Dr. and patient discuss crooked teeth

8 Common Causes of Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth are very common. In fact, nine out of ten people have teeth that are slightly misaligned or downright crooked.

In most cases, crooked teeth are merely a cosmetic issue. Sometimes, crooked teeth can even add charm to your smile. Crooked teeth may be a health hazard in some cases. Misaligned teeth are more difficult to brush and floss, for example, and this can lead to tooth decay, tooth and gum infections, and even tooth loss. Crooked teeth can affect the way you speak, smile, and eat. They can also cause psychological distress, as crooked teeth can significantly detract from the cosmetic appeal of your smile.

Why Do My Teeth Shift? 8 Most Common Causes of Crooked Teeth

Both baby teeth and permanent teeth can come in crooked, or something can push teeth out of alignment later. Fortunately, the dental professionals at Starling Orthodontics can treat crooked teeth kids and adults often experience.

Jaw size

The human jaw was once large and powerful enough to bite and chew raw vegetables, roots, nuts and meat. Our jaws were once large enough to accommodate all our teeth. The human jaw has shrunk over the course of millions of years, though, as a response to softer diet that requires less chewing. Many scientists believe that our shorter jaw may cause crowded, crooked teeth.

Behavioral habits

Repetitive behaviors, also known as myofunctional habits, can affect the alignment of your teeth. These habits include:

  • Thumb sucking - pulls the front teeth forward
  • Use of a pacifier or bottle
  • Tongue thrusting - placing the tongue in the wrong position during swallowing
  • Mouth breathing - breathing through the mouth allows the cheeks to push the teeth out of alignment

Poor jaw alignment

Your upper teeth should fit over your lower teeth. The points of your upper molars, which are the large flat teeth at the back of your mouth, should fit into the grooves of your lower molars when you bite down.

Malocclusion occurs when the top and bottom teeth do not meet properly. Common malocclusions include:

  • Underbite - bottom teeth protrude outwards in front of upper teeth
  • Overbite - upper teeth overlap the lower teeth
  • Crossbite - the upper teeth fit inside of the lower teeth
  • Overcrowding - not enough room on the jaw for all the teeth
  • Open bite - the upper and lower teeth do not come together


You can inherit crooked teeth from one or both of your parents. This is especially true if one or both of your parents has an underbite or overbite. You can also inherit certain characteristics that can lead to crooked teeth. These characteristics include extra teeth, abnormally large teeth, and misaligned jaws.

Poor dental care

Skipping routine dental care can lead to decayed and lost teeth, which can ultimately lead to crooked teeth. When you have all your teeth, there isn’t much from for your teeth to move. A lost tooth creates a gap, though, which the neighboring teeth can drift into.

Poor nutrition

A nutritious diet is essential for healthy teeth and gums. Poor nutrition puts teeth at risk for tooth decay and inadequate dental development, which can potentially lead to crooked teeth.


Trauma to the face can knock teeth out of alignment to cause crooked teeth. Facial trauma can cause the most severe cases of misaligned teeth.

Early loss of baby teeth

Baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. More specifically, the permanent teeth push the baby teeth out of the jaw. The early loss of baby teeth creates gaps that allow permanent teeth to come into the wrong spots on the jaw.

For more information on the common causes of crooked teeth, consult with our dentist at Starling Orthodontics. We can help you determine the underlying cause of your crooked teeth - we also offer a variety of teeth straightening solutions, including traditional braces and Invisalign. While you cannot always avoid crooked teeth, we can offer crooked teeth prevention tips. We are glad to help you choose orthodontist braces to help your smile be its best!

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