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What causes crooked teeth?

Crooked teeth affect millions of people all over the globe and can be the bane of teenagers and adults alike. But why do teeth become crooked – and if they do start to head off in different directions what can be done about it?

Causes of crooked teeth

There are many reasons why teeth can become crooked throughout the different stages of our lives. Here are some of the most common causes:


Genetics can have a big impact on your chances of inheriting misaligned teeth or jaws, and if your parents have crooked teeth there’s a strong possibility that you might 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.

Dental restorations

Ill-fitting dental restorations such as crowns and bridges can occasionally put pressure on teeth and cause them to move. They can also affect the way your teeth bite together. 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 sucking put pressure on your teeth (much like a brace) – forcing them to move into a different position. Typically thumb sucking will result in an open bite (pictured) and you’ll have a gap where your upper and lower teeth don’t bite together.

Open bite

Gum disease

Any problems with your gums such as injury or disease can eventually impact on your teeth. Gum disease 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. Contrary to popular belief your wisdom teeth are not to blame. The real cause is 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 (pictured) during contact sports such as hockey and rugby.

Not wearing your retainer

Amongst orthodontic patients, the biggest cause of reoccurring crowding (or 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.

Read more about why teeth move after braces.

Solutions to crooked teeth

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

You’ll also be pleased to hear that braces now come in discreet forms such as Invisalign and lingual braces.

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

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Specialists in Straightening Teeth