How Can Crooked Teeth Impact Your Health?
There are many reasons why teeth can be crooked, but the true question is why does this matter? Well, it matters quite a bit. Having crooked teeth can impact your overall health and can affect your quality of life. Most people are not born with crooked teeth, they are acquired; unless there is some sort of a genetic anomaly a person was born with.
Why Do You Get Crooked Teeth?
Teeth can be crooked for a variety of different reasons such as:
- Mouth breathing: a mouth breathing individual will always carry their tongue low and forward on the floor of the mouth; hence placing extra unnecessary pressure onto the dentition (teeth) during rest, speech and swallowing. This extra abnormal pressure will then further contribute to malocclusions or crooked teeth.
- Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids: having enlarged tonsils will push the tongue forward and not allow it to properly rest in the oral cavity; hence adding extra abnormal pressure against the teeth. Remember we swallow over 1,000 times a day consciously and subconsciously with up to 6 pounds worth of pressure, it is no surprise that the force of the tongue pressing up against the teeth will contribute to crooked teeth. Not to mention, having enlarged tonsils can also compromise your airway and more. Enlarged adenoids on the other hand, can contribute to habitual mouth breathing (which also leads to crooked teeth as previously mentioned) as having enlarged adenoids can lead to trouble breathing through the nose. Oftentimes a person with enlarged adenoids will sound as if their nose is pinched during speech.
- Airway problems- crooked teeth can also be a sign of something much greater than just aesthetic problems, it can be a sign of an airway problem such as obstructive sleep apnea. In such a case a good question to ask oneself is what came first? Did the airway problem contribute to the crooked teeth or did the crooked teeth contribute to the airway problem? This is like the chicken or the egg type of situation, which should be further evaluated.
- Suffering a hit to the mouth: getting hit in the face can make your teeth shift in your mouth; in particular when they are first being developed during those formative years. Therefore, the use of a mouth guard during sport activities is essential in order to avoid trauma to the teeth.
- Congenital abnormalities: congenital abnormalities, such as being born with missing teeth or with a restricted frenum, may also further contribute to crooked teeth. Being born with congenitally missing teeth, will create spaces in between the teeth. Over time, these spaces can force the adjacent teeth to shift, as there will be a lack of support from the adjacent structures. Having these extra spaces in between the teeth may also contribute to speech discrepancies among others; and oftentimes, a whistling sound may be observed during speech.
- Restricted Frenum: Having a restricted Frenum may also further contribute to crooked teeth. A Frenum is a short band of tissue that either supports or restricts the movement of a part or organ, such as the small band of tissue on the underside of your tongue. There are seven frenums located in the oral cavity. In the event that one of these frenums is restricted, spaces may be noted in between teeth; which may contribute to shifting of the teeth down the road, gum regression (when the gums pull away from the teeth- this may lead to loose and sensitive teeth if unaddressed), and many health related problems. To learn more about how restricted frenums can impact your health, Click here. It is of utmost importance that all frenums be properly evaluated, as these restrictions can play a major role in the swallowing pattern. In the event that there is a restricted lingual frenum (short band of tissue on the underside of the tongue), the tongue will be unable to move freely during speech and including swallowing. When the lingual frenum is restricted, the tongue will be forced to sit low and forward on the floor of the mouth; hence contributing to a low tongue resting posture. The inability of the tongue to be able to make proper contact with the roof of the mouth, will further contribute to a high vaulted palate or a collapsed palate. Having a high vaulted palate can have its own repercussions on a person’s health, and can also contribute to crooked teeth; as the tongue fails to provide proper support by not being able to properly rest on the roof of the mouth where it should be. To learn more about the tongue and how it can impact your health click here.
How Can Crooked Teeth Impact Your Health?
Having crooked teeth can have several consequences associated with them. Some of which include but are not limited to:
- Periodontal disease
- Airway problems
- Speech problems
Periodontal Disease And Crooked Teeth
According to perio.org, Periodontal disease or gum disease, is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria. In the more serious form of periodontal disease called periodontitis, the gums pull away from the tooth and supporting gum tissues are destroyed. Bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or eventually fall out.(1)
As stated in the literature, periodontal disease can affect your entire body and create havoc to your overall health if not addressed. Having crooked teeth can increase your chances of acquiring periodontal disease, as having crooked teeth will make it more difficult to cleanse the oral cavity. During brushing and flossing, a person who has crooked teeth should make sure to cleanse their teeth adequately. An electric toothbrush can help do the trick, but brushing in itself does not replace flossing. When flossing, it is necessary to make sure that you are making a “c” shape in between each tooth in order to properly remove food particles and bacteria in between the teeth. Lastly, a good thorough rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash can also help cut down on the bacterial load in the oral cavity.
Crooked Teeth And Airway Problems
Airway problems have been linked to crooked teeth, but it’s not just the crooked teeth that are the problem. The true issue here is what initially led to the crooked teeth. As previously mentioned, there are various factors that can contribute to crooked teeth, therefore, it is essential to investigate the root cause.
Crooked teeth are not normally a sign of health, and as such should be addressed accordingly. In most cases of crooked teeth, the jaws may appear smaller compromising the airway space. Reason being, when teeth are crowded, they can decrease the jaw size, making it more difficult for the tongue to fit properly in the mouth. Oftentimes, I’ve had patients mention to me that their “tongue feels too big for their mouth”. But in reality, it’s not usually the tongue size, the truth of the matter is that because there is crowding present, the jaws may be decreased in size and the tongue gets crammed into the mouth and may also contribute to airway obstruction.
Crooked Teeth And Speech Problems
Speech Problems may also be associated with crooked teeth. Having crooked teeth can contribute to changes in speech, as the tongue has a limited area to move in. The Tongue needs to be able to move freely in order to make certain sounds. Therefore, in the presence of crooked teeth, the tongue will have far less room to move around in order to create certain sounds; hence leading to a slur or even a lisp especially if there are spaces in between the teeth.
Having crooked teeth can be more than just an esthetic problem, it can be a sign of something far greater than looks. Therefore, it is essential for the dental professional to further investigate the underlying issues that may be associated with having crooked teeth. For more information check out the AOMT or IAOM.
- American Heritage Medical Dictionary
- Levrini, Luca, et al. “Model of Oronasal Rehabilitation in Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome Undergoing Rapid Maxillary Expansion: Research Review.” Sleep Science, vol. 7, no. 4, 2014, pp. 225–233., doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2014.11.002.
- Ruoff, Chad M., and Christian Guilleminault. “Orthodontics and Sleep-Disordered Breathing.” Sleep and Breathing, vol. 16, no. 2, 2011, pp. 271–273., doi:10.1007/s11325-011-0534-9.