Why we don’t take teeth out unless we have to (orthodontics)

Crooked teeth need space!

If you were lucky enough to grow up with a perfect set of straight teeth it means that they had just the right amount of space in your mouth, right from the start. We’re not all so fortunate these days though.

Our ancestors usually had bigger mouths than we have, and so crooked teeth were much less common than they are today, perhaps we’ll debate ‘why that is’ another time.

For the moment, lets keep it simple and look at 3 ways of getting more space for those teeth.

  • Take some teeth out, the traditional way for the past 80 years or so. Not so very long ago in the UK it was the norm, probably 80 to 85% of the time. In very crowded mouths it’s still necessary. BUT, If there is less crowding, then taking teeth out could give you too much space, which then causes its own problems, see below. Most people hate the idea in any case, especially for their children. So do we.
  • Widen the jaws. Used to be popular 80 plus years ago but fell completely out of favour. Now, with the swing of the orthodontic pendulum, its slowly coming back and we now use it frequently. Narrow jaws are very common and the method can work well for them – the extra width also looks attractive, reducing those dark corners of the mouth when you smile.
  • Make some teeth slimmer. “Slenderising” by filing between selected teeth. In mild to moderate crowding, especially when combined with jaw widening, it’s a very useful technique and really does make non-extraction a reality for many more people.

Remember, there is no going back if you extract teeth when you don’t need to.

Too much space could mean that

  • The arch can become smaller and too narrow, for a less attractive appearance.
  • Loss of lip support
  • Exacerbation of jaw joint/muscle problems.
  • Excess space can be difficult to keep closed and can tend to open up again, which is obviously going to affect the appearance.

The point of this isn’t to worry anyone, but we try to make sure people have all the information they need to make decisions during our consultations, and we believe extractions should be a last resort instead of routine.

Hopefully posting information in a forum like this is useful for our prospective patients! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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