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What Causes Crooked Teeth?

By October 29, 2021April 3rd, 2024Blog, Orthodontics

Do you have crooked teeth? If so, you’ve probably often wondered why some people have crooked teeth while others are blessed with Hollywood-straight smiles. Are perfectly straight teeth only possible with orthodontic intervention? Is it normal for teeth to grow in crooked? What causes crooked teeth anyway — and how can you fix them? Well, as your Kelowna orthodontic specialists, the team at Straight Smiles is here to answer all your crooked teeth questions.

First of all, you may be happy to know that it’s totally normal to have crooked teeth. In fact, very few people naturally have the perfectly straight pearly whites you see in the movies. You’ll also be even happier to know that crooked teeth are easy to fix with orthodontic treatment. So if you’re ready to find out if braces or Invisalign can improve your smile, you’re in the right place.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • The causes of crooked teeth
  • How to fix crooked teeth
  • The benefits of orthodontic treatment

Causes of Crooked Teeth

There are many reasons why a person’s teeth may come in crooked or overlapping. Whether caused by a genetic predisposition or by oral health habits, here’s why you may have crooked teeth:

Thumb Sucking:

Children who consistently suck their thumb for an extended period of time are at an increased risk for developing crooked teeth. That’s because the thumb applies steady pressure to the child’s gums while they’re still developing, causing abnormal growth patterns when their teeth come in. The longer the child sucks their thumb, the more pronounced the issue becomes.

Tongue Thrusting:

Tongue thrusting is a perfectly normal action in infants, but the reflex typically goes away by six months of age. Sometimes, however, tongue thrusting becomes an ongoing habit that can interfere with the proper development of the teeth. When a child continues to tongue thrust, it can have the same effect on the teeth as thumb sucking, resulting in misaligned teeth and/or protruding upper teeth.

Mouth Breathing:

Yep, you read that right. Mouth breathing is one of the most common causes of crooked teeth in children. That’s because the tongue is meant to spend most of the day hanging out on the roof of your mouth, applying gentle pressure to the palate and allowing the jaw to grow into the right shape and position. If you breathe through your mouth, however, your jaw will not develop properly, contributing to crooked teeth.

Injury to the face or jaw:

If you experience trauma to the face or jaw injury in childhood, it can cause your jaw to shift out of its optimal position. This can in turn cause misaligned bite and crooked teeth.

Tooth Loss:

If you suffer a jaw injury, you may also lose teeth as a result, leaving open spaces in your bite. These gaps can cause the teeth to shift, leading to crooked teeth.

Not Wearing Your Retainer:

If you’ve already had braces or Invisalign but find your teeth becoming crooked again, it’s likely because you’re not wearing your retainer as often as you’re supposed to. This is called orthodontic relapse: when your teeth gradually return to their original positions after your treatment ends.

Gum Disease:

Sometimes, your teeth can become crooked even after you have all of your adult teeth. Instead of being a normal part of your natural tooth development, it’s the result of gum disease, which can cause the teeth to become loose and change your tooth alignment. On the flip side, crooked teeth can also lead to gum disease because it’s harder to appropriately and effectively brush and floss all of your teeth’s surfaces. By straightening your teeth with orthodontic treatment, you’re not only improving your smile’s appearance but your overall oral health, too!


Often, crooked teeth simply run in the family. If your parents have crooked teeth, there’s a good chance that you will too, despite following all the recommendations for proper oral hygiene. Fortunately, orthodontics can help.

How to Fix Crooked Teeth

Whether you have crooked teeth yourself or your child’s teeth are coming in crooked, you might be wondering what the options are for getting a beautiful, straight, healthy smile. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to encourage proper development of the teeth before they come in, as well as proven orthodontic treatment options for straightening the teeth later on. Here’s what you can do to fix crooked teeth:

Avoid Oral Habits:

An easy way to support proper alignment as the teeth come in is to avoid habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing. If your child is doing these things and you’re worried that they’ll develop crooked teeth, talk to your Kelowna orthodontic specialists for tips to manage oral health behaviours.

