Studies indicate that people with straight teeth are perceived as being more successful, more intelligent, and more likely to get dates than people with crooked teeth. With so much of how we are perceived riding on the straightness of our teeth, you might be wondering how teeth sometimes come in crooked in the first place.
The factors influencing teeth crowding and other orthodontics problems still aren’t fully understood, but a leading theory today is the Soft Foods Theory. In brief, because we don’t eat the kind of tough, fibrous diet our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, we don’t stimulate as much bone growth in our jaws, which leaves less room for all of our teeth to grow in straight. We might also be missing some of the vitamins and minerals that help teeth and bones grow.
Now, we aren’t recommending switching to a hunter-gatherer diet, because that has serious downsides too. So much extra chewing means that the teeth are subjected to much more wear and tear, and we think that needing a little orthodontic treatment to straighten things out is far more preferable to getting worn-down teeth much earlier than we would while enjoying the tasty modern foods available to us.
If you inherit genes for a small jaw from your mother and genes for large teeth from your father, that’s a recipe for dental crowding, and if your parents had braces, you will more likely need them as well (although that could be because parents who benefitted from orthodontic treatment are more likely to want their children to share those benefits than parents who didn’t).
There’s nothing we can do about the genes we were born with, and a hunter-gatherer diet has too many downsides to be an effective dental health solution, but we can do a lot to create or minimize orthodontic problems through our daily habits. Thumbsucking and pacifier use beyond age four, habitual mouth breathing, a tongue-thrust reflex, and simply leaning your head on your hand frequently can all have a cumulative effect on the way teeth grow in, the shape of the dental arch, and even how teeth drift in adulthood.
You read that right: crookedness and crowding don’t only happen when adult teeth first erupt; they can also happen over time as we get older, even for former orthodontic patients. This phenomenon is called mesial drift. Over decades of using our teeth for normal things like eating and talking, they rub against each other enough to gradually wear away some of their widths. They slowly begin to scoot closer together and push towards the front of the mouth. This is one reason older adults may need braces too, and an excellent reason to keep wearing your retainers!
No matter what has been causing your orthodontic issues, make sure to bring them to the straight smile professionals. We can get you the straight smile you deserve. We look forward to meeting you at your consultation!