There are various reasons behind crooked teeth and misaligned bites. In some, mouths are too small for all the teeth to fit, which therefore crowds the teeth and makes them to shift. In some others, the upper and lower jaws are malformed or of different size, resulting in an overbite, where there is excessive protrusion of the upper jaw, or an underbite, where there is protrusion of the lower jaw.
Causes of Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites
Genetic factor – Just as the color of hair, size of hands, etc are inherited traits, even the crooked teeth, overbites and underbites are inherited through generations.
Oral health problems in children – Habits like thumb sucking, using pacifier, tongue thrusting and extended use of bottle can lead to crooked and misaligned teeth.
Other factors – Early loss of infant or adult teeth; improper fitting of dental restorations; undue pressure on the teeth and gums; gum disease; tumors of mouth or jaw and misalignment of jaw after an injury.
Problems that Arise with Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites
Crooked teeth and misaligned bites can cause certain risks of other teeth disorders. They:
- Interfere with chewing
- Increase the risk of cavities, tooth decay and gum diseases
- Strain the teeth, jaws, bone and muscles raising the risk of tooth breakage
- Make people uncomfortable about their appearance and affect their self esteem
Signs and Symptoms of Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites
When your teeth are crooked or your bites are misaligned, you may notice the following signs:
- Abnormal teeth alignment
- Abnormal facial appearance
- Discomfort or difficulty while biting or chewing
- Difficulty when speaking
When diagnosed with these signs, the dentist may refer you to an orthodontist, a specialist in diagnosing and treating crooked teeth and misaligned bites.
Tests and Diagnosis of Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites
Diagnostic tests are usually performed to determine the type of treatment for the particular condition. Tests can be – X-rays, teeth impressions and photographs of the face.
- X-rays give information on the position of the teeth and roots. Special panoramic X-rays or cephalometrics show relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head.
- Impressions of the teeth are done by making you bite on a soft material which is used to create an identical copy of the teeth.
- Regular photographs are taken to determine the relationship between the teeth, jaws and the head.
Treatment for Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites
The orthodontist can only decide the best treatment once a perfect diagnosis is made.
Removable retainers – Retainers maintain and hold the teeth alignment and improve the bite. Overall, they stabilize the position of the teeth.
Teeth removal – If overcrowding is the main problem, removal of one or more teeth will be necessary.
Braces – These help in correcting the crooked teeth. They straighten the teeth.
In case of an extreme overbite or underbite, surgery is required.