New orthodontic patients often wonder whether their crooked teeth are hereditary. Parents may even wonder if their children will inherit their orthodontic health issues when budgeting for their future.
Whatever the reason, it’s valid to wonder how much genetics affect your and your children’s oral health. In most cases, a definitive diagnosis based on family history is unlikely. Yet, by reviewing the information below, you may be able to predict whether bad teeth really do just “run in your family.”
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What Genetic Factors Change Your Teeth?
Several factors influence how hereditary plays a role in your oral development. Your jaw size is one of these factors. Since a small or large jaw changes how much room your teeth have to grow, the wrong jaw size can cause your teeth to come in crooked, crowded, or too far apart.
But why do these changes happen? Interestingly, animals usually do not have crooked teeth. Neither did our ancient ancestors. This suggests that genetic lines, conditioned by changes in diet, have led to the increasing prevalence of crooked teeth in modern people.
One theory suggests that the prevalence of baby formulas has led to different muscles being used to feed in infancy, causing physical changes that are more likely to result in crooked teeth. Another theory states that the development of processed foods around the Industrial Revolution led jaw strength to become less important, leading to more people with jaws that are too small.
These are only theories, but the result is that crooked teeth and the oral health problems they create are more prevalent now than at any other time in history.
What Other Factors Can Make Your Teeth Crooked?
Crooked teeth occur due to factors other than genetics, many of them resulting from our habits as infants. Since oral structures like our jaw and palette are still developing at that age, repetitive physical habits can cause them to develop incorrectly (this is also why children often need to wear braces for less time than adults).
Some common childhood habits that can result in crooked teeth include:
- Excessive thumb-sucking, either too hard or for too many years, which can cause the palette to become narrow
- Tongue-thrusting, which means pushing the tongue repeatedly into the front teeth, which can cause them to push outward
- Using a pacifier for too long, which can do the same damage as thumb-sucking
- Breathing or resting with the mouth open, often a result of allergies or asthma
- Jaw tumors, which can cause unwanted developmental changes
These habits result in jaw growth that cannot support full arches of straight teeth. Teeth that would otherwise have come in normally end up crooked due to a lack of space.
In addition to crookedness, other issues can result from these habits. For instance, repeated tongue-thrusting is a known cause of open bite, a condition where the teeth do not align when the mouth is closed. Habitual mouth-breathing causes the tongue to rest against the teeth rather than the roof of the mouth, resulting in similar issues.
Why Crooked Teeth Should Be Fixed
You may be wondering why crooked teeth need to be fixed. Regardless of what caused them, crooked teeth are more than a cosmetic issue. Crooked teeth can raise a person’s chance of developing tooth decay because crowding makes teeth more difficult to clean.
If your toothbrush and floss have trouble reaching the nooks in your crooked teeth, you are more likely to have cavities, plaque formation, and eventual tooth loss. In addition, bite issues resulting from crooked teeth create an uneven distribution of force every time you bite or chew. Over time, this can result in TMJ disorders, jaw pain, and even cracked teeth.
If you’re a new parent, consider the list of behaviors above as a cautionary checklist, which will hopefully help you instill behaviors in your kids to help their teeth grow as straight as possible. Not all factors can be changed since genetics play a part, but catching these habits early can give you a better chance of not needing orthodontic treatment later. If you think the changes have already started, consult an orthodontist to learn what you can do to steer your kids in a straighter direction.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.