Dental Crowding: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Crowding? Symptoms, Treatment Options, FAQs, and More

When the mouth does not have enough space for all your teeth, it can lead to crowding.

Dental crowding is a type of malocclusion – or “bad bite” – that occurs as a result of this problem. Rather than grow into their correct positions, when the teeth do not have enough room, they will grow in unnatural positions, trying to find a space to grow in competition with other teeth. This can lead to crooked, crowded teeth that don’t line up properly.

Dental crowding is a common orthodontic concern and thus is treatable with braces and Invisalign with supervision by licensed, experienced orthodontists. There is a wide spectrum of crowding, and each unique case can be addressed with careful care from an in-office orthodontist.

This guide is designed to help you understand more about dental crowding: what it is, why it’s important to treat, how to correct it, and more. We’ve attempted to answer all questions about dental crowding – but you can always ask your licensed orthodontist for answers as well!

What is Dental Crowding?

Dental crowding occurs when teeth have competed for space in the mouth and have grown in improperly, causing teeth to be twisted and misaligned. In an ideal alignment of teeth, there is just the right amount of space for them all to grow in without crowding or leaving gaps between them. The teeth should touch each other, without affecting the proper rotation of the tooth. The top teeth should hang just slightly over the bottom teeth, with all the teeth lining up snugly and comfortably when biting down. Unfortunately, this is not always the case – many people’s teeth do not grow in exactly right! Dental crowding is one common issue that arises when teeth don’t grow in properly aligned. Instead, due to genetic issues in jaw size or other external factors, the teeth compete for space while they grow in, pushing them up in unnatural, crooked positions. This can lead to a variety of problems. It’s important to treat crowding with effective, supervised orthodontic care to prevent tooth decay or other issues.

What Causes Dental Crowding?

Dental crowding can be caused by a number of factors. Genetics is usually a part of the problem: if your jaw is too small, it can impact the way the teeth grow in, causing crowding. Other factors that can cause dental crowding:
  • Losing baby teeth prematurely
  • Extra adult teeth
  • Abnormal tooth growth
  • Unusually large teeth (can be caused by certain syndromes)
Whatever the cause of crowding, there is a wide spectrum of different severities of crowding. Some causes may result in only one twisted tooth; others may cause the entire row of teeth to grow in improperly.

What Are the Signs of Dental Crowding?

If you’re not sure if your teeth are crowded – or if you’re concerned about your child’s teeth being crooked – there are a few signs you can look for to assess whether the teeth are crowded.
Signs of dental crowding:

  • Tooth discomfort on biting
  • Crooked teeth set at unnatural angles in your mouth
  • Teeth overlapping each other
  • Crossbite
  • Excessive overjet
  • Jaw pain
  • Trouble biting or chewing
  • Difficulty brushing and flossing
  • Bleeding gums when flossing

If you have questions about whether these signs indicate dental crowding, schedule a consultation with a licensed orthodontist for more information. They will be able to do a thorough examination to determine whether your teeth are too crowded and what to do about it.

Is Crowding Bad for Your Teeth?

Yes, dental crowding is important to treat because it can cause lasting problems for your teeth, gums, mouth, and overall health. The most significant problem is poor hygiene: crowded, overlapping teeth are much harder to clean properly, which increases bacterial growth and plaque build-up. This can in turn cause problems for your teeth and your general health. Remember: a healthy mouth equals a healthy body.

Problems resulting from dental crowding:

  • Cavities or dental caries
  • Gum/periodontal disease
  • Aching jaw or teeth
  • Embarrassment with smile/low self-esteem
  • Trouble chewing or biting
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)

For the reasons listed above, it’s extremely important to treat dental crowding as soon as possible. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing children to see an orthodontist beginning at age 7: while they may not begin treatment immediately, the orthodontist will be able to monitor and predict the growth pattern of teeth, making an intervention plan if necessary or taking early measures to prevent dental crowding in the first place.

If you have dental crowding, visit an orthodontist for a consultation. No matter your age, an experienced orthodontist can use braces or Invisalign to help you achieve straight teeth and a beautiful smile, addressing your crowding with effective, comfortable orthodontic care!

How is Dental Crowding Treated?

Dental crowding can be a source of pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. It can have serious health consequences if left untreated.

Luckily, licensed orthodontists are extremely skilled at correcting crowded teeth. They study for years to learn the intricate art of tooth movement, mastering the many techniques necessary to properly and safely move each tooth into its correct position. Your teeth are in good hands with a licensed, experienced orthodontist.

The most important tool to achieving straight teeth and a healthy smile is the expertise of your doctor. They use the following tools to treat dental crowding.

Adult Braces Patient Smiling with Silver Bands


There are various forms of braces, all of which can be very effective tools in the hands of expert orthodontists to treat dental crowding. Metal, ceramic, or lingual braces can all help properly align teeth. Skilled doctors have helped many people achieve healthy bites and smiles with safe and comfortable braces treatment.

Person Holding Invisalign Aligner with Case

Invisalign Treatment

Invisalign treatment uses clear aligners to treat dental crowding. This is an extremely effective method for straightening teeth and correcting crowding. Patients love the discreet look of the clear aligners, which are nearly invisible when worn: plus, they achieve excellent results with speed and efficiency. Invisalign treatment is a great option for teens and adults who have overcrowded teeth!

Oral Surgeon Performing Dental Surgery


When teeth are extremely crowded, it sometimes is necessary to get certain teeth extracted. This is often the case for extra teeth, which are not needed for proper oral health, and cause crowding. If you need an extraction, your expert orthodontist will refer you to an oral surgeon or a dentist who can help with extractions. After extractions are completed and have healed, your orthodontist will move and guide the teeth into the extraction site to alleviate crowding.

Alonda, 23 years old, lower front crowding, removal of lower incisor, and 12 months Invisalign treatment (before and after)

Alonda, 23 years old, lower front crowding, removal of lower incisor and 12 months Invisalign treatment (before and after)


Your orthodontist will provide you with retainers to keep your smile in place after treatment for dental crowding. Teeth can sometimes slip back over time to their original positions, so the retainer protects the results achieved by orthodontic care. Be sure to wear your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist.

You have options when it comes to treating dental crowding. Your orthodontist will do a thorough examination of your teeth, including x-rays and/or 3D scans.

The most important part of your treatment is the orthodontist: choose a licensed, experienced orthodontist, not a general dentist, to ensure you’re getting the highest-quality care and dedicated expertise.

Practices that offer only orthodontics usually offer braces & Invisalign care for a lower price and have specialized skills specifically to treat issues like dental crowding. You are not only saving money, but you are also getting expert care as well!

Treating Dental Crowding: Before & After

Nataniel, 16 years old, Crowding caused by Overbite and Space Deficiency, before and after 9 months of Invisalign treatment

Nataniel, 16 years old, Crowding caused by Overbite and Space Deficiency, before Invisalign treatment
Nataniel, 16 years old, Crowding casued by Overbite and Space Deficiency, after Invisalign treatment

Nia, 18 years old, Crowding and Overbite alleviated with extractions and Invisalign treatment (before and after)

Nia, 18 years old, Crowding and Overbite alleviated with extractions and Invisalign treatment (before and after)

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Crowding