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Why do I have crooked teeth?

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Why do I have crooked teeth?

What are the common causes of crooked teeth?

Crooked teeth, or more correctly known as malocclusion, can be caused by a number of things. Crooked teeth can be an inherited trait. Parents with crooked teeth are more likely to have children with irregularly aligned teeth.


Mismatched teeth and jaw sizes

Specialists in Orthodontics. Common Causes of crooked teeth
Crooked or crowded teeth, is usually a result of discrepancy between jaw size and size of teeth. For example, some people have smaller jaw size or wide teeth. As a result, some teeth are pushed out of alignment. When there is severe lack of space in the jaw, one or more teeth may become impacted, i.e. unable to erupt into the mouth. Gaps between teeth may be due to small teeth or wide jaws, or a combination of both.

Mismatched upper and lower jaw sizes

Mismatched jaw sizes may also cause crooked teeth or poor bite. Some common examples of mismatched jaw sizes are:

  • Small lower jaw gives an appearance of retrusive chin, and buck teeth
  • Large lower jaw – gives an appearance of strong and protrusive chin, and underbite
  • Narrow upper jaw – crossbite on the side teeth, gives an appearance of narrow smile


Disturbances of dental development

Disturbances of dental development may contribute to crooked teeth. The following are some common examples of disturbances to dental development that could potentially affect alignment of teeth.

Missing Teeth

Some people are born with less than normal amount of teeth. This may result in gaps forming between teeth, adjacent teeth drifting into the space, shifted dental middle line etc.

Displaced Tooth Buds

When a tooth bud did not develop in a normal position, it may overlap on other teeth, push other teeth out of alignment, or become impacted.

Extra tooth/teeth

An extra tooth is correctly known as a supernumerary tooth. Presence of an additional tooth may prevent your normal tooth/teeth to come through. Sometimes, the extra tooth may ‘squeeze’ in between the normal teeth pushing the normal teeth out of alignment.

Early loss of baby teeth

If a baby tooth is lost too early, adjacent adult teeth may drift into the space of the missing baby tooth. As a result, space for the eruption of adult tooth may be lost.

Prolonged retention of baby teeth

Sometimes, baby teeth may become fused to the jaw bone, a phenomenon known as ‘ankylosis’. Most of the time, these teeth do not fall out by themselves. If left unmanaged, the adjacent adult teeth may outgrow the ankylosed baby tooth, and tip over onto the ankylosed tooth. Retained baby teeth may also prevent proper eruption of adult teeth.

Irregularly shaped teeth

Abnormally small sized teeth may result in dental spacing. Similarly, abnormally large sized teeth may cause dental crowding.



Certain habits have been shown to cause crooked teeth. One common habit that can potentially affect dental development is thumb sucking. Habitual thumb sucking may result in flared upper front teeth (buck teeth), narrow upper jaw (crossbite) and lack of contact between upper and lower front teeth (open bite). Prolonged use of pacifiers in children may also cause similar dental problems.

The list for the cause of crooked teeth can be very long. Often times, crooked teeth is a result of a combination of any of the factors listed above. An accurate diagnosis of your bite by an orthodontist is critical for the orthodontist to design a proper treatment plan.


What happens if my crooked teeth are left untreated?

If left untreated, crooked teeth may potentially lead to poor function, difficulty cleaning, uneven or excessive tooth wear, difficulty in placement of dental prosthesis, increased risk of dental injury and low self-esteem.


If you like to learn more about different types of malocclusion, please visit COMMON ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS

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