Get an Orthodontic Assessment by 8 Years of Age:

On that note, it’s recommended that all children seek an orthodontic provider for a jaw assessment after their first molars have erupted, typically between the ages of 6 and 8. This consultation is meant to provide peace of mind for parents that your child’s teeth are developing appropriately, and to mitigate any orthodontic risk factors. We can also help you plan ahead for orthodontic treatment, should your child require it, so you know what to expect in the years to come.


One of the most effective ways to fix crooked teeth is with tried-and-true braces. Fortunately, braces today are much more discreet and streamlined than they used to be (no chunky brackets required!), so you can smile confidently all throughout your treatment. At Straight Smiles, we offer multiple types of braces, including traditional metal braces and clear ceramic braces, so you can find the perfect treatment for your lifestyle.


If the thought of wearing classic braces doesn’t make you smile, Invisalign might be more your style. This state-of-the-art system uses a series of custom-made, clear, plastic trays to gradually move your teeth into the ideal position. Invisalign is so discreet that it’s practically invisible, making it a popular choice for adults wishing to straighten their teeth.

Wear Your Retainer:

For people who have already undergone orthodontic treatment, you’ve probably heard your orthodontist say it a million times: for your results to last, you need to wear your retainer every single day. Well, it’s true. Your teeth go through a lot during treatment, so it makes sense that they’ll want to relax back into their old positions once the hardware comes off. When you’re done with your braces treatment, we’ll fit you for a custom retainer to hold your teeth in their new positions. Typically, for the first two years, you’ll have to wear them every evening and night until Dr. Scramstad instructs you otherwise. But trust us, when you see how great your new smile looks, wearing a retainer won’t seem like a big deal at all!

Health Benefits of Straight Teeth

So is having straight teeth purely about aesthetics? A lot of people think so but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A straight smile doesn’t just make you look good — it has a measurable impact on your oral and your overall health. Here are just a few of the many benefits of orthodontic treatment:

Makes Oral Hygiene Easier:

Crooked or overlapping teeth have more little nooks and crannies, which can make brushing and flossing more difficult. Straight teeth, on the other hand, make cleaning super simple because it’s easy to get in between each and every tooth. And if flossing is easier, it’s also much more likely that you’ll stick with it, which will keep your teeth and gums stronger and healthier than ever.

Keeps Tooth Decay and Gum Disease at Bay:

Speaking of healthy teeth and gums, having straight teeth is proven to reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. That’s partly because they’re easier to clean, but it can also be because the gums fit better around straight teeth than crooked teeth. Straightening your teeth with orthodontics can fix that right up.

Improves Your Speech:

Did you know that your teeth play a big role in how you speak? They help to control the airflow you use to make different sounds and certain orthodontic issues, such as over- or underbite, are often associated with speech problems.

Reduces Risk of Injury:

Protruding teeth, or front teeth that stick out, are at an increased risk for injury from both sports and regular wear and tear. Orthodontic treatment can guide these teeth into proper alignment, protecting your teeth, jaw and gums from potential harm.

Boosts Your Confidence:

Having straight teeth is positively correlated to better confidence and self-esteem. And beyond that, studies have shown that people who have a straighter smile are perceived to be smarter and more successful than those with crooked teeth. It’s unfortunate that society puts such an emphasis on appearances, but we think it’s more about feeling your best than anything else. Because when you feel good about yourself, you smile bigger and brighter than ever, and that’s when you look your best too.

Improves Your Overall Health:

Gum disease is proven to contribute to serious health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes, and premature labour in pregnant women. So improving your smile is about so much more than how you look — it really can transform your overall health.

If you’ve been thinking about straightening your teeth, or if you think your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment, contact Straight Smiles to discuss your options. We’re here to answer any questions you may have about improving crooked teeth and to guide you on your journey to your perfect smile. Book a complimentary consultation with Dr. James Scramstad today.

Dr. James Scramstad

Author Dr. James Scramstad

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