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Here's What Happens If Your Teeth Crowding Issue Goes Untreated

By Kaelyn Johnson, MPH, RD
Failure to address dental issues can result in complications. Learn more about the problems that untreated teeth crowding can cause.

Crowded teeth are more than just a cosmetic concern. They can cause trouble down the road if not adequately treated with orthodontics. Here are three potential consequences of unresolved teeth crowding.

Cavities

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, if crowded teeth are left untreated, cleaning them thoroughly can be difficult. Overcrowded teeth can involve overlapped or staggered teeth, which can consequently make proper flossing and brushing difficult

The American Association of Orthodontists also notes that cavities are one possible consequence of untreated crowded teeth. Since it can be hard to properly floss and brush all of your teeth due to crowding, it’s easy for plaque and bacteria to build up in the mouth. This plaque and bacteria accumulation can result in cavities.

Gum Disease

According to the American Dental Association, bacteria accumulation due to teeth and gums that are difficult to clean can also result in gum disease. 

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Continued bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Red, swollen, and tender gums
  • Gums that are pulled away from the teeth

According to the American Dental Association, the early stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis, due to crowded teeth or other causes, is reversible. Treatment involves professional cleaning, with daily brushing and flossing as a follow-up. 

Untreated gum disease can lead to periodontitis, or advanced gum disease. Periodontitis can potentially result in damage to the bones and tissues that support your teeth.

Speech Difficulties

Overcrowded teeth can lead to problems with speech. 

A 2018 case study published by Medical Journal, Armed Forces India illustrates this fact. The case study's subject experienced speech difficulties as well as aggressive gum disease due to teeth crowding. The treatment plan for this case included deep plaque removal by a periodontist (a specialized dentist that focuses on gum disease), teeth extraction, and braces.

“Crowded teeth can interfere with the ease and eloquence of pronouncing certain words,” Amber O’Brien, DMD, a dentist at Mango Clinic, tells WebMD Connect to Care. According to O'Brien, the difficulty experienced depends on the location and severity of the crowded teeth. A slight whistle when talking can also occur due to air moving through the teeth.

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