What Causes Crooked Teeth?


smiling girl with crooked teeth in braces

Commercials, magazines, billboards, and blockbusters – everywhere you turn there’s a perfectly straight, perfectly bright white smile. It can sometimes feel intimidating and isolating if your own teeth fall short of spectacular. However, take a closer look at the people surrounding you in your everyday life. Notice anything? Not many of them are likely to have that all-American, red carpet ready smile, either!

The truth is, our teeth are designed with function in mind, not perfection. Having crooked teeth is actually more common than not. But what is it that causes teeth to become crowded, twisted, or overlapped? And are there any options here at Berkman & Shapiro that can help you create the smile you want?

Common causes of crooked teeth

There are several reasons that your teeth may grow in crooked. These can include things like


Genetics are the most frequent cause of crooked teeth. The dental markers that can lead to this often come from our parents – we have about as much control over how our teeth develop as we do over our hair or eye color!

In some cases, crowded teeth can be related to the size of our mouths. A mouth that’s on the small side has a greater chance of crowded teeth causing other teeth to shift. Misaligned jaws can lead to abnormal protrusions called underbites or overbites, which result in the upper or lower teeth extending beyond each other.

Bad habits

Thumb-sucking babies may be cute, but what habits like this can do isn’t! What might seem innocuous during infancy can actually create a sort of ripple effect that isn’t noticeable until many years later. An example of this is an infant who often sucks their thumb for comfort, or uses a pacifier for self-soothing, especially if this habit extends into the toddler years or beyond. These behaviors seem harmless (and are honestly sometimes even a help to overtired parents!) but they can lead to the child developing crooked teeth later on down the line.

There are a few other habits that can contribute to an ongoing misalignment of the jaw and crowding of the teeth. These are often unconscious habits, and are sometimes referred to as “myofunctional.” They include things like breathing through the mouth, tongue thrusting, and reverse swallowing, and are incredibly common. For these patients, a retainer will often be used after braces treatment to help keep the teeth aligned in spite of these hard to break habits.

Illness or injury

Any type of facial trauma, such as a jaw injury or mouth injury, can cause displacement of the teeth. This kind of trauma is often responsible for the most severe instances of crooked teeth. When teeth are lost or your jaw is shifted due to injury or illness, the remaining teeth will slowly shift to make up for that open space over time. In these cases, it’s especially important to seek care from an experienced orthodontist, because our bodies compensate for harm much more quickly than the slower changes that happen from genes or bad habits.

Timing is everything

Many people don’t take the health of the baby teeth as seriously as they should. The permanent teeth underneath them are directly affected by the health of the first set of teeth. If you lose these prematurely due to decay, trauma, or another factor, the permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward. Baby teeth are a bit like small anchors for permanent teeth. They help guide them as they erupt through the gums. If those anchors are missing, the permanent teeth are more likely to turn up in unexpected places!

Taking good care of baby teeth is also vital to having healthy permanent teeth free of discoloration or decay. Harmful oral bacteria is able to spread into the gums and reach the permanent teeth still buried there. Once this kind of bacteria is allowed to attach itself to a tooth’s enamel, it will begin eroding it even before it has a chance to fully erupt.

Treatment options for crooked teeth

Orthodontic treatment can begin at any age, which is one of the great things about it! But there’s definitely a recommended time to begin treatment. By starting at an early age, we can ensure the best possible result, and often help keep overall costs lower. Berkman & Shapiro, along with the American Association of Orthodontists, recommend that children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by around age 7. Issues like crooked or crowded teeth can benefit greatly from this kind of early intervention and possible treatment.

What kind of treatment? Well, that depends. Once an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Berkman or Dr. Shapiro has completed a full examination, they’ll be able to establish a diagnosis. From there, they will come up with a customized treatment plan for your specific issues. Depending on the severity of the problem, treatment could range from something as simple as a retainer to braces or even surgical treatment if necessary.

Meet Dr Mark Berkman and Dr Lainie Shapiro, Berkman & Shapiro Orthodontics, Commerce Township, MI 48382

Straightening teeth with Berkman & Shapiro Orthodontics

If you’re in the Commerce Township or the surrounding area, get in touch with us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to see if our orthodontic treatments could benefit you. With two experienced orthodontists and a friendly, skilled team on board, we’re proud to offer personalized one-on-one care to every patient we see. We also have early morning, evening, and Saturday appointments available because we know how hectic family life can be these days!

Speaking of convenience, our office was designed with precision and efficiency to provide a relaxing and accommodating patient experience. Although our wait times are short, we want you to make yourself at home before we bring you back. Our reception area has Wi-Fi, a coffee bar, and charging stations for your mobile device, as well as current books and magazines. Our family-centered approach to treatment means we provide a positive environment for patients from 7 to 70.

So whether you’re an adult dealing with a lifetime of issues due to crooked teeth, or a parent with a child who’s just beginning to show signs of potential problems, give us a call or click here to schedule your free evaluation. Berkman & Shapiro have what it takes to set your smile straight!