Common types of crooked teeth

Having crooked teeth is very common these days. However, there is a wide variety of crooked teeth that a person can have, all of which require specialized dental solutions to straighten. It is usually not enough to simply go for the best invisible braces on the market; you will also need to match them to your malocclusion (crooked teeth) type. There are six types of crooked teeth, including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and crowding. In this article, we will explain all of them, provide some information on what malocclusion is and what causes it, and show you how these teeth irregularities interfere with your oral health.

What is malocclusion?

The term “occlusion” refers to the alignment of your teeth, as well as how your lower and upper teeth bite together. Within normal occlusion, your upper teeth should fit just slightly over your lower teeth. This makes it so you have a more difficult time biting your lips, as well as having your tongue protected.

a person wearing braces to fix one of the types of crooked teeth
Braces are the most common form of treatment for malocclusions.

Now, malocclusion means that your teeth are not aligned properly. This can happen due to various reasons, but it is usually hereditary. If your ancestors have had crooked teeth, it is more likely that you will as well. Luckily, you can usually remedy any malocclusion simply by wearing traditional metal braces. While there are many other brace types on the market, metal braces work for most malocclusions, making them extremely versatile.

Other than being hereditary, malocclusion can also be caused by numerous other factors.

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What causes crooked teeth?

There are three different types of crooked teeth, usually referred to as Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Class 1 is the most common, as the bite is perfectly normal but with a slight overlap between the upper teeth and the lower teeth. Class 2 indicates a severe overlap, while Class 3 happens when the lower jaw juts or protrudes forward, creating a large overlap between the lower and upper teeth and jaw.

As mentioned previously, most malocclusions are hereditary. However, some activities or circumstances can help create malocclusions from perfectly normal teeth. For example, a simple childhood habit such as thrusting your tongue can lead to malocclusion. Sucking your thumb as a kid can also contribute to malocclusion, as can extra teeth, lost teeth, jaw misalignment, various jaw/mouth tumors, etc. Of course, poor oral hygiene, mouth breathing, and malnutrition can also increase the risk of crooked teeth.

Sometimes, malocclusion can be difficult to spot, and you may require a visit to the orthodontist’s office to realize that your teeth are not aligned properly. One of the qualities of a good orthodontist is that they can spot malocclusions “from a mile away” and allow for quicker and easier treatment. By figuring out that you have a crowded teeth issue early, your options for treating them will increase. However, the range of available options depends on the malocclusion type.

Different types of crooked teeth

There are six types of crooked teeth:

  • Underbite
  • Overbite
  • Crowding
  • Open bite
  • Crossbite
  • Spacing
teeth trying to bite metal wires
Crooked teeth come in many variations.

However, each type can have different levels of severity, requiring a specific approach for each one. Luckily, there are many different types of braces to take into consideration that provide a solution to any crooked teeth type/severity combination. That being said, it is usually unwise to order a set of braces before speaking with your orthodontist first. There may be other factors at play, after all, which may determine which brace type is best for your malocclusion.

Underbite

Underbite is a Class 3 malocclusion. It is characterized by the fact that your lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw. Otherwise known as prognathism, this malocclusion can cause a considerable amount of discomfort and pain.

There are several options when it comes to treating underbites, invisible braces being the most popular one. Children may be able to benefit from chin caps, expanders, and reverse face masks, while adults usually have to consider surgery alongside invisible braces for more serious misalignments. The surgery itself is a low-risk one, however, and healing usually takes anywhere between six and twelve weeks. For moderate to mild cases, simple tooth extraction may be all that it takes to correct an underbite. There are other options, as well, and we go in-depth about them in our underbite correction guide. In a nutshell, invisible braces such as Invisalign might be your best option if you qualify for them.

Overbite

As you might imagine, overbite is pretty much the same as underbite, but your upper jaw protrudes beyond the lower jaw. This malocclusion (also referred to as “buck teeth”) can lead to numerous health complications. An overbite that is not corrected in time can lead to breathing challenges, gum disease, speech issues, tooth decay, cavities, jaw pain, and more. Correcting an overbite is quite similar to correcting an underbite but there are a few subtle differences that we explained in our guide to overbite correction. An overbite can be hereditary but can develop due to other causes, as well. Excessive nail biting, thumb-sucking, and extensive pacifier usage (especially after the age of 3) can all create an overbite on their own.

a baby sucking their thumb
Thumb-sucking can cause an overbite.

Crowding

Teeth crowding occurs when your teeth size does not match the size of your jaw. This usually occurs when there is not enough room for the teeth to grow into their correct positions. Teeth crowding is a very common malocclusion, with around 30-60% of individuals having this very same problem. The best way to straighten crowded teeth and overcome your smile insecurities is to undergo an orthodontic brace treatment. Depending on the severity and a few other factors, you may qualify for Invisalign. But even if you don’t, there are other options that you can use to correct this malocclusion.

