What causes crooked teeth?

What causes crooked teeth?

Are my wisdom teeth making my teeth crooked?

What causes crooked teeth?


Crooked teeth affects millions of people and can be the bane of children, teenagers and adults alike. But, why do teeth become crooked? And, if they do start to head off in different directions how can they be fixed?

Causes of crooked teeth

There are many reasons why teeth can become crooked throughout the different stages of our lives (keep reading to see if those pesky wisdom teeth are to blame!). These are some of the most common causes:


Genetics can be a big contributing factor to having misaligned or crowded teeth or jaws, and if your parents have crooked teeth there’s a strong possibility that you might inherit them too. A small jaw can also increase your risk of crowded teeth, simply due to a lack of space.

Missing teeth

The early loss of both adult and baby teeth can affect the position of your remaining teeth, causing them to drift into available gaps. Sometimes baby teeth can be replaced by larger adult teeth that overlap and crowd together due to limited space. Also, congenitally missing teeth and supernumerary teeth can cause maligned, crooked or spaced teeth.

Erupting teeth

There’s a common misconception that wisdom teeth erupt and push all the other teeth along the line forward and cause mid-line crowding.  However, that’s simply not the case and research by Dr Tom Southard at the University of Iowa has shown that they do not exert enough pressure on other teeth to create dental crowding. As part of this study, sensors were used to measure the pressures on teeth, with and without wisdom teeth present, ultimately showing that there was no difference between the two.

Dental restorations

Dental restorations such as crowns and bridges that are too big or ill-fitting can occasionally put pressure on adjacent teeth and cause them to move or drift. They can also affect the way your teeth bite together which can lead to further moving and drifting. If you start to experience any problems as a result of a restoration get in touch with your dentist as soon as you can.

Thumb sucking

Habits such as thumb or finger sucking put a slow, constant pressure on your teeth and your jaws (much like a brace) – forcing them to move into a different position. Typically thumb sucking will result in an open bite  and you’ll have a gap where your upper and lower teeth don’t bite together. This can usually be fixed with orthodontics but if it is severe, it will require orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery).

Gum disease

Any problems with your gums such as injury or disease can eventually impact on your teeth. Gum disease can develop into periodontal disease which can cause teeth to become loose and change their alignment as well as your bite.


Time can also take its toll on the position of your teeth. As we age our teeth can have an unfortunate tendency to drift forward and become more crowded. Your jaw bone, which looses density over the years and changes shape, encouraging teeth to crowd towards the front of your mouth.


If you suffer an injury to your face the force could cause your teeth to move and become misaligned. A trauma could also affect the position of your jaw or damage your gums, which in turn could cause your teeth to shift. To reduce the risk of a trauma to your teeth, we advise our patients to wear a gumshield during contact sports such as hockey and rugby.

Not wearing your retainer

Amongst orthodontic patients, the biggest cause of reoccurring crowding/ orthodontic relapse is undoubtedly the absence of retainers. For as long as you want your teeth to stay straight after wearing braces, you will need to follow your orthodontists instructions and wear your fixed and/or removable retainer.


Solutions to crooked teeth

Thankfully, whatever the cause of your crooked teeth, there is a solution. Braces are a very effective way to straighten crowded teeth. And, if you wear your retainers regularly, your teeth should stay straight for many, many years.

To find out more, browse our website, or, if you’re ready to take the next step – get in touch to arrange consultation!

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