Crooked teeth are more than a cosmetic problem. Misaligned teeth, also called malocclusion, make it difficult to brush and floss, which can lead to serious oral health concerns if left untreated. While braces are the most common treatment for crooked teeth, there are other options available depending on the severity of the misalignment.
Although teeth-straightening treatments are most commonly pursued for cosmetic reasons, fixing crooked teeth is crucial to maintaining good oral health. Dental concerns that can result from crooked teeth include:
Braces are an amazing way to shift teeth and your bite line in the shape that the orthodontist chooses. Braces work by applying consistent pressure to the teeth over a specific period of time in order to slowly move them in a given direction. When the teeth move, the corresponding bone will also change shape.
Malocclusion is a general term that encompasses several different types of crooked teeth:
There are several options available for addressing misaligned teeth, and the treatment that’s right for you will depend on the severity of your malocclusion, your budget, and other considerations.
Braces are a traditional and affordable way to fix crooked teeth—including severe misalignment issues—using metal brackets and wires to gradually realign the teeth. The brackets are usually made of metal, but there are also clear brackets available for a more inconspicuous look.
Invisalign is a newer treatment for malocclusion that has several advantages over braces. Instead of using brackets and wires, patients are fitted with customized plastic trays that are changed out every couple weeks. And because Invisalign is removable, it doesn’t come with the problems with eating, brushing, and flossing common with braces. The drawbacks to Invisalign include a higher cost compared to braces, as well as limitations in the severity of misalignment it can treat.
For certain mild forms of malocclusion, dental veneers are a much simpler option that provides immediate results. Veneers are thin porcelain shells cemented to the surface of the teeth to cover up slight misalignment, gaps, and other minor cosmetic issues that don’t require full-mouth treatment.
Other remedies for misaligned teeth include extractions, which can help with crowded teeth, or reshaping individual crooked teeth with a crown or dental bonding. For severe misalignment, some patients benefit from surgery that reshapes the jaw, typically in conjunction with braces or other alignment treatments.
While most crooked teeth issues are the result of genetics, there are habits in both childhood and adulthood that can lead to malocclusion. For kids, stopping thumbsucking early and encouraging daily oral hygiene routines can lead to positive dental outcomes later in life. But even with teeth that are relatively aligned, adults can experience gradual misalignment due to certain habits such as sleeping on your stomach, which can cause teeth to shift out of place over time. Also, gaps caused by missing teeth can lead to other teeth moving to fill the space, so if you lose a tooth due to injury or decay, it’s important to replace it with a dental implant, crown, or bridge to maintain proper alignment. Other bad habits that can lead to misalignment include chewing on pens, biting your nails, and frequently blowing bubbles with chewing gum.
If you have misalignment issues and would like to show off a bright, straight smile, University Dental can help. For more information about crooked teeth treatment or to schedule a consultation, call us at (619) 582-4224.