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Some of the problems that you may encounter due to crowded teeth include an aching jaw, trouble chewing, TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction), periodontal disease, and dental caries.

Open bite

The term “open bite” refers to a specific malocclusion that happens when your teeth are in misalignment when your jaws are closed. There are four primary factors (aside from hereditary ones, of course)┬áthat cause this type of crooked teeth: Thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, TMD, and skeletal problems. An open bite can oftentimes be remedied by a simple behavior modification, but more severe cases require wearing braces or surgery. The best course of action is usually to get the right braces for correcting an open bite. By doing so, not only will you correct an open bite, but you will also be able to take advantage of long term health benefits of braces. While open bite may not be one of the most dangerous malocclusions out there, it will cause unnecessary tooth wear and can create speech and eating issues. Lastly, there are aesthetic reasons to worry about.

Crossbite

Similar to an open bite, a crossbite also occurs when your teeth are not aligned properly when your mouth is closed. There are two possible variations: Posterior crossbite and anterior crossbite. Posterior crossbite occurs when your upper back teeth sit “inside” your bottom teeth, being slightly tilted toward the tongue. Anterior crossbite is much the same, just with your upper front teeth and lower front teeth, respectively. Many people confuse anterior crossbite with an underbite, and it may take an orthodontist to realize the exact malocclusion type.

dentist using diagnosing machinery to search for types of crooked teeth
Diagnosing a crossbite usually requires some help from a professional dentist.

There is a variety of things that can cause a crossbite, including cleft lip, mouth breathing, missing teeth, small jaw, etc. Furthermore, age can affect your dental health as well and contribute to this particular malocclusion. The best course of treatment for a crossbite is to spot it early and correct it as soon as possible. Braces, expanders, aligners, and myofunctional therapy can all be extremely efficient in dealing with various degrees of crossbites.

Spacing

Teeth spacing, also known as diastema, occurs when there are notable gaps between your teeth. These gaps can occur anywhere in the mouth but are most noticeable when they happen between the two upper front teeth. Spacing is almost always hereditary, as the condition is related to the size of the jawbone and teeth. However, you can develop teeth spacing through bad habits or incorrect swallowing reflexes. In some cases, teeth spacing can occur after gum disease.

The best way to treat this malocclusion type is with teeth braces. There are other procedures that you can utilize as well, such as veneers or bonding.

How do different types of crooked teeth cause oral health problems?

Many people consider crooked teeth to be purely an aesthetic hindrance. While this may be a good reason as any to straighten your teeth, it is far from being the only one. First of all, crooked teeth are much harder to clean than straight teeth. You simply can’t get to all the surfaces even if you brush and floss your teeth regularly. This leads to poor oral hygiene over a period of time. What’s worse, you may think that you are doing all that you can and be quite surprised when you form a cavity.

Furthermore, teeth being in the wrong place will cause greater wear and tear to the enamel of your teeth. Compromised enamel may then lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. It is also possible that you start grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw due to teeth misalignment. While this may serve to alleviate stress in the short term, what it actually does is cause even more enamel damage and intensify pain in the long run.

a young girl holding a tooth brush
Brushing your teeth is much harder if they are crooked.

And, of course, there’s the aesthetic factor. People with crooked teeth usually have lower self-esteem. This can, over time, turn into other mental health issues. It is not at all uncommon for a person to develop serious mental health problems just because they have crooked teeth.

Treatment options for crooked teeth

Since there are literally countless variations of crooked teeth (every case is unique), the treatment options are also quite varied. The primary treatment options include:

  • Braces
  • Aligners
  • Surgery
  • Tooth extraction
  • Asymmetrical teeth repair

Depending on your case, it may also be possible to simply change your behavior. If your malocclusion is happening due to an error on your part, it is usually possible to reverse it simply by not making the same mistake again. That being said, most people that have crooked teeth will require either braces or aligners.

Braces come in various shapes and sizes, from traditional metal braces to almost invisible modern options such as Invisalign. They work by pushing your teeth into alignment over a set period of time, usually several months. The more severe the case is, the longer the treatment duration. Some malocclusions may require an individual to wear braces for years before their teeth get into their proper positions.

Aligners, also known as retainers, work similarly to braces but can only help with mild to moderate malocclusions. More commonly, however, they are utilized after brace treatment and applied as the “final step”. Both braces and aligner treatments usually require in-person appointments with an orthodontist. However, there are some variants that allow teeth straightening without the need for in-person appointments, but they must be doctor-monitored as well.

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Final words

All types of crooked teeth require immediate reaction to minimize their effects. Therefore, it is best to visit your dentist regularly, as they can spot malocclusions while they are forming. That way, you will be able to minimize the treatment time and treatment cost.

For more information on malocclusions, invisible braces, invisible braces companies, and anything else you might want to know about oral health, refer to Consumer Opinion Guide. Our knowledge database is there to provide you with the answers to any teeth-related questions you might have!

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