Why are teeth crooked?

Parents often ask “why are my child’s teeth crooked?” Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Teeth can grow incorrectly for a number of reasons, including but not limited to, genetic influences, jaw growth deformities, patient habits and serious oral conditions.

While some of these factors are beyond our control and braces or other types of orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct crooked teeth, there are a few things that parents can look out for to ensure their children are growing up with healthy and confident smiles.

Genetics and crooked teeth

When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crooked teeth or a bad bite), genetics is usually at play. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to accommodate a full set of teeth and misaligned jaws that are not growing evenly.

In most cases, underbites, overbites and crooked teeth are genetic and can’t be avoided, but can be treated. More serious growth problems will warrant early orthodontic intervention, well before all the adult teeth are through. Other less serious problems will probably require orthodontic treatment with braces to correct the condition once your child is old enough to wear them.

Childhood behaviours

While genetics play a major part in determining whether a child requires orthodontic treatment, certain early childhood behaviours may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth.

Taking care of baby teeth:

Baby teeth act as space maintainers for future adult teeth. If a child loses a baby tooth too early, the adjacent teeth can drift into the empty space, reducing the space available later when the adult tooth is ready to erupt. Therefore, taking good care of baby teeth is vital if you want to prevent crowding in the adult teeth.

Thumb sucking:

A thumb sucking habit after the front teeth have erupted can also impact a child’s teeth – pushing the front teeth forward or possibly creating an open-bite. It’s important to note that there are usually no ill-effects from thumb sucking in early childhood and most children naturally give up the habit somewhere between 2-4 years of age. However, if thumb sucking continues past the age of 6 or 7 (when adult teeth are coming through) there can be misalignment of front teeth and narrowing of the upper jaw which will lead to needing jaw expansion plates and braces. It’s therefore very important to break a thumb-sucking habit while the child is still young.

Treatment options

Here are the treatment options available

Metal Braces: Tried, Tested and Terrific for Kids

In an age of far and wide orthodontic options, traditional metal braces are still the most common treatment option for kids and teens. With this type of treatment, very small metal brackets are glued to the teeth and are then connected with a thin wire, which is adjusted or changed at regular intervals to gradually straighten your teeth and correct your bite – making them a very effective and reliable treatment option.

With so many new options now available to treat orthodontic problems, it’s no wonder you (and every other parent) might be feeling a little overwhelmed. There are four common treatments used by orthodontists for patients of all ages. As you will see, each has its pros and cons, but there’s no hiding the fact that traditional metal braces are still the best option for kids.

Ceramic Braces: A Popular Choice for Adults

Ceramic braces are often favoured by adults as they’re less noticeable than standard metal braces, with clear or tooth-coloured brackets and optional tooth-coloured wires. For those children or teenagers who feel particularly self-conscious about metal braces, ceramic braces might be a good option – they work as well as braces, and are less noticeable, however they do cost a little more than traditional metal braces.

Clear Aligners (eg Invisalign or ClearCorrect): Require Discipline

A sequence of clear plastic aligners can provide an alternative to fixed braces for less severe orthodontic problems. Clear aligners are removable and virtually invisible, but in most cases are less suitable for children as their design is such that they can only move teeth efficiently in a fully developed adult dentition. Furthermore, if aligners are not worn responsibly or are removed from the mouth too often (they need to be worn 22hours/day), the treatment will not work. Fixed braces, on the other hand, eliminate any temptation to be removed and are almost guaranteed to produce excellent treatment results.

Modern metal braces are much smaller and more comfortable than ever before. You’ll often see metal braces jazzed up with colourful elastic modules to make them fun and fashionable for your kids! Although dependent on each case, traditional metal braces are generally the most cost effective option compared to other orthodontic treatments.