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Crowded Teeth: Signs and Symptoms

crowded teeth

Crowded teeth can cause cosmetic issues that hurt your self-confidence, and can also escalate to create serious and chronic medical conditions. But the good news is – dentists and orthodontists have treatment options. The first step in the process starts with a question.

Are my teeth crowded?

An expert dentist or orthodontist can identify teeth crowding with an x-ray, or even a simple visual exam. Still, there are some simple warning signs you can pay attention to at home that might indicate it’s time to make an appointment with the professionals.

Misaligned Teeth

Overlapping teeth occur when one tooth nudges in front of or behind another. Crooked teeth have shifted or rotated out of a standard position. Both kinds of misalignments can make even simple actions like biting, chewing, and talking uncomfortable.

Trouble Brushing and Flossing

In order to eliminate plaque buildup, your toothbrush and dental floss need to have easy paths in front of, behind, and between all of your teeth. If you’re obstructed when brushing and flossing, the problem could be teeth crowding.

Jaw Pain

Ounce-for-ounce, the jaw muscles are considered the strongest in the human body, but there’s a limit to how hard they can work. If you have jaw pain, it could be the result of crowded teeth changing the alignment of your bite.

Impacts of crowded teeth

Social Impacts

Crowded teeth and a crooked or misaligned smile can deeply harm a person’s self-image. This could result in smiling less, social anxiety, and isolation. Some people with crowded teeth avoid public speaking, and in extreme cases experience physical speech problems. This has a psychological impact and can also limit work opportunities. One orthodontic study showed that treating these issues led to a significant increase in self-esteem and quality of life.


The word that everyone in a dental chair dreads hearing--cavities. Crowded teeth make it hard to brush and floss every inch of your mouth, and this can lead to an increase in bacteria and tooth decay.

Gum Disease

Flossing can prevent gum disease, but not if a crowded tooth obstructs flossing. This sensitive area of your mouth can also suffer when crowded teeth stretch the gums in unnatural ways, creating inflammation. If it isn’t treated in time, gum disease can be painful and result in tooth loss.

Breathing Problems

Your teeth, gums, cheeks, jaw, and tongue all work together, and the health and position of one area impact all the others. When crowded teeth interfere with your tongue, that muscular organ can be forced back in your throat, making it difficult to breathe.


The temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex joints in the body, swinging your jaw open and closed, and sliding side-to-side. When the joint is out of alignment or the surrounding muscles become inflamed from excessive effort, this results in temporomandibular disorder (TMD). A host of terrible side effects can follow, like lockjaw, headaches, tinnitus, and teeth grinding. Teeth crowding is a significant factor in developing TMD.


Your teeth can and will continue to shift for your entire life. So, it’s important to correct crowded teeth as soon as the problem occurs.

Mild cases can be solved with a process known as enamel stripping, where small slivers of tooth enamel are removed to create more space. Many times, the issue can be solved with simple and unobtrusive orthodontics, like Invisalign. In extreme cases, teeth may have to be extracted to create room in the mouth. And if someone with teeth crowding develops TMD, they may be referred to physical therapy or orthopedic surgery.

But you can take control of your oral health, by maintaining good hygiene habits and getting regular checkups. That way you won’t be forced to “follow the crowd.”

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