We often get consulted about crooked teeth or protruding teeth by parents whose children have them, and also often by adults who have them. Teeth that point in the wrong direction are one of the common types of bite problems that orthodontists treat. If you’re concerned about crooked teeth or protruding teeth in your child or yourself, here’s some basic information to help you understand the condition and the treatment options.
What Are Crooked or Protruding Teeth?
These descriptive terms are fairly self-evident. When we talk about crooked teeth, we’re referring to teeth that are angled sideways to some degree, rather than pointing straight up; they may also point inward or outward to some degree as well. Protruding teeth point outward (a condition known as a protrusion). There’s also the inverse of protruding teeth: retruding teeth, which point inward (a condition called retrusion). These conditions typically affect the front upper or lower teeth, and they can range from mild to severe.
Are Protruding or Crooked Teeth Concerning?
Teeth that don’t point in the correct direction are widely seen as an aesthetic problem. This can make people hesitant to show off their smile, or even to talk and laugh around others, and it may undermine confidence and self-esteem. It can also be uncomfortable and make it hard to close the mouth, potentially leading to mouth breathing and dry mouth. Protruding or crooked teeth can make biting and chewing difficult, which in turn can cause digestive difficulties, and they can interfere with the ability to speak clearly. These conditions may also hinder effective brushing, increasing the risk of bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and periodontitis. There are also the possibilities of excessive wear and breaking in some teeth, and injuries to the gums or tongue, too.
What Causes Crooked or Protruding Teeth?
Protruding or crooked teeth may grow in this way, or they may gradually become this way. Genetics often plays a role, particularly as it affects the size and positioning of the jaw bones and teeth. If either or both of these factors leave a person with too little space in their mouth, teeth often become misaligned. In fact, these conditions may accompany other malocclusions (bite misalignment issues) like dental crowding. Habits like pacifier- or thumb-sucking, bottle use, and tongue thrusting can also push teeth into misalignment over time. Poor dental hygiene, facial injuries, and nutritional deficiencies can also lead to crooked or protruding teeth.
How Are Protruding or Crooked Teeth Treated?
One thing to keep in mind about crooked teeth or protruding teeth in children is that they’re often not worth correcting in baby teeth unless they’re causing notable discomfort, difficulties, or complications; the problem in many instances doesn’t carry over in the adult teeth. Braces or clear aligners are most often used to correct these conditions. Sometimes, underlying causes of dental crowding must be addressed with the use of devices like a palatal expander to widen the upper jaw, or a tooth may need to be pulled to create more space. In severe cases, or for patients who do not want to wear braces, surgery may be used to reposition bones and gums or realign the jaw.