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Temecula and Lake Elsinore - (951) 699-8011

Crowded Teeth

How to Fix Crowded Teeth

Crowded teeth are a common problem for children, teens, and adults. Fortunately, dental crowding (also known as overcrowding) can be fixed with orthodontic treatment from the doctors at Burke & Redford Orthodontists.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Levels of teeth crowding
  • Causes of teeth crowding
  • Problems caused by crowded teeth
  • Wisdom teeth crowding
  • Orthodontic treatment options for crowded teeth
crowded teeth
Crowded teeth can cause many oral health issues. Braces are recommended.

Levels of Teeth Crowding

Orthodontists determine the level of dental crowding in two different ways. The first method is to count how many teeth are affected by crowding and end up being rotated as a result. The second method is to subtract the sum of the total tooth widths from the width of the upper or lower jaw bone. This difference is measured in millimeters (mm).

Teeth crowding can be divided into three types:

  • Mild Teeth Crowding: 1 tooth is slightly rotated OR 1 mm to 3 mm crowding/space discrepancy
  • Moderate Teeth Crowding: 2 to 3 teeth overlap in the upper and lower jaws OR a 4 mm to 8 mm crowding/space discrepancy
  • Severe Teeth Crowding: Most of the teeth in the upper and lower jaw overlap OR a crowding/space discrepancy that is greater than 8 mm.

Causes of Crowded Teeth

A variety of different factors can cause teeth crowding. Some causes are genetic in nature, while others are caused by development issues.

Some common causes of teeth crowding include:

  • Hereditary factors such as a small jaw, misaligned jaw, or a cleft lip or palate
  • Teeth that are larger than the jaw can accommodate
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth—both of which can affect how adult teeth erupt
  • Extra adult teeth (called supernumerary teeth)

In addition, many people develop dental crowding as they age (particularly crowded bottom teeth) due to mesial drift. Mesial drift is the term used to describe the teeth’s tendency to move toward the front of the mouth. Teeth continuing to move during the adult years—even with adults who have had orthodontic treatment in the past—highlights the importance of wearing a retainer after orthodontic treatment.

Retainers keep teeth in the proper position after braces treatment.

Wisdom Teeth Crowding: Fact and Fiction

Many people mistakenly believe that the arrival of wisdom teeth results in their teeth becoming crowded. This erroneous belief assumes that the eruption of the wisdom teeth causes the front teeth to become more crowded by pushing them forward.

However, research has demonstrated that wisdom teeth eruption does not necessarily lead to teeth crowding. Yet there are still many valid reasons for wisdom teeth to be removed, including the difficulty of cleaning wisdom teeth, tooth decay, gum inflammation, and impactions that may damage the surrounding jaw structure.

Problems Caused by Teeth Crowding

Crowded teeth can lead to a variety of different problems, such as:

  • Cavities (as crooked/rotated teeth are difficult to clean)
  • Gum disease
  • Chewing or biting difficulties
  • Embarrassment or sensitivity about one’s smile

Crowded Teeth Treatment

Treatment for crowded teeth will depend on the severity of the crowding, the age of the patient, and whether a patient has other orthodontic issues that need to be addressed. At Burke and Redford Orthodontists, we offer a free orthodontic consultation that allows Dr. Redford and Dr. Burke to conduct a thorough clinical examination and provide individualized recommendations about the most appropriate treatment option.

top orthodontist for children - kids braces - child braces
Before and After Braces Treatment.

Extractions and Crowded Teeth

In some cases, extracting a tooth is the best option for addressing teeth crowding or bite issues. However, our patients can rest assured that our office believes tooth extractions are a last resort. Our experienced orthodontists will only recommend an extraction when it is in the patient’s best interests and the resulting benefits are clear.

In the event our doctors believe a tooth extraction is the best option, we will refer patients to their highly qualified dentist or oral surgeon for the procedure. These dental professionals will ensure removal of the tooth is comfortable and results in minimal discomfort. Our experience is that only a small minority of orthodontic patients (approximately 10% to 20%) will need a tooth extraction.

Palatal Expanders and Crowded Teeth

In younger patients whose jaw has not yet finished developing, our doctors can make space in the mouth by widening the jaw with a palatal expander. These devices slowly and gently widen the jaw to provide additional room for teeth to erupt—thereby preventing or resolving teeth crowding issues that are present.

Braces for Crowded Teeth

Braces are the most common option for treating crowded teeth. Not only do braces allow our doctors to correct a crooked smile, but they also enable them to align the bite. For many patients (particularly children and adolescents), braces are the orthodontic treatment of choice.

Burke and Redford Orthodontists offer our patients a choice of different types of braces, depending on their orthodontic treatment needs and personal preferences. Two of the available options are described in more detail below.

  • Metal Braces. Our doctors use the most effective self-ligating braces available on the market today. Self-ligating braces use special doors (called clips) to secure the archwire instead of traditional ligatures (the elastic ties that go around each bracket). This means that modern metal braces allow for shorter adjustment times. Our office offers Damon System Braces and In-Ovation braces.
  • Clear Ceramic Braces. If patients do not want the look of metal braces, our offices located in Temecula and Lake Elsinore offer clear ceramic braces, which are less noticeable than metal. The brackets are made of ceramic (also known as “clear brackets”) and blend into the teeth—especially when used with white-coated wires and clear elastics. Other than the color, clear ceramic braces function the same as the metal versions.
Does Invisalign Work for Crowded Teeth?

Depending on the severity of the crowding and other orthodontic issues that may be present, Invisalign may be an option for patients seeking to address crowded teeth. Invisalign, which has skyrocketed in popularity since it was first introduced in 2000, uses a series of clear aligners to move and straighten teeth and align bites.

Schedule a Free Orthodontic Consultation to Find Out if Your Crowded Teeth Treatment Will Work Best with Braces or Invisalign.

Invisalign offers several benefits to patients, including:

  • Easier to brush and floss because the aligners are removable
  • No food restrictions because the aligners can be taken out when eating
  • Less noticeable than braces

Invisalign trays must be worn for at least 20 to 22 hours every day to be effective. For younger patients, this may be challenging. Our office offers Invisalign Teen for those who pledge to be cooperative with wearing their aligners as instructed.

Burke & Redford Orthodontists have been shaping beautiful smiles in Riverside County since 1991 and has amassed hundreds of 5-star reviews from satisfied patients. To schedule an appointment for a free consultation with Dr. Redford or Dr. Burke at our Lake Elsinore or Temecula office to discuss crowded teeth treatment, call (951) 699-8011 or fill out the Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation form on our website.

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