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Are Crooked Teeth Genetic?

By Zawn Villines
Genetics can cause crooked teeth, but other factors affect tooth alignment too. If you have a genetic predisposition to crooked teeth, it’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that reduces other crooked teeth causes.

Even though crooked teeth are common, they could affect your confidence levels. They may also cause gum disease, tooth decay, or issues with speaking and eating. But what causes crooked teeth? Both hereditary and environmental factors can influence the appearance and alignment of your teeth.  

Crooked Teeth and Genetics

“Crooked teeth can occur naturally or later in life,” Yvonne King, BDSc, an Australian aesthetic dentist, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Genetics can impact the development of teeth. Crooked teeth can occur if your family tends to develop overbites or underbites.”

“Some genetic factors causing crooked teeth in children include extra teeth, abnormally large teeth, overbites, underbites, and misaligned jaws,” King adds. 

A 2020 Journal of International Dental and Medical Research study of schoolchildren with crooked teeth in Jakarta found that many had genetic risk factors for overbites or underbites. More than half (58.02%) had retained baby teeth, while 9.88% had extra teeth and 9.88% had abnormally-shaped teeth. 

Other Crooked Teeth Causes

In infants and very young children, frequent sucking of a pacifier or thumb is developmentally normal, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare. But if the habit does not fade around the age of 3, it can cause the teeth to become misaligned. 

Some other crooked teeth causes include: 

  • Tooth loss. “If a tooth falls out, then the remaining teeth that are growing will move to fill space—causing crooked teeth,” King says. When teeth fall out, it is difficult for the remaining teeth to be properly aligned without professional intervention. 
  • Trauma. Trauma can cause tooth loss, but it can also change the shape of the jaw and cause the teeth to look crooked. “Typically, sports are the most common cause of crooked teeth in adults,” King explains. 
  • Tongue or lip ties. “Having abnormal tongue posture narrows the palate, thereby leaving insufficient room for all the teeth,” Deb Roth, MS, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist specializing in tongue ties, tells WebMD Connect to Care. 

“Teeth can shift over time from changes in the skeletal structures, habits, and normal function,” Brian D. Luong, DMD at Santa Ana Orthodontics, tells WebMD. 

This means that crooked teeth may shift or get worse without correction. In some cases, especially if you don’t follow up with your orthodontist or wear your retainer, crooked teeth or an overbite can even return after correction.  

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