There’s more than one way to correct crooked teeth. In fact, how your dentist recommends fixing teeth that are uneven, crowded or that don’t meet up properly will depend on the extent of the problem and the location of the teeth. Braces are one common option for correcting uneven teeth, but aren’t the only choice available. Usually, the same treatment is used to correct teeth on the top row and the bottom row. In some instances, only one row of teeth needs correction.

Understanding uneven Teeth

A person’s teeth can come in crooked for a variety of reasons. The American Dental Association notes that losing the baby teeth too early can create problems for the permanent teeth. The permanent teeth are more likely to shift out of position, creating crowded conditions in either the upper or lower rows of teeth. In some cases, the permanent teeth can come in at a slight angle if the baby teeth fall out or are pulled out too soon.

Sometimes, the size of your mouth doesn’t match up with the size of your teeth. If your mouth is very small, your teeth are likely to be crowded and won’t have room to come in straight and evenly.

A misalignment of the bite, known as malocclusion, can also be behind crooked teeth. As the National Institutes of Health points out, malocclusion usually runs in families. There are three forms of it, with class 1, or a slight overbite, being the most common. Class 2 malocclusion is a more severe overbite while class 3 is an underbite, meaning the lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth.

Options for fixing Crooked Teeth on both rows

The options for fixing uneven teeth on either the upper or bottom row are almost as varied as the types of misalignment. For example, there are a few options for straightening teeth without braces. They include wearing a retainer to re-position mildly out-of-place teeth or to correct crookedness caused by overcrowding.

Another option is a treatment known as interproximal reduction. According to the American Academy of Orthodontists, this treatment is often used either in tandem with braces or on its own. Interproximal reduction involves filing away some of the enamel to create a smaller, slenderer tooth. It’s often used on the front teeth on either the top or bottom row.

Porcelain veneers can help improve the appearance of teeth that are crooked or uneven, but veneers won’t correct the underlying problem. They can be a good option if you have small spaces between teeth or if you have mild overcrowding.

Options for fixing Crooked Teeth on the bottom row

If you are dealing with class 3 malocclusion, or an underbite, your dentist or orthodontist might recommend treatment that specifically targets correcting misalignment on the bottom row of teeth. Generally speaking, you have two options for correcting an underbite. Option one is to wear a special jaw expander, which increases the size of your upper jaw, so that your bottom teeth no longer overlap the upper teeth.

A second option is surgery, which shortens the length of the lower jaw, reducing the underbite. Surgery is rarely performed, but may be the most effective treatment for the right patient.

Correcting uneven teeth or a misaligned bite can improve your oral health in many ways. It makes it easier to brush and floss your teeth. It also helps you speak better and chew with ease.

If you are concerned about your teeth, discuss your options for correcting any misalignment with your dentist. He or she might refer you to an orthodontist for treatment or review ways to straighten your teeth without braces. No matter how you decide to treat your teeth, remember that a good oral care routine involves brushing twice a day with a toothpaste like Colgate Total Advanced Deep Clean. It helps maintain a dentist-clean feeling with advanced-cleaning silica similar to what dentists use.

Related treatments

Braces

According to MouthHealthy.org, braces is the standard treatment for crooked or crowded teeth and a misaligned jaw. The traditional treatment is to cement brackets to the teeth and connect them with a wire. At regular intervals, usually over one to three years, an orthodontist tightens the wire, which gradually moves the teeth and jaw into alignment. Braces are often the go-to treatment for an overbite, where the upper jaw sits too far forward and the upper teeth protrude.

Headgear braces

When the jaw misalignment is too excessive for regular braces to achieve a satisfactory result, the orthodontist may use headgear braces. Retraction headgear moves the upper jaw back, and protraction headgear moves the upper jaw forward. Both kinds of braces are fixed with internal and external wires and a strap or two straps that fit over the head and neck. Headgear braces are worn 12 to 14 hours a day.

Upper jaw expander

An upper jaw expander corrects underbite, where the lower jaw protrudes and the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth when the mouth is closed. The upper jaw expander is a wire frame device that fits across the upper palate. The patient widens the expander a tiny amount every night, using a special key. After about one year, the upper jaw widens to correct the misalignment.

Reverse pull face mask

Another device to correct an underbite, the reverse pull face mask looks similar to headgear braces and is also worn overnight. The orthodontist fixes metal braces to the upper back teeth, and these attach to the face mask, which wraps around the head and pulls the upper jaw back.

Cosmetic Dentistry

A jaw misalignment treatment option open to adults who have a mild condition is cosmetic dentistry. In some cases a dentist can reshape the lower teeth and apply veneers to the upper teeth. This doesn’t fix the jaw misalignment, but it can make it less noticeable and allow the lower teeth to rest behind the uppers when the mouth is closed.

Jaw surgery

In severe cases of jaw misalignment, orthognathic jaw surgery may be needed. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon uses fixes plates, screws and wires to the jaw to correct the problem. Surgery is usually only recommended where the misalignment affects everyday functions such as eating, speaking and sleeping.

Oral care during treatment

Reaching around orthodontic devices to clean the teeth can be challenging, but brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day offers the best chance of healthy, cavity-free teeth once treatment is over. Rinse once a day with Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield, an antibacterial mouthwash that provides extra protection for teeth by reducing bacteria and plaque.

Jaw misalignment can be a serious condition, but it can be permanently fixed. With so many treatment options available, there’s no need to miss out on having a well-aligned jaw and straight, beautiful teeth. Talk to an orthodontist to find out the best option for you.