Crowded Teeth

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Crowded teeth can get in the way of having a great smile and making a great first impression. Although most cases of teeth crowding is not a serious medical concern, it can lead to serious dental issues in the long run if you do not practice good oral habits.

When there is not enough space in your jaw to accommodate all of your teeth, then you end up having crowded teeth. It can also happen when your teeth are too big for your jaw. Because of the lack of space, the teeth push towards each other and causes some of them to rotate or overlap. This can happen to both your upper teeth and lower teeth.

Types of teeth crowding

Mild crowding

Mild case of crowded teeth happens when one anterior tooth in the upper or lower jaw has rotated slightly (0-3 mm).

Moderate crowding

Moderate crowding happens when there is two to three anterior teeth overlaps in the upper or lower jaw (4-8 mm).

Severe crowding

Severe dental crowding happens when most of the anterior teeth in the upper or lower jaw overlaps (more than 8 mm).

Symptoms of crowded teeth

Here is a list of the usual symptoms that people go through when they have crowded and crooked teeth. These cases can range from mild to severe.

  • Misalignment of the teeth
  • Teeth is twisted at unnatural angles
  • Frequent tongue and inner cheek biting
  • Speech difficulties like lisp
  • Jaw pain
  • Discomfort when biting or chewing
  • Difficulty brushing and flossing
  • Difficulty when breathing
  • Facial appearance becomes altered

What causes crowded teeth?


Crowded or crooked teeth can be inherited. If your parents have crowded or crooked teeth, you are at a higher risk of having it too – even if you strictly practice good oral hygiene.

Jaw size

If your jaw is smaller than the usual jaw size, you are more likely to develop crowded teeth because you will not have enough room to accommodate all your teeth.

Large teeth

Some people tend to grow teeth that are larger than their archdimensions. As a result, the teeth do not fit in the jaw because of the lack of space. Because of this, some teeth grows in the front or the back of others.

Extra teeth

There is a standard number of teeth on each jaw. If you happen to have extra teeth, the extra teeth will erupt closely with each other as they compete to attach themselves to your jaw. This condition is called hyperdontia.

Thumb sucking

Almost every child goes through a thumb sucking phase. However, when this goes on for an extended period and excessively, it can lead to crowded teeth.

This is because sucking your thumb repeatedly can force teeth to move from their correct position with the constant presence of the thumb in the way. This may cause the teeth to reposition and be misaligned.

Tongue thrusting

This has the same effect on the teeth as the effect of thumb sucking. The repetitive force has enough force and power to shift the teeth’s position. Tongue thrusting often causes misaligned bites like overbite and crossbite.

Delay in losing baby teeth

When you retain your baby teeth longer than expected, your permanent teeth will not grow out properly because the baby teeth is still preventing the eruption of the permanent tooth. As a result, you grow out crooked permanent teeth.

Losing baby teeth early

If you lose your baby teeth earlier than expected, an adjacent tooth will try to occupy the vacant space. This can cause misalignments to occur and sometimes, overcrowding.


The patient’s age is also a factor when it comes to developing crowded teeth. As you get older, the teeth in your lower jaw will start moving. This movement may cause crowded or crooked teeth.

Dental trauma

If you have participated in a fight or got into an accident that involves facial injury, an impact on the mouth can cause crowded teeth. The impact may cause the teeth to twist out of place and affect the placement of your other teeth.

What happens when you don’t correct crowded teeth?

At first, you may find that it is not correcting crowding is not really something that you should address right away. After all, crowded teeth is not life threatening. But this does not mean that you should leave it that way.

Untreated crowded teeth comes with consequences if the condition will progress in time and become severe. Here are some of the common problems or issues that are often associated when you delay to correct crowding.

Difficulty brushing and flossing

Having crowded teeth means you will have a hard time maintaining a poor oral hygiene since you are unable to brush and floss your teeth properly.

Crowded teeth prevents you to reach certain spots when you brush your teeth. This means that even if you brush everyday, your teeth are not getting the ultimate care. Tooth decay can develop later on.

