What causes crooked teeth?

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Crooked teeth are a common problem, especially among children. A child’s permanent teeth grow in crooked if the jaw is too small and doesn’t have enough room for them. The most common cause of crooked teeth is a discrepancy between the size of the upper and lower jaw. This prevents the teeth from meeting properly or fitting together correctly when the mouth is closed. A growing child’s permanent teeth then grow in crooked, as they find other places to come in where there is space. However, often it’s not possible to determine a single cause of crooked teeth: what’s known as malocclusion (bad bite) occurs more frequently when several causative factors are involved, especially genetic ones. Here are some of the factors that can contribute to crooked teeth.

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Here are some of the factors that can contribute to crooked teeth:

  • This is the most common factor that causes crooked teeth, according to Dr. Lisa Yee on her website, “Mom Advice.” The reason for this is that it’s passed down from parent to child.
  • This refers to an improper alignment of the teeth in your mouth due to their shape or size, according to About Health’s article on crooked teeth.
  • Mouth breathing (also called nasopharyngeal breathing). When you breathe through your mouth instead of through your nose, it can be hard for your jawbone and face muscles to grow properly, which can cause misaligned teeth or even facial deformities such as a cleft palate (a hole between one’s lips), according to KidsHealth Magazine.* Thumb sucking.* Teeth grinding.* Unusual swallowing patterns (e.g., gulping liquids down too fast).

*Inherited characteristics

The way a person’s teeth grow is influenced by their inherited characteristics, which can be passed on from their parents. A child will inherit these genetic traits from both parents and they may affect the way the body develops. For example, a child with crooked teeth may have inherited this trait from either parent or both parents and it could be passed down through generations of their family line.

*Chronic mouth breathing

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  • Chronic mouth breathing can cause crooked teeth. Mouth breathing, or “oral breathing” as it’s sometimes called, is a common condition in which you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose. If you’re consistently inhaling through the back of your throat when sleeping and/or biting, this can lead to crooked teeth over time.
  • A deviated septum can cause chronic mouth breathing and therefore crooked teeth. A deviated septum is a condition where the cartilage that separates both nostrils is not straight but tilted toward one side instead (think of a tree trunk sticking out toward one direction). When the nasal passages are obstructed by such a deviation and cannot be completely cleared with normal nasal congestion remedies like saline sprays or nasal strips, they start carrying air into the back of our throats instead—which leads us right back to our first point: chronic oral breathing!

*Finger or thumb sucking after age three

Sucking your thumb or finger after age three can cause problems with permanent teeth that grow in crooked. The upper jaw may be too small for the size of your adult teeth, and the shape of these teeth may be unusual. This can also affect how well-aligned your permanent teeth are, if they weren’t already when you were born. It might even cause the tongue to grow in an unusual way!

*Teeth grinding and clenching at night

  • Teeth grinding and clenching at night. This is often a symptom of sleep apnea, but it can also be a cause of crooked teeth. If you grind or clench your teeth at night, you could be causing permanent damage to your jaw bones and muscles, which may lead to an uneven bite.
  • Excessive gum chewing. Chewing on something hard like pencils or pens all day long will cause the muscles in your jaw to get stronger than usual—and this can also throw off the alignment of your teeth over time.

*Unusual swallowing patterns like biting down with the back teeth instead of using the front teeth to guide food into the mouth

  • You may also have TMJ disorder, a condition that occurs when the jaw does not close properly. This can cause pain and headaches.
  • If you tend to bite down with your back teeth, instead of using your front teeth to guide food into the mouth, this can wear out the enamel on the back molars prematurely.
  • Since the front teeth are designed for chewing and biting, they are much stronger than their counterparts in the back of the mouth.

Crooked teeth are often caused by having a smaller jaw than you need for all your teeth.

  • Most often, crooked teeth are caused by having a smaller jaw than you need for all your teeth. This is an overbite or underbite.
  • Your first molars (the teeth in the back of your mouth) can also be affected. These are called wisdom teeth, which some people never grow in or have removed if they do come in. Sometimes the gap between them causes problems with chewing and other issues such as impacted third molars that can cause infection or pain where they aren’t properly positioned within the jawbone itself.


Or they may be caused by an inherited trait that affects the way your teeth grow. To straighten your teeth, you will probably need braces or other orthodontic treatment.

Oscar Contreras

Oscar Contreras is the Client Relations Manager at veneerscolombia.com, specializing in public relations within the dental sector and international medical tourism. He is known for his ability to engage with a diverse clientele, supported by his advanced proficiency in English. Oscar's focus is on providing exceptional patient experiences, ensuring personalized and high-quality care in aesthetic and medical dentistry.