Are Crooked Teeth Genetic?
Updated on March 18, 2024
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Are Crooked Teeth Genetic?
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Yes, to a degree. Genetics can contribute to factors that may lead to crooked teeth, but environmental influences, diet, and dental hygiene should all be taken into consideration.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, approximately four million people in the United States wear braces, clear aligners, or other dental corrective devices.

Crooked teeth, or misaligned teeth, are dental problems that require corrective measures. Long ago, methods for straightening teeth were excruciatingly painful. Jutting teeth were filed, and overcrowded teeth were forced apart with metal forceps. With the advancement of technology, treatments for misaligned teeth have evolved into what they are today.

Are Crooked Teeth Genetic? 4

Fossil records show that humans developed crooked or misaligned teeth over time. Apparently, our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to have nearly perfect teeth. Anthropologists say that changes in the diet caused the human jaw to shrink.

Early humans had to chew more with all the tough meats and uncooked vegetables that comprised their diet. Eventually, with more cooking techniques and softer food, foods requiring less chewing made us use our teeth and jaws less, contributing to malocclusion or misaligned teeth.8

On the other hand, genetic studies revealed that the genes we inherit from our parents are responsible for our jaw size, dental arch, and number of teeth.1


Many factors contribute to crooked teeth, including your genes. Anthropologists discovered that our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to have perfect teeth and they believe that the reason we have misaligned teeth now is because of how our diet changed from hard foods that required more chewing to easier-to-chew foods.

Can You Inherit Crooked Teeth?

Genetics contribute to the development of crooked teeth. If your parents have misaligned teeth, you’re more likely to have misaligned teeth, too.2

Some genetics-related factors that cause crooked teeth in children include:

  • Abnormally large teeth
  • Having extra teeth
  • Misaligned jaws
  • Overbites or class 2 malocclusion (It happens when the upper jaw and upper teeth overlap the lower and lower jaw)
  • Underbites or class 3 malocclusion (It occurs when the lower teeth jut out beyond the front of the upper teeth when the jaw is closed)

However, while genetics cause crooked teeth, other factors also greatly influence teeth alignment. You may assess your genetic predisposition through genetic testing to learn your risks.

If genetically inclined to develop crooked teeth, you can improve your dental health through proper oral hygiene. Oral hygiene will reduce your risk for other oral health problems.


Yes, you can inherit the genetic factors that may more easily cause bad teeth, but it’s not a guarantee. You can improve your dental hygiene to try and keep this at bay.

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Causes of Crooked Teeth

Aside from genetic factors, environmental factors can cause crooked teeth. These habits and disorders cause crowded teeth and undeveloped jaws.

Are Crooked Teeth Genetic? 5

Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing occurs when conditions like asthma or allergies force you to breathe through your mouth.

Breathing through your mouth puts your tongue in an abnormal position. If you fail to correct it, prolonged mouth breathing leads to an undeveloped upper and lower jaw.3 This is because the tongue naturally rests against the roof of the mouth when breathing through your nose, which helps exert pressure to create an arch in the top of your mouth.

Breathing through your mouth may make the roof of your mouth sit lower and affect how much space your teeth have to grow.

Open Mouth Posture

Like mouth breathing, an open mouth posture places the tongue in an abnormal position. An open mouth posture will eventually cause teeth misalignment because of undeveloped jaws.

Prolonged Use of Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking

The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare says that pacifier use or thumb sucking in babies and young children is normal during the developmental stage.

However, these habits should stop when the child turns three years old. Prolonged thumb or pacifier sucking puts force on the teeth and jaws. It can affect the teeth or jaw growth, leading to crooked teeth.4

Tongue Ties

A tongue tie, otherwise known as ankyloglossia, is a condition where a baby’s frenulum is too short or tight. The frenulum is the tissue that anchors the tongue’s underside to the mouth’s bottom.

Children born with tongue ties have very limited tongue movement. The restriction in movement forces the tongue to have an abnormal posture, which narrows the palate. It results in very little space for teeth to grow properly.

