Skip to Content

What is best for crowding teeth?

Crowded or crooked teeth are a common problem that affects many people. Teeth can become crowded for various reasons, including insufficient jawbone, lost teeth, or abnormal growth. Crowding occurs when there is not enough room in the jaws for all the teeth to fit normally. This can cause the teeth to twist or push against each other. Crowded teeth not only look unsightly, but can also lead to a variety of oral health problems. Treatment is often required to correct crowding and create enough space for the teeth to fit properly. There are several effective options to fix crowded teeth depending on the severity of the problem.

What Causes Crowded Teeth?

There are a few potential causes of crowded teeth:

  • Jaw Size Mismatch – The jawbones may be too small for the size of the teeth. This is often an inherited trait.
  • Lost Teeth – Losing teeth without replacing them allows remaining teeth to shift and crowd together.
  • Blocked-out Teeth – Sometimes extra teeth develop but get stuck and remain trapped below the gums.
  • Abnormal Tooth Development – Teeth may be unusually shaped or sized.

Genetics play a big role in crowded teeth. However, thumb sucking or tongue thrusting habits can also push teeth out of place. Impact injuries, tooth decay, and gum disease may result in tooth loss and crowding. Even wisdom teeth coming in can cause back teeth to shift forward.

Problems Caused by Crowded Teeth

While crowded teeth may primarily pose cosmetic concerns, they can lead to oral health issues including:

  • Tooth decay – Crowding makes plaque removal difficult resulting in more cavities.
  • Gum disease – Excess plaque and calculus also irritate gums leading to gingivitis.
  • Chewing and speech difficulty – Misaligned teeth interfere with proper chewing and speaking.
  • Tooth grinding – Crowding causes abnormal bite alignment that can cause tooth grinding (bruxism).
  • Tooth injury – Protruding teeth are more prone to chipping and fractures.
  • Digestive problems – Improper chewing hinders digestion.

Crowded teeth or a bad bite (malocclusion) puts added pressure on the jaw joints. This can result in temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD) like pain, headaches, and sore jaws.

When to Seek Treatment for Crowded Teeth

It is advisable to get an orthodontic evaluation by age 7 to identify potential problems with jaw growth or emerging teeth while the permanent teeth are still developing below the gums. Early treatment is simpler, shorter, and may prevent more extensive treatment later.

Adults often seek orthodontic treatment to correct long-standing dental crowding. However, it is important to get crowded teeth evaluated at any age, because alignment problems can worsen over time leading to broken or lost teeth. Difficulty biting, chewing, or speaking are signs that it is time to seek orthodontic treatment.

Treatment Options for Crowded Teeth

Orthodontic treatment aims to create room for crowded teeth by influencing jaw growth, extracting teeth, or making more space along the dental ridge. Here are some of the most common appliances used:

Dental Braces

Braces use a metal wire threaded through fixed brackets that are bonded to each tooth. The orthodontist adjusts the wires and elastic ties to gradually shift the teeth into better positions. Braces utilize steady pressure to reposition teeth correctly, incorporating headgear or elastics if needed. Modern advances like self-ligating brackets, lingual braces, and clear aligners allow more aesthetic and comfortable treatment.

Clear Aligners

Custom-made clear plastic trays are an alternative to braces for mild or moderate crowding. Each aligner moves the teeth a small amount over the course of the treatment plan until the desired results are achieved. Aligners are removable to allow normal brushing and flossing. Brands like Invisalign offer computer imaging to show the final outcomes.

Headgear and Facemask Treatment

These appliances are typically used to correct jaw growth issues in children that contribute to crowding. Headgear worn outside the mouth provides gentle pressure to guide the growth of the upper jaw. Facemasks work similarly for the lower jaw. Both appliances help create room for crowded teeth by supporting proper jaw development.

Palatal Expanders

Expanders enlarge the upper jaw so that there is more room for the other teeth. Expanders are often used before braces to address narrowupper jaw issues. The orthodontist places a fixed or removable appliance that gradually widens the roof of the mouth. This opens up space between the upper teeth.

Tooth Extraction

Extracting overcrowded, impacted, or supernumerary teeth is sometimes necessary to alleviate crowding. Removing one or more permanent teeth provides space for the remaining teeth to shift into alignment. This approach is carefully planned to prevent bite problems. The orthodontist strives to extract wisely, often premolars with multiples, to minimize negative effects.

