How Teeth Have Become Crooked

Crooked, twisted and overlapping teeth are extremely common and are some of the main reasons why people are referred for orthodontic treatment. Yet, many of us don’t give much thought to why our teeth have ended up that way in the first place.


The Evolution Of The Human Jaw


It is widely known that the human body has evolved considerably over the centuries. There are many ways in which it has changed, but one area that has very clearly developed is the shape, size, and position of our jaw. Firstly, it’s crucial to point out that every person is different, and the appearance of our jaw is fairly unique to us. If you have ancestors with a fairly large, square jaw then chances are you will develop one too. Meanwhile, if your parents have a narrow, petite jaw, you will almost certainly develop this characteristic. Jaw size and shape also depends on the environment around us. Bone is a live substance and grows along with the rest of our body when we are small. Studies have found that the length of our jaw largely depends on the experience it has when we are still in the growth phase of our development and heavy chewing can result in excessive stress and strain on the jaw that can cause it to grow larger than it might normally.


Nevertheless, studies have found that orthodontic problems such as crooked, twisted teeth, narrow jaws, and overbites are a relatively new occurrence. Remains of skeletons from just 300 years ago showed that humans predominantly had wide jaws and flat palates, and these facilitated the eruption of straight, perfectly aligned teeth. However, more than half of people find that their jaw is too small to accommodate their adult teeth. This is because the alveolar bone (which supports the teeth) is significantly smaller than it was before, and we have smaller masseter and pterygoid muscles.


The Problem With Crooked Teeth


Crooked, twisted teeth don’t only present cosmetic problems that can cause us to feel embarrassed or self-conscious about our smile. There is a range of functional difficulties associated with teeth that are misaligned in this way, including uneven wear and tear on the teeth, an increased risk of decay and periodontal disease, impaction and bite problems. Some patients with crooked teeth also go on to develop sleep apnea – a very common condition characterized by interruptions in the normal pattern of breathing at night. Sleep apnea is thought to be more prevalent in people with smaller jaws since a smaller mouth means less space for the tongue, giving it more opportunity to fall backwards into the mouth when you are sleeping, causing a partial blockage to the airway.


Orthodontic Solutions For Crooked Teeth


Fortunately, there are a variety of different solutions for crooked teeth and other similar problems. these are known as orthodontic solutions and are widely available from most dentists. Exactly what work you will need will depend on your individual circumstances, but some of the most common treatments include:

  • Extraction of impacted teeth

  • Conventional braces. Braces are comprised of a series of brackets, wires, and bands that are attached to the teeth. These work by placing pressure onto the teeth and jaw to move them into a more functional and attractive position.

  • Invisalign and other clear orthodontics. These work in a similar way to conventional braces, but use a series of clear, plastic aligners to move the teeth rather than brackets and wires. Their discretion and comfort make them a very popular alternative to braces. 



If you have crooked teeth and would like more information about orthodontic treatments that can help to straighten your smile, our dedicated dental team would be happy to help. Contact  Dr. Amy Guthrie, DDS in Los Altos, California at (650) 323-2138 today to book your appointment.