Crooked teeth are a common issue among young and old people. This can be due to many reasons. Though this may not be a serious issue, it might still impact your oral health. And in the long run, may cause other serious dental issues like tooth loss.
In this article, I will share significant and relevant information about crooked teeth, their causes, impacts, and remedies. You’ll also learn how important it is to achieve straight and perfectly aligned teeth even in your senior years.
Why Do Teeth Get Crooked As We Age?
Crooked teeth can be caused by the same reasons as tooth loss. According to Colgate, there are common reasons why our teeth get crooked as we age. These include:
- Genetics/Heredity - If you try to look at your family history and find that some members of the family have crooked, overcrowded, and misaligned jaws, then it’s most probably the reason why. Conditions like underbite and overbite can also be inherited from your parents or other family members.
- Poor nutrition - We get the nutrients our body needs through the food that we eat to keep our bones and muscles strong. Not taking enough nutrients can contribute to misaligned teeth and jaw. In severe cases, malnutrition can cause swelling in the gums and weakening of teeth causing tooth loss and decay.
- Poor oral hygiene - Not practicing proper oral hygiene may result in a gum disease known as gingivitis. If not treated, this condition will worsen in such a way that your teeth may become crooked and loose.
- History of injuries - injuries in the face caused by being hit can also cause misalignment of the teeth, usually in the area where you had the injury (e.g. on the cheeks, or on the front part of your mouth).
- Lifestyle habits - Myofunctional habits are certain mannerisms that affect muscles and bones in the mouth. Examples of these habits include:
- Tongue thrusting - The pressing of the tongue on the teeth.
- Thumbsucking - The habitual sucking of fingers or toys.
- Mouth breathing - It is breathing from the mouth instead of the nose.
- Pacifier - Habitual use of feeding bottles or pacifiers
- Early baby tooth loss - Losing one’s teeth at an early age might affect how permanent teeth will grow out.
- Misaligned jaw - Also known as Malocclusion. This refers to the condition wherein the upper and lower teeth do not align properly.
What is the Burden?
Crooked teeth, though very common, can impact our lives in different ways. Some of the issues that arise due to crooked teeth include:
- Problems in chewing and munching - Severely crooked or crowded teeth can cause pain and discomfort while chewing your food. With poor grinding of the food, you may experience digestive problems as well.
- Low self-esteem - There’s nothing more discouraging than having crooked, misaligned teeth. Not only does it affect your confidence to put a smile on your face, but it also affects your interest in socializing in the first place.
- Difficulty speaking - The structure of our mouth plays a vital role in speech. Thus, your pronunciation and articulation of words can be affected by crooked and misaligned teeth.
- Periodontal disease - This disease is characterized by swollen and inflamed gums. People with crooked teeth have more risk of developing this condition because crooked teeth make it harder to clean. If both conditions are left untreated, it might later result in tooth loss.
- Wear and tear of teeth and gums - Because crooked teeth include misalignment of the upper and lower teeth, continuous chewing, and biting can further damage your teeth.
Importance of Addressing Crooked Teeth in Older Adults
Most of us seniors take the importance of addressing crooked teeth for granted, thinking that we are too old for it. However, having aligned teeth is more crucial than you think.
Getting older means being more prone to oral health problems, that’s where aligning crooked teeth becomes important. Not only does it revive your confidence to smile, but it also provides the following benefits:
- It reduces the risk of gum disease
- It reduces the risk of tooth decay
- It allows easier cleaning
- It promotes good overall oral health
How To Address Crooked Teeth in Older Adults
Now that you know the importance of addressing crooked teeth, it’s time that you know how to address it. Your Orthodontist will most probably recommend you to have braces so that you can achieve the perfectly aligned teeth you have always wanted. There are several types of braces you should know, and these include:
- Metal braces - This is the most popular and effective type of braces recommended by orthodontists. This works by gluing the metal brackets on the teeth while it is supported by wires. Each month you will be required to visit your orthodontist for adjustments.
- Ceramic braces - This is another type of brace that’s a bit more pricey, but unlike metal braces, this one is clear and tooth-colored so it’s less visible.
- Lingual braces - This is a less common type of braces wherein instead of being aligned outside your teeth, it’s glued in the inside.
- Clear aligners - These are clear plastic trays made to fit over your teeth. This is the best option for seniors who require minor changes in teeth alignment. It’s even less expensive than metal and ceramic braces.
Other ways to align your teeth include:
- Retainer - This is used for people who have minor cases of crooked teeth and only require little changes. In some cases, retainers are also used by people who just finished using braces so to maintain the proper alignment of their teeth after the support from the braces.
- Palatal expander - This tool is specifically for children who have limited space in their mouth to fit growing permanent teeth.
Just like tooth loss, crooked teeth are also a common oral health problem that most seniors experience. Though crooked teeth might not be a major issue to some, it’s still important to promote healthy, straight, and perfectly aligned teeth.
It’s not only because it improves your look, but it also reduces your risk of getting other oral health issues that are more severe and harder to treat. If you’re not sure how to start, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about available options that fit your condition and budget.