We’ve all heard the saying, “Never trust a person with a crooked smile.” Logically we know it can’t be 100% true, but somehow this phrase lives on. But what if you have a crooked smile? What can be done about it? This article will address the “crooked or crowded smile” and the options available to treat this cosmetic dental problem.
Genetics or Wear and Tear?
What causes a crooked or crowded smile in the first place? Although there are many reasons for this, some reasons are related to inherited or genetic disposition. For example, your mother may have a small jaw and your father may have large teeth, which leaves you with a small mouth and disproportionately sized teeth. With not enough room for each tooth, they may erupt crooked or staggered. Or a crooked smile could be caused by skeletal relation problems, or jaws that are misaligned. Another reason may be the uneven wearing of teeth, caused by bruxing, or the grinding of teeth, creating a slant in the teeth.
Why should a crooked or crowded smile be corrected? Besides appearance reasons, a crooked or crowded smile is in “malocclusion” or “bad bite.” Teeth may bite together incorrectly, resulting in inefficient chewing or uneven pressures or wear on teeth, the muscles, and/or jaw joint. Or it may be difficult or impossible to effectively floss between teeth, leaving the area more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.
Overcome a Crooked Smile with a Smile Makeover
There are various ways to solve the problem of a crooked or crowded smile. First there’s traditional orthodontics, or braces. Instead of the yesteryear’s metal bands that surround the tooth, these days braces look less conspicuous. The bracket, which holds the wire, is adhered to the front of the tooth, and varies from metal to clear to tooth-colored. The orthodontist uses different techniques and methods, placing controlled pressure to reposition teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the average treatment time is about two years, with adults usually taking longer. Tooth removal is usually associated with orthodontic correction in the crowded smile. Even with the updated version of braces being less noticeable than before, many patients that are professionals choose not to go this route. Beyond the appearance-related issues, I have heard people say that they do not want to be bothered with braces on their teeth.
In more recent years, another solution has entered the orthodontic arena. I’m sure you have seen the television commercials for “Invisalign.” These are clear, plastic “aligners” that resemble teeth whitening trays and fit over the upper or lower teeth. These “aligners” are worn all day except when eating, and replaced every so many weeks with the next incremental positioner. In general, Invisalign costs more than traditional braces, can’t be used for all situations requiring orthodontics, and depends on patient compliance for effectiveness. The benefit of this treatment over traditional braces is your natural teeth will show when you smile. If you feel Invisalign is for you, be sure to see an orthodontic specialist for optimal results.
However, there are pitfalls to orthodontic and Invisalign treatment. The lengthy treatment time and frequent appointments may be a drawn out inconvenience for some. In addition, relapse in adult orthodontics, in which teeth revert back to its crooked state, is a potential occurrence. If you have certain types of crooked teeth and want it corrected quickly, cosmetic dentistry may be a possibility for you.
The “Dental Magic” in Your Smile Makeover
For many different types of crooked or crowded smiles, cosmetic dentistry alone is able to correct this appearance-related as well as functional problem. Some cosmetic dentists call this “instant orthodontics,” as it may take as few as two appointments compared with two years of braces and many appointments. The cosmetic dentist uses veneers or crowns, depending on the situation, to restore the teeth and correct the crooked or crowded smile. Some people find it hard to believe that this is possible. How can this “dental magic” be performed?
There are many challenging aspects to this procedure. From tooth preparation to tooth design, unraveling the crooked smile needs to be performed with precision in order to have a good end result. It is important to seek out a cosmetic dentist that has experience in this area, so that your new smile will custom-match your face. Be sure to ask to see before and after photos of actual cases performed by the cosmetic dentist. Remember, cosmetic dentistry is an artistic process.
The preparation of the tooth is done so that correct proportion and balance can be achieved. The porcelain veneers are custom-built so the restoration appears to straighten the tooth. Since the teeth are not actually being moved your new smile can be created instantly. You can test the artistic ability of the dentist by the esthetic temporaries that are created for you on the first day of treatment. Not only is there a quicker time frame, but teeth do not have to be pulled for these cosmetic dental procedures.
Furthermore, cosmetic dentistry can solve the problem of worn down teeth and the appearance of each tooth. Enamel is the hardest layer of the tooth and provides protection from cavities. If the enamel is compromised or worn away, a cavity is more likely to appear. Veneers or crowns will build-up and protect the tooth by “re-enamelizing” the surface. And although orthodontics can move teeth, keep in mind it doesn’t address the shape, size, color or whiteness of teeth.
The optimal solution may end up being one or a combination of procedures. Talk to an orthodontist and cosmetic dentist to see what’s possible for you.
Unlike years ago, today people with crooked smiles have the option to correct this problem with speed and precision in sculpting a new smile. Modern dental procedures like cosmetic dentistry can not only help bring a smile to your face, but do so with artistic naturalness.
Q: If I only have a few noticeably crooked teeth, how do I know if I’m a candidate for cosmetic dentistry?
A: Because the path of treatment available for you depends on your specific situation, I would suggest making a “consultation” appointment with a cosmetic dentist’s office for a recommendation. As I mentioned before, ask to see before and after photos of work performed by that cosmetic dentist to be assured of their abilities.
Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on its head nearly a decade ago , replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!
Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back a Smile,” a charitable foundation of the AACD which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.