When most people think about a straight smile they’re usually only considering the top teeth. After all, these are generally the teeth that are seen the most when we smile. So if you have crooked bottom teeth and relatively straight top teeth that look OK, should you consider orthodontic treatment?
If you are concerned about the appearance of your crooked bottom teeth, have noticed uneven wear of the lower front teeth or are experiencing difficulty keeping these teeth clean and keeping the gums healthy because of crowding or irregularity, orthodontic treatment is the best solution.
Orthodontists can provide you with a wide range of treatment options that can be tailored to meet your needs. For example, if your bite is good, and yet you have crooked lower front teeth, then you may only need limited treatment focussed purely on the correction of the lower front teeth and nothing else. However, if your bite also needs to be corrected (as is often the case) then a more comprehensive treatment plan involving both upper and lower teeth will be needed.
If you’re considering orthodontic treatment to correct your bottom teeth, there are a couple of questions you may want answers to.
- Childhood habits like thumb sucking
- Overcrowding in the mouth
- Accidents and injury
Generally, if your top teeth appear straight and your bottom teeth are crooked, this is the result of overcrowding or may be the result of wisdom teeth developing unevenly if it is a new issue.
Depending on the alignment of your bite and whether you have an overbite, you may not be able to notice if your bottom teeth are crooked. While the aesthetic appearance of your smile may be your main concern, it’s important to note that this will not be the only factor to be considered by an orthodontist. Your bottom teeth may, in turn, push your top teeth out of alignment, leading to a crooked smile further down the track. They may also be forcing your jaw out of alignment, which can affect the health and quality of your bite or may lead to uneven wearing of the teeth.
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. 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 lower 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.
The types of treatment available to straighten your front teeth are the same regardless of whether you want them on the top, bottom or both. Lingual (inside) braces or clear aligner treatment such as Invisalign®, Spark® and 3M Clarity may be a good option in some cases, particularly if your main concern is aesthetics as they are virtually invisible. The best way to discover which treatment will be most suitable for your case and budget is to consult a specialist orthodontist.
The fact is, whether your crooked bottom teeth actually need to be fixed will depend on a number of factors including the type of malocclusion, how they are shifting naturally as you age and whether you’re experiencing any other issues with your bite that may need to be addressed. However, depending on your individual case there may be a number of different orthodontic treatment options that would be suitable to correct any crooked bottom teeth. Many people find that lingual (or inside) braces are a great solution when you’re only correcting your bottom teeth. This is because they are practically invisible and with a few simple care and lifestyle tweaks, can allow you to continue with life as normal as your teeth are straightened.
Whether clear aligner treatments like Invisalign®, Spark® and 3M Clarity are suitable for correcting your bottom teeth only would depend on the type of malocclusion that needs to be treated. This form of treatment is generally only suited to minor cases or less complex tooth movements, so it is important that you always consult a specialist orthodontist prior to commencing any form of orthodontic treatment. Only an in-person consultation will allow a specialist to review records including x-rays or digital scans to assess the health of your teeth and your viability for this type of treatment. An orthodontist will also make sure you are fully informed about your other options and will let you know which will be the best for straightening your teeth.
If you already underwent orthodontic treatment, either as a teenager or more recently, and have found that your bottom teeth are now crooked it may be worth consulting a specialist orthodontist for a solution. While teeth do naturally shift over time, if you’re wearing your retainer regularly you should not see a noticeable shift. If you have not worn your retainer for some time, attempting to force your teeth back into their previous position by wearing your old retainer can be damaging to the health of your teeth and gums. Remember, the purpose of a retainer is to retain and maintain your new smile, not for correcting issues.
Do you have veneers on your bottom teeth? While they are not a solution that will straighten your teeth on their own, they shouldn’t stand in the way of being able to undergo orthodontic treatment. However, this is important information that your orthodontist needs to know during your initial consultation so that they can accurately assess the health of your teeth and your viability for certain types of treatment. In most cases, if you’re considering getting veneers and also want to straighten your teeth, it would be recommended that you undergo your straightening procedure first to negate any risks of damaging the veneers and to get the best results. Depending on the reason you decided to get veneers, they may make certain treatment types unsuitable or may require additional monitoring appointments, so this should be discussed with your orthodontist as early as possible.
While you might not need to have your bottom teeth straightened for aesthetic reasons if your jaw is out of alignment and you have a bad bite, then straightening your bottom teeth may help to correct these issues. When correcting a bad bite, you will most likely need to treat the upper teeth at the same time even if the teeth appear straight.
Your teeth do tend to shift and change their position as you age, so it may be worthwhile correcting your lower teeth now and then maintain their position with a retainer to avoid needing more extensive treatment down the line.
To find out more about what will work for you, book a consultation with a registered specialist orthodontist. They will be able to assess your current smile and the potential impact of leaving your bottom teeth crooked.