There are several reasons why some people's teeth grow in crooked, overlapping, or twisted. Some people's mouths are too small for their teeth, which crowds the teeth and causes them to shift. In other cases, a person's upper and lower jaws aren't the same size or are malformed, resulting in either an overbite, when there is excessive protrusion of the upper jaw, or an under bite, when the lower jaw protrudes forward causing the lower jaw and teeth to extend out beyond the upper teeth.
What Causes Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites?
Most often crooked teeth, overbites, and under bites are inherited traits just as the color of your eyes or size of your hands. Other causes of misaligned bites are early loss of baby or adult teeth; improper fit of dental restorations (for example, fillings or crowns); too small of a jaw to accommodate erupting teeth; gingivitis (gum disease); undue pressure on the teeth and gums; misalignment of jaw after severe facial injury; tumors of the mouth or jaw; or common oral health problems in children such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond the age of three, or prolonged use of a bottle.
Your dentist can determine if your teeth are crooked and bite misaligned through a routine examination of your mouth, teeth, jaw, and facial appearance. Your dentist will look for the following signs:
Abnormal alignment of your teeth
Abnormal appearance of your face
Difficulty or discomfort when chewing or biting
Speech difficulties, including a lisp
Your dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist - a dentist with dental equipment who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.
How Are Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites Treated?
Once a diagnosis is made, your orthodontist can decide the best treatment for your teeth or misaligned bite. For some people, a removable retainer (to stabilize the new position of teeth) will be all that's needed to correct the problem. Removal of one or more teeth may be required if overcrowding is the main problem. For most people, braces are necessary to correct the problem. In rare and extreme cases, such as an extreme overbite or under bite, an operation may be necessary.