Most people with crowded teeth have trouble flossing because the floss often ends up ripping or getting stuck between the crowded teeth. Not being able to floss well will cause plaque and tartar buildup.

Tooth damage

When your teeth gets smacked together closely or overlap abnormally, this can cause damage over time. Teeth that sticks out at unusual angles can end up getting cracked or chipped and will require dental attention.

Bite problems

When your teeth is misaligned due to crooked or crowded teeth, chances are – you have bite issues. This happens when your upper teeth and lower teeth overlap each other when you bite.

Some bite problems can be obvious like an open bite or overbite. Other bite problems can be subtle and hardly noticeable – but it does not mean that they are less important. If you have straight and well-spaced teeth, you will have a better bite.

Gum disease

If your teeth are not aligned properly, you have a weak defense against periodontal disease. While mild gum disease can be treated with constant deep cleaning and good oral hygiene, severe cases are another thing. Severe cases or prolonged cases can lead to jaw damage or tooth loss.

Bad breath

As mentioned earlier, crowded teeth prevents you from taking care of your teeth thoroughly. As a result, you can have bad breath as a side effect.

Low self-esteem

The main reason why people want to fix crowded teeth is that they go through self-esteem issues. Having crowded teeth means you do not have a great smile and this can affect the way you project yourself to others.

Most people lose confidence in social interactions and losing opportunities in the workplace because they refuse to smile or talk because of the way their teeth look.

Working on this flaw and getting straighter teeth will be a great confidence booster.

Treatments that can fix crowded teeth

There are several treatment options when it comes to dealing with crowded and crooked teeth. Each one costs different and each one has their own benefits.


The most common treatment option to fix crowded teeth is traditional braces. The treatment involves metal wires, elastic bands, metal brackets or ceramic brackets, and lingual braces. These three materials work together to apply constant pressure to teeth over time.

The treatment duration for metal braces or lingual braces will depend on the severity of the teeth crowding. The more work it needs, the more expensive it can get.

As for the cost of braces, it will also depend on the severity of your case and the type of braces that you choose. The cheapest type of braces is the traditional metal braces. Ceramic braces cost more because of their material.


The most popular treatment option for overcrowded teeth these days is Invisalign aligners. Invisalign is the best clear braces in the market today and is known to have a wide roster of celebrities that use it. What makes the Invisalign treatment in demand is that they are more flexible compared to wearing fixed braces.

However, you should know that this treatment option can not handle severe crowding. Invisalign only works best when you have a mild to moderate case of crowded teeth. The force of invisible aligners is not enough to handle severe dental crowding needs. For severe cases, you will be recommended to use fixed braces instead.

The treatment time and cost for Invisalign greatly depends on the severity of your issue. The more work it needs, the more expensive it can get.


If your teeth crowding is caused by extra teeth, extraction is the best treatment option for you. If you have teeth in crooked positions because the teeth grow outside their arches, most dental professionals would recommend removing teeth to give other teeth more space to straighten up.

Take note that after the extra teeth are extracted, you may still need to use other treatment options to correct the misalignment.


Veneers are like masks for your teeth. As masks, they are able to hide twisted or crooked teeth. However, this treatment process is only suitable for cases of mild crowding or overcrowded teeth.

You should also know that this treatment is charged per tooth. So if you have a lot of twisted teeth, you can expect a hefty bill.

How to prevent crowded teeth?

Practice good oral hygiene

When you actively make an effort to take care of your teeth from the very start and you visit your dentist regularly, there is little chances for you to encounter dental issues like crooked or crowded teeth.

Fix chronic teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is not natural and should be addressed right away before it develops into an uncontrollable habit. One way to help you address teeth grinding is to wear a nightguard while you sleep at night.

Get assessed by an orthodontist

When it comes to teeth alignment, orthodontists are the specialist. It is important that you see one as early as possible to determine if you will be facing some orthodontic issues in the future. They can determine whether you will have teeth alignment issues in the future even the patient has not grown out their baby teeth yet and provide medical advice on what you can do about it.

