• Francine J

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

According to the latest dental reports, every 9 in 10 Americans have a case of crooked teeth. The numbers are high, but that doesn’t make the condition of your smile any less of a health hazard.

Crooked teeth are notorious for promoting cavities, gum inflammation, and speech difficulties. That’s why it’s crucial to have your misalignment corrected. But did you know that the cause of your crooked teeth could affect the success of your treatment?

In this article, we’ll discuss the top reasons behind dental misalignments: how they affect your corrective treatment and what you can do to prevent them from altering your smile.

Top 7 Causes of Crooked Teeth


Your ancestry is probably the most interesting contributor to dental misalignment. Anthropologists believe that the first group of humans had straight teeth, but the misalignment developed as their lifestyle changed.

According to a 2011 study, people with predominantly soft diets are more likely to develop shortened jaws. Smaller jaws leave less room for teeth to position themselves. This causes misalignment.

Children tend to inherit similar jaw structures to their parents. If your family has generally small jaws, you may also share a history of crooked teeth.

However, every child inherits unique traits from their parents. So it doesn’t mean that you and all your siblings will have dental issues. On the other hand, some cases are more obvious than others, based on whether their misalignment is more severe towards the front or back of their jaw.

Premature Tooth Loss

Children will start dropping their baby teeth by the time they’re 6 years old. But it’s not uncommon for them to lose a couple of their milk teeth as a toddler.

When a child loses their teeth prematurely, other teeth may move around to fill the gap, and this could cause overcrowding. Generally, it’s easier to correct these misalignments as an adolescent. It’s not that adults can’t straighten their teeth --- it’s possible. But it may take longer to reposition teeth that have already settled into a mature jaw bone.

Facial Injuries

Vehicle accidents, sports injuries, or just falling head-first could traumatize your jaw can displace your teeth. Many patients who schedule emergency visits with their dentist could have their teeth restabilized with a splint.

However, severe accidents could also cause tooth loss or significant changes in alignment. These will need a more long-term treatment plan to correct.

Thumb Sucking

It’s typical for children who suck their thumbs to have crooked teeth. Sometimes, they develop the habit after being taken off their pacifier. In such a case, the thumb substitutes for their comfort object as a baby.

Thumb sucking applies constant pressure on your front teeth and pushes them forward over time. Other children may have a habit of sucking their tongues, which has the same effect as using a thumb.

It would be wise to try to break your child’s habit as a toddler or before their permanent teeth start erupting. Otherwise, there’s a high chance they’ll develop protruding incisors.

Tongue Thrusting

Ideally, your tongue should rest against the center of your palate when you close your mouth. But, instead, many of our patients press their tongues against the back of their front teeth. Over time, it becomes automatic.

Similar to thumb sucking, the force of your tongue pushes your incisors outward and causes you to develop ‘buck teeth.’ This can be counterintuitive with orthodontic treatment. While the treatment may successfully straighten your teeth, your tongue will likely push them back out of position.

As a result, orthodontists usually recommend that patients complete at least a month of what we call ‘tongue therapy.’ Here’s how it works:

  1. Consciously place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

  2. Close your mouth, then swallow while maintaining your tongue in that position.

  3. Try to keep your tongue against your palate at all times, especially when swallowing.

The therapy retrains your tongue muscles to maintain a normal resting position. Your tongue should stop working against you after a few rounds of practice.

Mouth Breathing

Do you find it hard to keep your tongue inside with an open mouth? Well, imagine how more challenging that could be while you sleep.

Mouth breathers are prone to developing crooked teeth because their tongue constantly pushes against their incisors. It’s even worse during bedtime.

Patients with allergies like hay fever (rhinitis) are also likely to have misaligned teeth. The chronic nasal congestion forces them to breathe through their mouth. Ultimately, they’re trading their oral health for a free airway -- that’s a tough call.

Poor Nutrition

Without sufficient nourishment, your body won’t support healthy bone growth and tooth development. Malnourished patients - especially those with Calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies - are very likely to have crooked teeth.

Investing in a balanced diet could improve your odds drastically.

How to Fix Crooked Teeth

You may be considering realignment if you have crooked teeth. You have the option to choose between wearing metallic braces or invisible aligners, though they each have their pros and cons.

At Straight Teeth Invisible, we take pleasure in guiding you through the selection process. Our team of orthodontists has restored thousands of smiles over the last decade. And we’d love to help you feel more confident with yours.

Schedule an e-consult with one of our orthodontic specialists today. We’ll evaluate your case and redirect you to the best treatment option for your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are crooked teeth unhealthy?

Yes. 90% of Americans have crooked teeth but don’t realize that they could cause repeat dental issues. Crooked teeth often aggravate problems with proper chewing, bad breath, gum disease (gingivitis), tooth decay, and tooth loss.

What causes crooked front teeth?

Protruding incisors, or ‘buck teeth’, form when your teeth are constantly pushed or pulled outwards. Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing are common culprits.

What causes crooked teeth in adults?

Most adults carry crooked teeth from their childhood. Some choose to straighten their smiles as adults when they can afford a treatment plan.

Adults may also require orthodontic treatment if they suffered facial trauma in an accident.

What causes baby teeth to come in crooked?

Babies’ jaws are still developing, so it’s not unusual for them to have crooked milk teeth. This could happen if the child has large teeth but a small jaw (at that stage in their life). It’s not a cause for concern.