Crowded Teeth

“Crowded teeth” is a term used to describe when teeth appear to be too tightly packed together. In most instances crowded teeth will cause the teeth to grow “crooked” or overlapping other teeth because there isn’t enough space in the jawbone to grow straight and natural.

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What are crowded teeth?

“Crowded teeth” is a term used to describe when teeth are too tightly packed together, causing them to overlap each other.  It usually happens when there isn’t enough space in the jawbone for them to erupt straight. Teeth may be forced to twist, slant, or overlap other teeth in order to continue their eruption.

Crowded teeth are a common dental issue and can usually be corrected with teeth straightening treatments such as braces or Invisalign. Whilst crowded teeth are unlikely to cause any pain, it can make the person feel self-conscious about his or her smile.

This condition starts to appear obvious during the early teenage years, although your dentist may predict it could happen based on the set up of the deciduous dentition.  Attending regular dental appointments from an early age allows the dentist to identify the early stages of crowded teeth and suggest if needed interceptive orthodontic management.

There are three classifications of crowded teeth:

Mild crowding

One of the front teeth may be slightly twisted on either the upper or lower jaw.

Moderate crowding

Two or three front teeth are overlapping on the upper or lower jaw.

Severe crowding

Four or more teeth are overlapping on the upper of the lower jaw.

Symptoms of crowded teeth

Crowded teeth do not directly generate any symptoms and it is considered to be mainly a cosmetic problem. It may however become an important factor in:

  • Poor oral hygiene, which in turn can potentially contribute to decay and gum disease.
  • Breathing problems – particularly on narrow jaws the case of narrow jaws
  • Gum recession – if the crowding is making the root of a tooth tip outwards this would lead to gum recession

What is the most common cause of crowded teeth?

Crowded teeth are a very common dental problem and can be caused by multiple factors as listed below:

  • Genetics: Crowding depends on the size of the jaws and the size of the teeth, and both can be inherited from your family.
  • Prolongued using of dummies and/or thumb sucking:  this habit will contribute decisively to the development of the jaws.
  • Delayed eruption of a baby tooth: In some instances, a baby tooth might not loosen in the gum when it should and can stop the adult tooth from emerging. This can alter the normal eruption patterns and lead to crowding.
  • Diet: although difficult to study, some authors suggest that the higher prevalence of crowding in our societies is due to a softer diet than the one our ancestors had. Raw and coarse food affected teeth and jaw development. Since people in the past had to chew and rip apart meat, their jaws grew bigger, stronger and more capable of accommodating all the teeth.

How do you fix crowded teeth?

Crowding can be fixed orthodontically, meaning with either removable or fixed appliances which condition the jaw growth and modify teeth position.  The best moment to treat crowding or potential crowding is during childhood, as the jaws are not fully formed yet.

Seeing a dentist on a regular basis from an early age is essential for an early diagnosis, and also of course to check for decay. Having said this, aligning the teeth at an adult age has never been more popular and incredible advances in technology have given us the ability to very efficiently correct tooth position at any stage in life.

Wimpole St Dental Clinic has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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