What Causes Crooked Teeth?
Did you know, 3 out of 4 children have crowded teeth and incorrectly developing jaws. These problems can be seen from as early as 5 years of age.
Modern research has shown that crowded teeth, incorrect jaw development and other orthodontic problems are not caused by big teeth in small jaws or hereditary factors. Mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and thumb sucking (known as incorrect myofunctional habits) are the real causes. Allergies, asthma and an open mouth posture also contribute to incorrect jaw development.
Growing up, most of us have had one or more of these myofunctional problems, which may have been the cause of incorrect dental and facial development. Just getting braces, with or without extractions, does not address the underlying causes of crooked teeth. This is why once the braces are removed, the teeth usually crowd up again, unless poor oral habits are corrected. This is why treatment with braces alone commonly results in the need for life-long retainers.
The Causes of Crooked Teeth – Soft Tissue Dysfunction
A normal upper jaw forms because the tongue rests in the area between the upper teeth, where it counteracts the pressure of the cheeks which would otherwise push your teeth inwards and create a narrow jaw with crooked teeth.
If the tongue and lips are not functioning correctly, crowded teeth and underdeveloped jaws are the result. These poor oral habits are known as incorrect myofunctional habits. If the function and jaw shape are correct, there is usually plenty of room for the teeth. A Child’s jaws and face naturally grow downwards and forwards.
The jaws are constantly reshaped and influenced by the surrounding muscles of the face. If these muscles are functioning correctly and the tongue is in the correct position, with the mouth closed most of the time, then the growth will achieve full genetic potential. Reverse swallowing and mouth breathing can restrict the forward growth of the jaws and face.
The shadowing on the image (right) shows how much growth potential is lost as a result of these poor myofunctional habits during the growing years. This results in insufficient space for the front and back teeth – including the wisdom teeth. Correction of these myofunctional habits allow the teeth, jaws and face to reach full genetic potential, and the teeth to move into their correct position naturally.