An Overcrowded Mouth: The Causes and Dental Treatment Options

​Overlapping or crooked teeth are on the increase. The problem affects about one in five adults. The condition is known as malocclusion or dental crowding, and the dentists at Brighton Dental Suite deal with it every day. The good news is that there is plenty that can be done to fix dental crowding, giving you a smile you can be proud of and resolving the potential health issues associated with an overcrowded mouth. 

Dental Crowding Explained

Dental crowding happens when teeth overlap or are misaligned. Treating dental crowding is a routine procedure, but before we can start, it is important to understand both the type and severity of teeth crowding. This influences the type of treatment, as each case is different and is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Image of crowded teeth and overbite on patient in Brighton, QLD

Types of Malocclusion

The most common type of teeth crowding is in the lower jaw. Very few people have perfectly straight and even lower teeth. Often, malocclusion in the lower jaw is a genetic trait seen through multiple generations. It can also be caused or exacerbated by bad childhood habits such as thumb-sucking. Impact injuries can also affect the way that teeth erupt and grow. 

Crowding can also occur in the upper jaw. Anterior crowding affects the incisors, and as these are the middle teeth, this type of crowding is the most visibly obvious. While minor crowding is not necessarily a problem, moderate or severe crowding needs to be corrected, both to give you confidence in your smile and to ensure better oral health and easier dental hygiene.

 

Measuring Dental Crowding

When deciding on a treatment plan for malocclusion, it is as important to understand the severity of the overcrowded teeth as well as the type of dental overcrowding. Mild crowding might just need to be monitored, while moderate or severe cases might require orthodontic treatment for crowded teeth, such as Invisalign, or even extraction.

There are several different methods your dentist will use to measure dental crowding. These range from taking physical measurements with a ruler to precision 3-D modelling using the latest scanning technology. 

Causes of Dental Overcrowding

As we have already mentioned, teeth crowding is extremely common, becoming more common with every generation. Research suggests that this is a consequence of human evolution, as the average human face has become smaller with a slimmer jaw over recent centuries, while teeth have remained the same size. Malocclusion can also a hereditary trait. 

However, some external factors can cause crowded teeth. These include the following: 

  • Thumb sucking or dummy use in children aged three years and above
  • Impact accidents, such as sports injuries, falls or car accidents
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Jaw misalignment (prognathism)
  • Some allergies and asthmas
  • Diet

Relieving The Discomfort and Pain Caused by Teeth Crowding

People tend to think of teeth crowding as a cosmetic issue or perhaps one that makes it difficult to brush and floss effectively. But crowding can cause discomfort and pain when teeth place pressure on one another or affect jaw function. 

Sometimes, the pain manifests in a different part of the mouth to the apparent area of crowding, or in other cases; all the teeth feel sore and tender even when only two or three teeth are crowded. As time passes, the discomfort will only worsen, so it is best to speak to your dentist for crowded teeth advice as soon as you notice any symptoms. 

Treatments for Crowded Teeth

Different treatment options for dental crowding exist, depending on the type and severity. 

Almost everyone has minor malocclusions; in many cases, these will not affect your oral health or cause discomfort. However, if they are visible, you might still want to treat them for cosmetic purposes to improve your smile and boost your self-confidence. In this case, the dentist might recommend veneers or crowns. These will not change the alignment of your teeth or correct the malocclusions, but they provide a natural-looking solution for gaps and minor misalignment. Veneers or crowns are a good way to deal with chipped, uneven or discoloured teeth.

Moderate cases of dental crowding in adults can be quickly addressed using Invisalign clear aligners. These are less noticeable than traditional braces and can be taken out when you eat or if you need to stand up and make a speech. They are suitable for adults of all ages but not for children with crowded teeth.

Traditional metal braces remain the best choice for youngsters, and sometimes, they are a better option for adult patients, too. Your dentist will discuss the different alternatives to help you make an informed decision on the best treatment for crowded teeth in your case. 

Teeth Extractions and Crowded Teeth

One of the biggest concerns that patients have is whether they will need to have extractions for overcrowded teeth. Extraction is always a last resort; your dentist will avoid extracting teeth whenever possible. However, in severe cases, it might be necessary to extract one or more teeth to provide the required space for the other teeth to grow straight, giving you an even bite and a perfect smile.

If extraction is advised, the dentist will explain why and will go through all the options with you. The good news is that even if having one or more teeth extracted is necessary, it is a quick and painless process. Regardless of age, we put every patient’s comfort above all else, so if you feel nervous, just let us know. The recovery time for an extraction is short, and the end result will be well worth it.

There are many other health problems that people encounter thought-out their lives, if this is suitable for you, or if you have any questions please reach out to us.

Schedule an Appointment Today

We offer same-day visits and late opening hours that work around your schedule. Are your teeth crowded, making cleaning all of them difficult? Contact our team today to discuss having an X-ray to speak about your options. We’re providers with Medibank, HCF, and MDF. You can claim your health fund rebate on the spot with our HICAPS machine.

* Any invasive or surgical procedure may carry risks. Before moving forward, it is recommended that you seek a second opinion from an appropriately licensed medical professional.

FAQ Common Questions about Overcrowded Teeth

Can Overcrowded Teeth Be Fixed?

Yes, there are various treatment alternatives including orthodontic procedures such as Invisalign or purely cosmetic treatments like veneers. The most appropriate solution depends on the type and severity of the overcrowding.

Can Impacted Wisdom Teeth be Left Untreated?

In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may not cause any problems and may be able to be left untreated. However, if they are causing pain, infection, or tooth decay, they should be removed.

Do Crowded Teeth Get Worse?

Crowded bottom teeth tend to get worse with age. It is wise to get them treated sooner rather than later to resolve the overcrowding as simply as possible. 

Can I Ignore Overcrowded Teeth?

That depends on the severity. Minor overcrowding is mostly a cosmetic issue and is unlikely to have health implications. Moderate or severe overcrowding needs to be addressed as it can make it harder to clean teeth effectively. It can also cause pain and discomfort. 

Can You Fix Overcrowding Without Removing Teeth?

Minor overcrowding can usually be resolved without extracting any teeth. In more severe cases, one or more teeth might need to be extracted to make room. Every case is unique, and your dentist will offer advice on the most appropriate treatment for you. 

How Long Does It Take To Fix Overcrowded Teeth?

Cosmetic treatments such as veneers can be completed in as little as two visits. Orthodontic treatment takes longer. A course of Invisalign treatment typically takes approximately 12 months but can be more or less depending on the severity of the overcrowding.

Make an Appointment Today