IF BABY TEETH almost always grow in straight, then why are adult teeth so often crooked? What is it, if not just bad luck? There are competing theories, but adult teeth can come in crooked for a variety of reasons, from genetics to diet to daily habits.
Shifts In Society’s Diet…And Its Teeth?
One popular theory that comes from archeological studies is the Soft Foods Theory. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate much tougher foods than we do now, and this promoted more bone growth in the jaws and better-aligned teeth as a result. The theory suggests two possible reasons why modern people more often have crooked teeth:
- Modern food is processed and soft, so it doesn’t stimulate as much jaw bone growth.
- Modern food lacks many of the vitamins and minerals a hunter/gatherer diet would have been rich in, so the teeth and jaws can’t develop as much.
For more details on the Soft Foods Theory, check out this short video:
Braces Run In The Family
Even if you managed to eat tough foods for long enough to grow the jaw bones of a hunter/gatherer, you still wouldn’t be able to control what genes you inherited from your parents. If your parents didn’t need braces but you got Mom’s small jaw and Dad’s large teeth, you’ll end up with a crowding problem. Many children whose parents needed braces will also need braces.
Daily Habits Can Shift Your Teeth
While we have no say in our genes and would probably have a difficult time successfully sticking to a hunter/gatherer diet, the one cause of crooked teeth we might be able to control is our everyday habits. Something as simple as resting your chin on your hands can cause your teeth to shift over time, but these are the main offenders:
Thumb-sucking, when it continues past toddlerhood, can cause the upper teeth to flare out and shift the lower teeth inward, creating a badly misaligned bite, changing the shape of the jaw, and even affecting speech. If you’re looking for ways to discourage your child’s thumb-sucking habit, check out this resource.
Mouth-breathing, particularly during developmental years, can lead to dental crowding over time. Normally, when the mouth is closed, the tongue exerts pressure against the sides of the jaw, helping it develop in a healthy, wide shape. If the mouth is always open for breathing, this pressure isn’t there, and the jaw narrows, crowding the teeth.
Tongue-thrusting is the name of an incorrect or immature way of swallowing in which the tongue presses against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. Babies naturally start out with this reflex, but it doesn’t always go away when it should, leading to dental alignment problems. This can be a difficult reflex to unlearn as a teen or adult, but there are special orthodontic appliances designed to encourage better swallowing habits.
Whatever The Cause, We’re The Solution!
Whether teeth teeth are crooked due to genetics, a modern diet, or these kinds of unhealthy habits during childhood, the solution is the same: orthodontic treatment. If you haven’t already, schedule a consultation with us so that we can make a plan for getting you the perfectly aligned smile you deserve!
Thank you for trusting us with your teeth! We love helping you look your best!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.