Crooked Teeth in Adults

Having crooked teeth as an adult can be a confidence-zapping issue. Whether you had your teeth treated in your youth or have always been bothered by it, many people feel as though their smile is getting in the way. However, despite what social media might have you believe, crooked teeth are still quite common.

The bad news is, if left untreated, crooked teeth are likely to get worse because even in adults, teeth and jaws are constantly changing. The good news is, they are treatable. Depending on the extent of treatment required, you could be looking in the mirror at a perfect smile in anywhere from 12 – 24 months.

What causes crooked teeth in adults?

There are a number of factors that can cause crooked teeth in adults, from genetics to long-term misalignment and even injury. Factors that cause crooked teeth can include:

  • Baby teeth coming in crooked
  • Overcrowding of the mouth during childhood
  • The size of your jaw (Fun fact: evolutionarily speaking, our jaws have become smaller due to our reliance on softer foods than our forebears)
  • Poor myofunctional habits such as thumb-sucking, dummy use, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing
  • Malocclusions (teeth and jaw misalignments) that have grown worse over time, creating further crookedness, as existing crooked teeth move and change
  • Facial injuries such as knocks to the head or face, which may or may not have resulted in tooth loss
  • Poor nutrition and dental care can also lead to decay, causing gum disease, cavities, and teeth movement, which can cause crooked changes

Do crooked teeth get worse with age?

Just like the rest of our body, our teeth and bite will change as we age. In fact, your teeth are never really set in stone and will naturally shift over time – which is the reason most orthodontists will encourage you to regularly wear your retainer for as long as possible after your treatment has finished. There are a number of factors that influence how much and how quickly age-related dental changes develop, but it is inevitable that some change will occur. This may be due to injury, decay, or even existing conditions.

What this means is most of us, regardless of whether we have had orthodontic treatment when we were younger, will probably find that our front teeth will become crooked to some degree as we get older. Once your lower front teeth “slip” past each other the amount of crowding tends to worsen more quickly and then you are also likely to notice changes in the position of the opposing top teeth as well. Problems like gum recession and gum damage can occur over time if crooked teeth are left untreated. This can lead to a wide variety of factors, from further misalignments to gum disease and bad breath.

Do crooked teeth affect speech?

Crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic problem. Teeth are a vital element to speech and articulation. Crooked teeth can form lisps or whistling while speaking. For example, when overcrowding occurs, pronunciation becomes difficult as the tongue can’t move freely in the mouth. Likewise, gapped teeth create whistling and open bites cause a lisp from not being able to control the airflow in the mouth. As an adult, these issues are likely to take years to become evident but will continue to worsen.

Other crooked teeth problems

Teeth can be crooked in a number of ways and to varying degrees. But even mild crookedness can start problems that can escalate. Some of these problems can include:

  • It’s more difficult to keep your teeth clean. Because of obscured and overlapping teeth, it can be difficult to keep teeth clean. Plaque build-up in teeth can cause bacteria to multiply, and if left unchecked, can damage teeth.
  • Higher possibility of gum disease. Crooked teeth and the difficulty experienced while cleaning them, can lead to the build-up of harmful bacteria and eventually, gum disease.
  • Excessive teeth wear. Crooked teeth wear unevenly and will wear faster in certain spots where they cross andmeet with other teeth.
  • Bad breath. Bad breath can be common with crooked teeth, as crooked teeth are much harder to clean, allowing them to host bacteria.

Straightening options for adults with crooked teeth

While the best form of treatment will depend on your unique circumstances, there are now a lot of different options available for adults seeking treatment, including:

  1. Ceramic braces. Ceramic braces are the perfect approach for those looking for not only top-line orthodontic care, but a subtle way to straighten teeth. Though they work the same as metal braces, the brackets are tooth coloured, making them less visible.
  2. Lingual braces. Lingual braces are practically invisible. Sitting on the back of the tooth rather than the front, lingual braces work in much the same way as standard braces but cannot be seen. However, as they sit closer to the tongue, lingual braces take a bit more getting used to—both in terms of eating and speech.
  3. Clear aligners. Clear aligners are thin, moulded plastic that fits accurately to your teeth. Although this is something to consider, as they won’t work if the aligner is removed too often.
  4. Metal braces. Metal braces are the traditional sort of braces, and now are a cost-effective way for children and adults to receive less costly orthodontic care. The work inthe same way as ceramic and lingual braces, and the treatment time should be much the same. Though modern metal braces aren’t the same as they used to be,the brackets are smaller and are often still one of the best solutions for your smile.

Can you straighten only one crooked tooth?

Even if it is just one tooth, it’s still well worth straightening. Even one crooked tooth can lead to a range of problems down the line (not to mention, can lead to more crooked teeth or jaw problems). And there are two main options available for straightening that one rogue tooth:

  • Plate. A plate is a way to straighten a less severe crooked tooth without going through the entire braces procedure. Clear aligners are popular for this reason. Though again, it should be noted that the wearer must make sure they don’t take it out too often, or its effectiveness will be compromised.
  • Braces. Though it is just one tooth, it’s movement may cause more movement in the mouth, and if this is deemed likely by your orthodontist, braces may still be the way to fix it. Braces though temporarily inconvenient,offer a long-term or permanent solution to misalignment, whether one tooth or multiple.

The best way to understand how your smile can become its best is to make an appointment with an orthodontist. You can search for a registered specialist orthodontist near you using our Finder Tool.

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