Untreated tongue ties can, later on, cause problems like:

  • Periodontal disease or gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Teeth misalignment when permanent teeth develop

Tongue Thrusting 

Tongue thrusting happens when the lips push back, and the tongue pushes forward. It is also called reverse swallowing because it usually happens when you swallow.

Tongue thrusting can cause dental problems in children. When kids lose their baby teeth, and their adult teeth come in, the new teeth are sensitive to outside pressure.5

The tongue is a strong muscle. When children consistently push their tongues against their front teeth, their teeth may shift. Over time, this can lead to an open bite.

Are Crooked Teeth Genetic? 6

Tooth Loss

A tooth falling out causes the remaining teeth to move to fill the vacant space.

Teeth movement will eventually cause crooked teeth. Seek professional intervention when you lose a tooth so that they can provide medical advice and prevent misalignment.


Trauma from physical violence, accidents, or injuries can lead to tooth loss. The forceful impact can alter jaw shape and cause teeth movement.

In adults, injuries from contact sports are one of the most common causes of crooked teeth.

Tumors of the Mouth and Jaw 

Some forms of oral cancer cause the formation of tumors.

Tumors found in the mouth and jaw cause crooked teeth. The space occupied by a tumor forces the teeth to move, which leads to misalignment problems.


Here are some of the most common causes of crooked teeth:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Open mouth posture
  • Prolonged use of pacifiers and thumb sucking
  • Tongue ties
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Tooth loss
  • Trauma
  • Mouth or jaw tumors

What are Some Problems Associated with Crooked Teeth?

While crooked teeth are a problem, other problems are associated with them. Crooked teeth cause difficulty in chewing. They strain your jaw, which increases your likelihood of breaking a tooth.6

Additionally, crooked teeth are hard to clean. This predisposes you to develop dental caries.

There could also be enamel-related problems because protruding teeth rub against other teeth and wear down the enamel. Thinner enamel generally weakens the tooth, making you more prone to pain and dental problems in general.

More than this, crooked teeth greatly impact a person’s overall health and well-being. Misaligned teeth increase the chance of bacteria hiding in gum pockets, which can cause gum disease.

Studies say that untreated bacteria in the teeth or oral infection can go into the bloodstream. It may cause life-threatening conditions such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.7

Image of ancient teeth


Here are some of the problems associated with crooked teeth:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw strain
  • Susceptibility to cavities and breaking teeth
  • Difficulty cleaning
  • Thinner enamel and weaker teeth
  • Higher chances of gum disease

What to Do With Crooked Teeth

Having crooked teeth is not a reason to be disheartened.

Dental treatments can significantly improve crooked teeth’ function, stability, and appearance. With the latest advancements in dental procedures, you’ll have a beautiful smile in no time.

Metal braces, or traditional braces, have been used for a long time. However, most people nowadays opt for something less noticeable than the standard metal brackets.

You can now opt for corrective devices like:

  • Dental veneers
  • Clear plastic aligners
  • Dental bonding

Talk to an orthodontist and discuss what will best work for you. 

Aside from these, good oral hygiene is very important. As your dentist will tell you, brush using fluoridated toothpaste twice daily. You should also floss and get regular dental checkups.

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Updated on March 18, 2024
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8 sources cited
Updated on March 18, 2024
  1. Genetic, epigenetic, and environmental influences on dental arch variation.” AIP Publishing.

  2. The genetic basis of dental anomalies and its relation to orthodontics.” European Journal of Dentistry.

  3. Mouth breathing: adverse effects on facial growth, health, academics, and behavior.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  4. Can Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking Affect My Child’s Teeth?” American Association of Orthodontists.

  5. A Patient’s Tongue May Be Causing Crooked Teeth.” Space Maintainers Laboratories.

  6. Oral Health and Swallowing Problems.” Current Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Reports.

  7. Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection.” American Society for Microbiology.

  8. Before Agriculture, Human Jaws Were a Perfect Fit for Human Teeth.” Smithsonian Mag.

Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.