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Can Teeth Crowding Cause Pain?

By Manjari Bansal
Do you have tooth or jaw pain? It could be caused by crowded teeth. Knowing the links between teeth crowding and pain could help you seek treatment.

The consequences of crowded teeth often reach far beyond your smile. Teeth crowding can cause pain in your gums, teeth, and jaws. The discomfort could even spread to your neck and shoulders. Read on for more about the factors associated with teeth crowding that can lead to aches and pain. 

Teeth Crowding and Pain

Teeth crowding is a type of dental misalignment. It occurs when there is not enough space in your jaws, so your teeth overlap each other as a result. Crowded teeth, along with a misaligned jaw, are often hereditary in nature, and can occur simultaneously. Teeth crowding and misaligned jaws can lead to pain due to the following factors:

Excessive Pressure

“When a patient has crowded teeth, they can press unnecessary pressure on one another, which can then result in toothaches and pain near the crowded area,” Christopher Young, DDS, a dentist at Young Family Dental, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“Further, crowded teeth can result in the bite not being properly aligned, which can cause jaw pain and discomfort when chewing or even talking,” Young adds.

Dental Wear and Tear

According to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, if your teeth are misaligned, they may dig into your gums, cheeks, or lips while you're doing things like eating food or talking. Over time, this could damage your oral tissues and cause pain.

“When your bite and jaw are misaligned, this can cause unusual wear patterns because the top and bottom teeth aren’t lined up properly, which can eventually lead to fractures in teeth and cause severe jaw and neck pain,” Payam Ataii, DMD, a dentist at Laguna Dental Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Gum Disease and Decay

Crowded teeth are usually difficult to clean, which can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and gum infection.

“When there are crowded teeth, the chances of gum disease and tooth decay go up significantly and both of these situations can cause a considerable amount of pain,” Casey Lau, DDS, co-founder of ELIMS, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“If you get gum issues, it can result in loose teeth and that can hurt while you eat,” Lau adds.

Muscle Fatigue

According to the Oral Health Foundation, if your teeth and jaws don’t align properly, the muscles that move your jaws have to work harder. This can lead to muscle fatigue and spasm, creating symptoms like:

  • Migraine or continuous headache
  • Pain behind your eyes
  • Sinus pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Back pain

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

“Crowded teeth may cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which is inflammation in the joint between the jawbone and the skull,” Mahnaz Rashti, DDS, a periodontist in Beverly Hills, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“In turn, it causes numerous pounding headaches, severe neck pain, and shoulder discomfort if left untreated,” Rashti adds.

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