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How Do I Know if My Teeth Crowding is Mild, Moderate, or Severe?

By Kyle Kirkland
Teeth crowding may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it can negatively affect your overall health. Here’s what you need to know about how professionals determine whether your dental crowding is mild, moderate, or severe.

Teeth crowding is a common dental condition that occurs when there is insufficient space for the teeth, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. It can result from teeth that are larger than normal, inadequate space in the jaws, or both. When your teeth are crowded, they may be overlapping, rotated, or staggered in appearance. Read on for expert insights about how dentists determine whether dental crowding is mild, moderate, or severe.

How Teeth Crowding Severity is Determined

The first things to know about teeth crowding are the signs of the condition, which can include: 

  • Overlapping teeth: The teeth may grow in crookedly, or not grow in at all, and stay stuck under the bone because there is inadequate space to grow normally.
  • Small jaw bones: The structure for the teeth may be too small for them to grow in alignment.
  • Abnormal growth patterns: Crowded teeth may not grow in a “U” shape, which is the standard shape for well-aligned teeth.

“Overcrowding can either be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the patient's jaw size and how many teeth they have,” Jennifer Jablow, DDS and Founder of intelliWHITE, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“Mild crowding is when one anterior tooth”which is a tooth located near the front of your mouthin the upper or lower jaw is slightly rotated. Moderate crowding is when two to three anterior teeth overlap in the upper or lower jaw. Severe crowding is when most anterior teeth in the upper or lower jaw overlap,” Jablow says.

In addition to rotations and overlapping, teeth crowding can be categorized by the specific amount of overcrowding that is present. 

“The degree of teeth crowding is calculated by subtracting the sum of the total tooth widths for each jaw from the perimeter of the respective jaw bone arch, where the difference in millimeters will define the severity of the teeth crowding,” Alfred Griffin III, DMD, orthodontist, Founder and CEO of LightForce Orthodontics, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

“0mm means there is no crowding and makes for perfect spacing for the teeth in the supporting bone. 1mm to 3mm is mild crowding, 4mm-6mm is moderate crowding, and 7mm or more is severe crowding,” Griffin explains.

Crowded teeth can affect your appearance, but they can also affect your general health. Jawbone and joint problems, cavities linked to the increased difficulty of cleaning crowded teeth, and migraines are all associated with untreated dental crowding, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.

Although the severity of your teeth crowding as well as your general health details will influence your dental care, crowded teeth can be treated using orthodontics such as traditional braces or invisible aligners. Your orthodontist will be able to advise you about your best treatment options. 

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