Causes of Crowded Teeth and How You Can Straighten Them

Crowded Teeth: Causes, Risks, and Treatment Options

Crowded teeth can affect your self-esteem, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the problem is not fixed, it can cause a poor bite, gum disease, dental decay, and more oral health complications. This is because dental crowding makes it difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene.

However, it’s possible to get straight teeth using aligners or braces. Keep reading to find out more about signs of overcrowding and treatment options.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Dental crowding occurs when there is not enough room in your jaw for the teeth to properly align.

  • The most common cause of crowded teeth is genetics or hereditary traits.

  • Other common causes include mouth tumors, dental injury, premature baby teeth removal, and cleft lip.

  • If you have crowded teeth, you could experience a bad bite, jaw pain, bad breath, speech impairment, bleeding gums, difficulty breathing through your nose, and excessively biting your tongue.

  • Dental crowding is mostly treated by wearing braces or aligners.

  • In some cases, veneers and dentofacial orthopedics are also used to fix a crooked smile.

 

What Is Dental Crowding?

Dental crowding, also known as swarming or crowded teeth, happens when your teeth don’t properly align due to insufficient space, and instead, they overlap or twist. 

When you have a small jaw that can’t accommodate all your growing teeth, they will compete for space. For that reason, it may look like you have extra teeth, but it’s just a case of dental crowding or malocclusion.

 

Dental crowding is quite common compared to other dental issues such as spacing

 

What Causes Crowded Teeth?

Some of the most common causes of crowded teeth include:

  • Genetics.
  • Facial or dental injury.
  • Cleft lip and palate.
  • Mouth tumor.
  • Removing baby teeth prematurely.

 

Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Dental Crowding?

No, wisdom teeth don’t cause dental crowding. What’s more, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that you can prevent teeth crowding by removing your wisdom or other teeth [1]. In fact, removing baby teeth prematurely can cause permanent teeth crowding. 

 

Signs of Dental Crowding

Some of the most common signs of overcrowded teeth include [2]:

  • Improper teeth alignment or overlapping teeth.
  • Poor biting or chewing patterns.
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose.
  • Excessive tooth decay.
  • Frequently biting your tongue or inner cheek when eating.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing your teeth.
  • Jaw pain.
  • Speech impairment or lisp.
  • Bad breath.

 

Can Crowded Teeth Be Prevented?

No, teeth crowding cannot be prevented, but it can be treated in early childhood with interceptive orthodontics to ​​alter the lack of jaw space before the permanent teeth come through. 

 

How To Fix Crowded Teeth

There are four corrective methods used to treat crowded teeth:

  1. Braces.
  2. Clear aligners.
  3. Veneers.
  4. Dentofacial orthopedics.

 

Braces

Traditional braces are the most common type of orthodontic technique recommended by the American Dental Association to treat minor or severe overcrowding teeth, especially in young children. 

Braces work by fixing wires on the bottom and upper teeth to apply constant pressure and correct dental teeth crowding. Once the braces become loose, you can visit the orthodontist for a tightening procedure.

It’s important to note that metal braces are more durable than ceramic brackets. However, ceramic braces are less visible compared to metal braces [3]. Lingual braces are another inconspicuous option as they attach to the back of your crowded top teeth or bottom teeth.

On the downside, traditional braces are not safe to remove without visiting an orthodontist. Not to mention, you will have a list of foods to avoid if you’re wearing metal or ceramic brackets on your teeth.

On average, most teenagers and adults wear braces for a period of 14 months up to 33 months [4]. Of course, it depends on the severity of your crooked teeth. 

 

Clear Aligners

Unlike braces, clear aligners can be removed when you want to eat or brush your teeth, so you don’t have a diet restriction. They’re made using invisible plastic trays that resemble the shape of your teeth. Clear aligners are a convenient alternative for people who don’t want to wear noticeable braces.

For this type of treatment, you will need to wear clear aligners for at least 22 hours every day. Depending on the aligner, you may be required to visit your dentist after every 2 weeks to replace your aligners. In contrast with braces, clear aligners have a shorter treatment time, and most patients wear them for 6 to 12 months on average.

However, clear aligners are not suitable for severely crowded teeth, but they can be used for minor or moderate crowding [5].

 

Veneers

Dental veneers are customized teeth-colored shells fabricated from resin composite or porcelain materials. Unlike braces or aligners, dental veneers don’t apply pressure to a patient’s teeth but instead, they’re used to reshape them. In other words, veneers can permanently alter the aesthetics of crooked teeth to give you a straight smile. 

Unfortunately, veneers are not suitable for children with crowded teeth. In most cases, braces or aligners are recommended for treating severe crowding before veneers are considered as an option. Not to mention, some dental veneers have an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years before they need replacing [6].

 

Dentofacial Orthopedics

Dentofacial orthopedics involves repairing the imbalances in your facial bone growth to create space for certain teeth to align properly. Since the jaw stops growing in adults, dentofacial orthopedics is mostly recommended for children younger than 7 years, especially if their permanent teeth haven’t yet developed.

