Are crooked teeth hereditary? Adults with crooked teeth often wonder whether their parents or genes are to blame or whether there's something they did that resulted in crooked teeth. Perhaps you're planning a family and wondering if there's anything you can do to give your kids a better chance at beautiful, straight teeth. As it turns out, there are several factors that can contribute to crooked teeth.

Crooked Teeth: Genetic Factors

According to research, genetic predisposition may be a factor when it comes to crooked teeth, but it depends on how far back you go. Bone structure, abnormally large teeth, and having extra teeth (known as hyperdontia) are inherited from preceding generations. But if you go back far enough, all of our ancestors had straight teeth.

Dietary Clues

In the 1930s, Canadian dentist Weston A Price studied groups of people around the world and found that those who ate a primitive diet had larger jaws and straight teeth. It may be that the harder texture of primitive foods stimulated the optimal development of the jaw. It’s also possible that the primitive foods contained higher levels of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K.

Bottle vs Breast

In the late 1940s, German dental experts Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Balters and Dr. med. dent. Adolf Muller found that children who had been breastfed had significantly fewer crooked teeth than children who had been bottle-fed. Bottle-fed children tended to suck their thumbs or suck on rolled-up cloths to satisfy their sucking reflex, which may have contributed to their crooked teeth. In response to their discoveries, the pair created the first asymmetrical “breast-like” teat made by NUK, Germany, which is still used in NUK teats and pacifiers today.

Other Factors That Can Lead to Crooked Teeth

Aside from a lack of vitamins, non-ergonomic baby bottle teats, and thumb sucking,

there are several other situations that can lead to crooked teeth:

  • Tongue ties. Tongue ties affect the growth of the lower jaw and prevent the upper jaw from receiving sufficient tongue stimulation. This can cause crooked teeth.

  • Early baby tooth loss. Losing baby teeth early can lead to other teeth moving into the gap and the permanent teeth emerging crooked.

  • Tongue thrusting. Tongue thrusting, also called reverse swallowing, happens when your tongue pushes forward when you swallow instead of pressing against the roof of your mouth. This can contribute to crooked teeth.

  • Mouth breathing. Mouth breathing, especially in children, can cause the tongue to rest behind the bottom teeth instead of on the roof of the mouth and lead to an underdeveloped upper and lower jaw.

  • Oral cancer. Tumors due to oral cancer can cause crooked teeth. While predisposition to oral cancer can be genetic, quitting alcohol and tobacco can lower one’s risk of developing oral cancer.

  • Poor oral hygiene. Gum disease from poor oral hygiene can lead to oral health problems including gum recession, tooth decay, and ultimately tooth loss. Other teeth may shift into the space left by the missing tooth, leading to misaligned teeth.

  • Trauma. Teeth lost to trauma, such as a sports accident, can cause other teeth to shift out of place and become crooked.

What Can Be Done About Crooked Teeth

Whether your crooked teeth are hereditary or are a result of malnutrition, periodontal disease, a tongue tie, early habits, or trauma, there are several ways that cosmetic dentistry can help with straightening teeth and improving your dental health:

  • Invisalign. Invisalign is a method for straightening teeth that uses a series of clear plastic aligners instead of traditional metal braces. This treatment is ideal for people with slightly crooked teeth and for correcting an overbite—when the upper teeth slightly overlap with the bottom teeth.

  • Porcelain fillings. Porcelain fillings can be used to fill dental caries and prevent tooth loss, which in turn, helps to prevent other teeth from shifting and becoming crooked.

  • Dental implants. If you do have missing teeth due to tooth decay or trauma, dental implants can be attached in their place to maintain a healthy jaw structure and prevent other teeth from shifting out of place.

  • Porcelain veneers. For teeth that are only slightly crooked and don't interfere with oral health, porcelain veneers can create the appearance of straight teeth almost instantly, boosting your confidence and improving your smile.

Preventing and Treating Crooked Teeth

If your goal is to help your children’s teeth develop naturally straight, the best things you can do are:

  • Maintain a nourishing diet that's rich in bone-healthy vitamins and minerals before and during pregnancy and while your children grow.

  • Choose a jaw-friendly early feeding method such as breastfeeding or bottle-feeding with a jaw-friendly asymmetrical teat.

  • Include (healthy) crunchy and chewy foods in your children’s diet to stimulate optimal jaw development.

  • Pay attention to issues like tongue ties, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, and early baby tooth loss, and have them treated as soon as you can.

  • Teach your children good oral hygiene and take them to the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning to prevent cavities and tooth loss.

If you already have crooked or crowded teeth, protruding teeth, canted teeth, or other dental problems, the best thing to do is see an experienced Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist for an assessment and an appropriate treatment plan. 

Whether your crooked teeth are hereditary or are the result of malnutrition or unhelpful habits, straightening your teeth now can boost your confidence and make it easier to look after your dental health—keeping your smile healthy long into the future. 

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