Many people, both children, and adults alike, have crooked teeth. Occasionally, crooked teeth can contribute to poor self-esteem and loss of confidence. But even if crooked teeth don’t bother someone mentally, your dentist in St. Louis may still be worried. The truth is, crooked teeth can lead to some oral health (and overall health) complications, some of which can be serious.
Health Problems Caused by Crooked Teeth
- Gum Disease – Straight teeth are often healthier teeth because they’re easier to take care of. When teeth aren’t straight or overlap, they can be very difficult to clean thoroughly and properly. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause a whole host of oral health problems such as cavities and gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can progress into periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss and damaged bone.
- Jaw Pain & Chipped Teeth – Those with crooked teeth may also be at greater risk for damaging their teeth because crooked teeth often cause too much wear and tear on teeth. What’s more, is that this increased wear and tear can also put unnecessary stress on the jaw joint, which can lead to jaw pain or even TMJ/TMD.
- Sleep Apnea – Crooked teeth don’t only contribute to problems with oral health, but overall health, too. One of the lesser-known side effects of crooked or overlapping teeth is sleep apnea. Oftentimes patients with a small jaw also have overcrowded teeth, and this combination can make it hard to breathe. When the jaw is too narrow we tend to push our tongues into our teeth or rest the tongue in an unnatural place, which can put unnecessary pressure on teeth and cause them to shift. This lack of tongue space can also cause the tongue to fall back and cover the throat while sleeping, thus causing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that can cause people to stop breathing several times a night and increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
The Problem with a Bad Bite
Many times, the solution to overcoming a crooked smile is some sort of orthodontic treatment. But there are times when a visually straight smile can also benefit from orthodontics. You see, if someone’s teeth appear straight, they can still have an underlying problem of a bad bite, also known as malocclusion. If not treated, a bad bite could be painful and contribute to long-term complications. Such as:
- Increased risk for chipped teeth
- Speech impairment in kids
- Severe headaches
- Damage to tooth enamel
Your dentist in St. Louis can help determine if you have a bad bite even if you have straight teeth and recommend the best treatment.
Causes of Crooked Teeth
There’s no one, concrete thing that causes crooked teeth. In fact, there are many causes of crooked teeth, some of which may be unavoidable. Crooked teeth can be caused by:
- Poor habits as a child such as thumb sucking
- Early tooth loss before an adult tooth is ready to erupt
- A small jaw
- Facial injury
- Mouth breathing
- Incorrect tongue posture
If you’re curious about whether your teeth could benefit from some form of orthodontia, we encourage you to call your St. Louis dentist to schedule a consultation to talk about your concerns and options.