. The first is genetics; how you are born is typically the way things are. The second is those poor myofunctional habits mentioned in the previous bullet point. Genetics: If your parents had crooked teeth, there is a higher chance you will have the same. Poor Dental Care Schedule: Not having your dental health checked regularly may lead to cavities and other issues. When untreated, this can lead to damaged or crooked teeth. Facial Injury: This one is a lot less common, but it still can occur. Injuries due to sports or accidents may also knock loose or move teeth from their original place. Many of the reasons that cause crooked teeth in children can be corrected into adulthood, preventing the same problems with permanent teeth. Think of all the kids in your middle school who wore braces! Negative Consequences of Crooked Teeth Few people realize the negative consequences associated with crooked teeth go far beyond looking good when you smile in photos. The truth is that this issue can cause bigger dental problems down the road if left untreated. For example, crooked teeth can lead to periodontal disease. This is because it can be difficult to clean between overlapping or rotated teeth or reach certain areas during routine care. In the long run, this can lead to gum disease or a serious infection. Other potential complications include digestion issues due to lack of proper chewing, speech difficulties, and excess wear. And, of course, many people have self-esteem and self-confidence issues tied to a poor smile that makes it difficult for them to show off those pearly whites in family photos. This state of unhappiness alone is a common reason why many people opt for treatment. Did you know 50% of Americans report at least a few crooked teeth? What’s a healthy, beautiful smile worth to you? pic.twitter.com/IZqefB7vb3 — AAO (@AAOrtho) June 21, 2016 Treatment Options for Crooked Teeth Thankfully, there is a multitude of different treatment options available for correcting crooked teeth and improving your smile. The most common methods include: Metal Braces: These are the braces you’ve seen since childhood. Small metal brackets are attached to the teeth and small wires are strung between them to push or pull your teeth to correct positions. Ceramic or Lingual Braces: Similar to metal braces, these options achieve the same effect but without the showing of the wires and metal brackets. Invisalign Aligners: This system features a set of aligner trays designed to utilize the same concept of traditional braces. However, unlike metal brackets, the trays are removable when needed. Plus, research has shown this type of aligner is just as effective with far less hassle. Headgear: This method features a special piece of equipment that is attached inside the mouth, but uses the outside of your head to move your teeth. It is often used in conjunction with metal braces, but can be removed and worn as needed. Retainers: Best for use after regular braces or aligners, retainers help keep teeth in place if they only need a little correction. Surgical Procedures: For extreme cases involving crooked teeth, it might be necessary to perform surgery. In many cases, this means surgically removing the tooth or breaking the jaw to align the tooth. This is usually the most painful option and is rarely recommended. However, it does yield results much more quickly than other options. Veneers: Cosmetic dentistry can also help cover up crooked teeth in minor cases. These are porcelain covers mounted directly on the teeth and then shaped to create a perfect smile. Bonding: If you have a very minor gap, you might be an ideal candidate for bonding. In this treatment, a special composite resin is applied to the teeth and then shaped. This is a great way to hide slightly annoying spacing or other small issues. For treatment options, treatment times, and effectiveness, for crooked teeth and other common dental complaints, see our helpful table – dental problems and their solutions. Conclusion If you’re like the millions of people who suffer from crooked teeth, it is important to understand that you’re not alone and that the issue is extremely common. Thankfully, there is a wide range of treatment options available to help you achieve that perfect smile you’ve always wanted. Ready to learn more? Please contact our friendly and knowledgeable team at Bunker Hill Dentistry today to schedule your appointment. Ann LeAnn Le has been successfully managing dental practices since 1990. She is currently Practice Manager at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston, TX which she runs with her husband Dr. Tri M Le.