During the treatment, the orthodontist may use appliances such as headgear, activators, bite blockers, and palatal expanders to adjust the upper or lower jaw growth. However, if you’re an adult, surgery could be necessary to fix underbite or overbite.

Braces may be prescribed by your orthodontist before or after the dentofacial alignment.

 

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Crowded Teeth?

Here is a breakdown of the average cost to fix overcrowding teeth depending on the orthodontic treatment:

  1. Braces: $2500–$10,000.
  2. Clear aligners: $1200–$8000.
  3. Veneers: $250–$2500.
  4. Dentofacial orthopedics: $1800–$7,000.

 

Braces Treatment Cost

The average cost for traditional metal braces is between $2500 to $7500 for a period of 12 to 24 months. On the other hand, ceramic treatment tends to be more expensive and you can spend as much as $3,000 to $10,000 for a long-term fix.

 

Clear Aligners Treatment Cost

How much you spend on clear aligners for straightening teeth will depend on the type and brand. For instance, Invisalign treatment that requires you to visit an orthodontist is usually expensive, with an average cost of $3,000 to $8,000.

However, at-home aligner brands such as Byte and AlignerCo are cheaper options than Invisalign aligners, with an average cost of between $870 to $2,295. This means you could pay as little as $79 to $99 per month to fix mild crowding teeth. Check out our Byte Aligners review and AlignerCo review for more details.

 

Veneers Treatment Cost

Dental veneers are often more expensive than traditional orthodontic treatment options for correcting crowding such as braces and aligners. To put it into perspective, porcelain veneers could cost as much as $500 to $2500 per tooth. A less expensive alternative for treating crowded teeth is resin composite veneers, with an average cost of $250 to $1200 per tooth.

 

Dentofacial Orthopedics Treatment Cost

The average cost of dentofacial orthopedics treatment depends on the severity of your misaligned teeth. Dentofacial alignment to fix your front teeth only will cost an average of between $2000 and $3900 for a period of 6 to 12 months. However, if the orthodontist is correcting both your upper and lower jaw, the average cost is typically between $5000 to $6900.

 

Is It Necessary To Fix Overcrowded Teeth?

Yes, it’s necessary to correct crowding teeth to prevent potential problems such as gum disease, teeth injury, bad breath, oral infections, and gastrointestinal issues [7]. Beyond that, poor dental health can cause general health complications such as weakened immune system, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. 

 

What To Expect When Visiting Your Dentist or Orthodontist

When visiting your dentist or orthodontist for the first time, they may take X-rays of your jaw, photographs of your face, and a 3D scan of your teeth. Using those assessment methods, the orthodontist will deduce if you have severe, moderate, or minor crowding and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Of course, your dentist or orthodontist will also schedule future appointments to monitor your crowded teeth treatment process and tighten your braces or replace your aligners. If you’re using veneers, the orthodontist will bond them to all the teeth using dental cement and a special light.

After your treatment, your orthodontist may recommend retainers to prevent your straight teeth from shifting out of their new position.

 

Crowded Teeth FAQs

Here are some answers to some of the most common questions asked about crowded teeth.

 

How Do You Fix Lower Teeth Crowding?

Why Are My Bottom Teeth So Crowded?

Can Crowded Teeth Be Fixed Without Braces?

Is It Okay To Have Crowded Teeth?

 

Conclusion

If you have overcrowded teeth, you can visit an orthodontist to seek treatment. Fixing dental crowding can improve your self-esteem along with your oral health.

It is possible to fix a slightly crooked smile or mild crowding using mail-order aligners without visiting a dentist or orthodontist. Even though at-home aligners are not currently backed by Association of Orthodontists (AAO), they’re convenient, affordable, and easy to access. 

 

References:

  1. Turner S;Harrison JE;Sharif FN;Owens D;Millett DT; “Orthodontic Treatment for Crowded Teeth in Children.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34970995/.
  2. “Misaligned Teeth and Jaws: Overview.” InformedHealth.org [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Jan. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553375/.
  3. “Misaligned teeth and jaws: Treatment with fixed braces.” 2020 Jan 16. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553378/
  4. Moresca R. (2018). Orthodontic treatment time: can it be shortened?. Dental press journal of orthodontics, 23(6), 90–105. https://doi.org/10.1590/2177-6709.23.6.090-105.sar
  5. Tamer, İpek, et al. “Orthodontic Treatment with Clear Aligners and the Scientific Reality behind Their Marketing: A Literature Review.” Turkish Journal of Orthodontics, Turkish Orthodontic Society, 1 Dec. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7018497/.
  6. Alothman, Y., & Bamasoud, M. S. (2018). The Success of Dental Veneers According To Preparation Design and Material Type. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences, 6(12), 2402–2408. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2018.353
  7. Das, Partha Jyoti, et al. “An Evaluation of Dental Crowding in Relation to the Mesiodistal Crown Widths and Arch Dimensions in Southern Indian Population.” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, JCDR Research and Publications (P) Limited, Sept. 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5713826/.

 


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