What causes orthodontic problems?

Most orthodontic problems are inherited.  Examples of  these genetic problems are crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems.

Other malocclusions are acquired.  In other words, they develop over time.  they can be caused by thumb- or finger-sucking, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, the early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth, loss of permanent teeth, accidents, poor nutrition, or some medical problems.

Sometimes, an inherited malocclusion is complicated by an acquired problem.  But, whatever the cause, an orthodontist is usually able to treat most conditions successfully.

Why is treatment so important?

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain.  Such problems can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.  A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, excess stress on supporting bones and gum tissue, and possible jaw joint problems.

Then there's the emotional side of an unattractive smile.  When you're not confident in the way you look, your self-esteem suffers.  Children and adults whose malocclusions are left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their smiles with tight lips or a protective hand.

Finally, without treatment, many problems become worse.  Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop in later years.