Why in the World Do Teeth Grow in Crooked?

Life Is Better With a Smile

woman smiling

Most people wish they were born with perfectly straight teeth. Sadly, few are. The majority of people have some form of overcrowding or misalignment, and most of them have visited their nearest orthodontist to improve the look of their smile.

But, why? What causes crooked teeth in adults? Can you prevent adult teeth from developing misalignments? Are crooked teeth genetic? Here are a few basic facts about oral health and some tips on how to prevent crooked teeth.


Having crooked teeth runs in families. That’s because genetics can affect:

The size of the jaw: If people have small jaws, their teeth will compete for space inside the mouth. As a result, they begin to overlap, resulting in noticeably crooked teeth. If the jaw is too large, the teeth may not fill the entire mouth. The resulting gaps can cause teeth to shift position.

The size of the teeth: Some teeth are bigger than others. Those born with oversized teeth may experience greater crowding while those with smaller teeth may notice gaps in their mouth.

The number of teeth: The average adult has 28 teeth, but some have as many as 32, depending on whether the wisdom teeth are present. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth erupting can overcrowd the mouth and move the teeth alignment – one of the main reasons dentists and orthodontists encourage wisdom teeth removal.

Bright Smile Tip!

People can’t change their genes, but they can visit an orthodontist, who can come up with strategies for clearing space, closing gaps, and aligning teeth. The most common method for correcting overcrowding is to straighten adult teeth with braces.

Premature Loss of Baby Teeth

Babies get their first teeth between the ages of six months and one year. Called primary teeth, they’re space holders for the bigger, permanent set of teeth that will grow in when a child is about three years old.

If a primary tooth falls out early, either because of injury, decay, or natural loss, the other teeth may shift in order to fill the empty space. When the permanent tooth does replace the baby tooth, it may move from its normal position and grow in crooked.

Bright Smile Tip!

If a primary tooth falls out early, an orthodontist can insert a device called a space maintainer, which fills the spot left by the lost tooth to ensure that the permanent tooth grows in with proper alignment.

In some cases, it’s best to wait until the permanent teeth replace the baby teeth and then rely on braces to fix the problem. Either way, it’s good for parents to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist as early as possible, preferably before all of their child’s permanent teeth develop, or, at the very least, before they fall out.

Bad Habits

Genes and luck account for most cases of crooked teeth, but behavior is also to blame. If children suck their thumbs, breathe through their mouths, grind their teeth, or press their tongues against their mouths, they may move their teeth out of alignment.

Bright Smile Tip!

On the bright side, it’s fairly easy to correct the bad habits that lead to crooked teeth. It’s important to avoid bad habits while the adult teeth are growing in. They haven’t yet settled into position, which makes them more susceptible to pressure.

Life Is Better with a Smile!

Preventing and correcting crooked teeth takes time and a good plan, but, with the help of a great orthodontist, it’s easy to do.

The best orthodontists not only use the latest tools and techniques, they take the time to examine each patient carefully. They want to know why someone’s teeth are misaligned and how they’re likely to develop over time.

As soon as the orthodontist identifies the underlying causes, he or she can create a personalized strategy that addresses a patient’s specific problems, whether that includes traditional braces, Invisalign, retainers, or space maintainers.

At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we go a step further. We treat each of our patients like family. Schedule an appointment today to find out why so many people leave our office flashing a great big, beautiful smile!