Wear your retainers after an orthodontic treatment

Retainers are the best way to prevent your teeth from shifting back to its original position after you went through an orthodontic treatment. They are a small price to pay to make sure that your new straight teeth will always stay properly aligned even as you age. This means you get to keep a beautiful smile forever.

Crowded teeth FAQ

How long does it take to treat crowded teeth?

This will depend on the severity of your overcrowding teeth and what kind of treatment you choose to address it.

Generally, when it comes to traditional orthodontic treatment, cases of mild teeth crowding can be corrected in six to eight months. More complex cases of crowded teeth can take up to a year or two.

How much would it cost to fix crowded teeth?

The cost to fix teeth crowding will depend on the severity of your case and the type of treatment you choose to fix it. If you are looking for a general range, treatment can cost anywhere between $1700 and $9000.

Can a retainer fix crowded teeth?

No. Retainers are not a viable solution to fix dental crowding. Retainers, whether they are the removable or fixed type, can have enough pressure to move slightly crowded teeth. But they are not strong enough to straighten teeth.

Retainers are often used as an aftercare treatment when you get your teeth straightened to ensure that the new and desired position of your teeth will be retained.

Can dental crowding cause pain?

Yes, most people who have dental crowding suffers from some type of pain and the pain is usually located in the teeth, gums, or jaws. Some even go through headaches or pain in the neck and shoulders.

The pain is caused by excess pressure as a result of the teeth being smashed together. A misaligned bite means you will also experience pain or discomfort while eating.

The pain may also be caused by muscular fatigue. Since you have dental crowding, your jaw muscles will become strained. This is an explanation why you get headaches and pain that reaches your neck and shoulders.

Do crooked teeth get worse in time?

In most cases, crowded teeth or crooked teeth does get worse as you age. This usually varies from patient to patient but a majority of all primary teeth crowding cases leads to more serious oral health complications later on when left untreated. The earlier you address it, the better.

Overcrowded teeth can be corrected at any age. Orthodontists actually advise parents to have their children’s teeth checked as early as age 7. At that age, orthodontists are able to tell if their patient’s teeth would be needing orthodontic intervention in the future.

Can wisdom teeth cause dental crowding?

Most adults have experienced the excruciating pain of a wisdom tooth getting stuck in the gums as it forces its way to grow out. This have led a lot of people to believe that when a wisdom tooth grows out, it causes the rest of the permanent teeth to shift and cause dental crowding.

But the truth is, there is no reliable study that supports this claim. A lot of dental professionals believe that the behavior of wisdom teeth growing out is not that powerful enough to cause misalignment or dental crowding.

Can teeth crowding happen even when you’ve had braces?

Yes, you can still develop dental crowding later in life – even if you have gone through orthodontic treatments to fix all the teeth you have. Your permanent teeth actually shifts naturally as you age even if you use ceramic braces or Invisalign aligners.

This is because as you grow older, your jaw bone loses its density and shrinks. Most of the time, dental crowding through aging happens in the bottom teeth, particularly the front teeth.

Even if you have had metal braces, your teeth can still shift over time once they are removed. This is why people who wear braces have to wear retainers after – to ensure that the new position of the teeth stays in place.


Crowded teeth is not just an aesthetic problem. It does not only lead to serious dental issues in the future but also affects your self-esteem and confidence. Straightening teeth is a great investment to make sure you gain confidence and have good dental hygiene.

Dental crowding may not seem to be a major issue but it can affect your confidence and the way you socialize with other people. You end up talking and smiling less as part of your efforts to not reveal your misaligned teeth.

Thankfully, crowded teeth is a dental issue that can be corrected thanks to orthodontics. It is now easier for everybody to seek treatment for dental crowding. In fact, there are a wide range of medically reviewed treatments that you can use for teeth straightening.

Do not let dental crowding be a source of pain, discomfort, and embarrassment in your life. The earlier you get it treated, the sooner you get to enjoy a beautiful and confident smile.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.