Tooth Restructuring

Reshaping teeth through dental contouring or enamel reduction may help relieve minor crowding. This conservative method removes a small amount of enamel from the mesial and distal sides of certain teeth to create space. Veneers or bonding may follow restructuring to restore shape and appearance. This minimally invasive approach works best for mild crowding.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

The length of orthodontic treatment depends on factors like the severity of crowding, methods used, and cooperation with treatment. Mild or moderate crowding can often be corrected within 12 to 24 months. More complex cases involving jaw misalignment or surgical procedures may take up to 3 years. Following the orthodontist’s recommendations can help reduce overall treatment time.

Cost of Correcting Crowded Teeth

The cost of crowded teeth treatment varies based on location, provider training, and individual circumstances. According to national averages, options may cost:

  • Metal braces – $3,000 – $7,500
  • Ceramic braces – $4,000 – $8,500
  • Clear aligners – $3,500 – $8,000
  • Palatal expanders – $500 – $3,000
  • Tooth extraction – $75 – $300 per tooth

Many dental insurance plans cover a portion of orthodontic treatment. Payment plans and financing options are also available to help manage costs.

Best Age for Corrective Treatment

While people of any age can benefit from orthodontic treatment, certain age groups respond more rapidly and effectively.

  • Early childhood – Age 6-9 for jaw growth guidance.
  • Late childhood – Age 9-12 for emerging permanent teeth.
  • Early teenage years – While facial growth is still active.
  • Adulthood – Any time for improved health and aesthetics.

Starting orthodontic treatment at a young age allows the orthodontist to take advantage of the growing jaws and developing teeth for faster results. However, adults seeking improvement in function, aesthetics, or quality of life can also achieve successful outcomes.

Preventing Crowded Teeth

Although heredity plays a role in crowded teeth, there are some proactive steps that can facilitate proper dental alignment and prevent worsening:

  • Early orthodontic evaluation and monitoring
  • Prompt treatment of lost primary teeth
  • Maintaining space for erupting permanent teeth
  • Wisdom tooth assessment and management
  • Correction of harmful oral habits
  • A diet with crunchy fruits and vegetables

Seeking orthodontic advice early allows for timely intervention to address developing problems. Ongoing dental care and oral hygiene minimize disease, premature tooth loss, and unnecessary extractions that contribute to crowding. Nutritious food choices even affect jaw growth and dental arch width.

Benefits of Correcting Crowded Teeth

Some of the advantages of fixing alignment problems include:

  • Improved oral hygiene – Straighter teeth are easier to clean.
  • Decreased decay and gum disease – Allows better plaque removal.
  • Better function – Allows optimal biting and chewing.
  • Balanced facial appearance – Corrects jaw and tooth disproportion.
  • Increased confidence – Enhances smile aesthetics and appeal.
  • TMJ/TMD relief – Corrects poor bite alignment that strains jaw joints.
  • Tooth and bone support – Proper alignment strengthens the periodontium.

Orthodontic treatment not only creates an attractive smile, but promotes good oral health. Alleviating crowding facilitates cleaning between teeth and accessing all tooth surfaces. The corrected bite also lowers the risks of problems like tooth wear, fractures, and TMD.

Risks of Avoiding Treatment

Declining orthodontic treatment for crowded teeth can negatively impact long-term dental health:

  • Progressive worsening of crowding
  • Increased fractures and tooth loss
  • Continued chewing difficulty
  • Damage to tooth enamel
  • Receding gums and bone loss
  • Higher incidence of decay and gum disease
  • Jaw joint dysfunction
  • Abnormal wear of tooth surfaces

Without treatment, crooked teeth are likely to become more misaligned over time. Spacing issues worsen and lead to further complications. Allowing children’s malocclusion to go untreated can seriously affect social development. Seeking orthodontic care is recommended to prevent these problems.


Crowded teeth are a common problem that affects oral health as well as self-image. Typical causes include genetics, lost teeth, obstructed growth, or abnormal development. Crowding can lead to a variety of functional and aesthetic issues. Orthodontic treatment is recommended to guide jaw growth, make space, and properly align teeth.

Options for correcting crowding include dental braces, clear aligners, palatal expanders, and sometimes tooth removal. Treatment times vary based on the methods used and complexity of the case. While costs can range widely based on location and individual factors, orthodontic correction offers substantial benefits in terms of oral health, function, and aesthetics.

Seeking evaluation and treatment in the early childhood to teenage years allows orthodontists to intervene at optimal times for correcting crowding. However, adults can also achieve successful improvement in tooth alignment, bite, and smile appearance. Allowing dental crowding to persist untreated results in worsening problems over time. Addressing alignment issues provides both health benefits and improved smile aesthetics.