Teeth Crowding: Causes, Pain, and Remedies

Teeth Crowding pain relief
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Teeth crowding is a common dental condition characterized by insufficient space in the mouth for all the teeth to fit naturally. Apart from affecting one’s appearance, teeth crowding can also cause discomfort and lead to other dental problems. In this article we will focus on the causes of teeth crowding, the reasons behind the pain it can produce, short-term pain relief methods, and the longer-term solutions.

Teeth Crowding

Teeth overcrowding, also known as dental crowding, occurs when there is not enough space in the jaw for teeth to align properly, leading to overlapping or misaligned teeth. This condition can be mild, moderate, or severe, causing not only aesthetic concerns but also functional issues and potential health problems if left untreated.

There are several factors that can cause teeth crowding, including:

  1. Genetics: Often, the predisposition to teeth crowding is passed down through families. Genetic factors and inherited characteristics determine both jaw size and the pattern of tooth development. If either parent had crowded teeth, their offspring might face a similar issue due to the inherited size and shape of their jaw or teeth, leading to overcrowding.
  1. Dental Arch Size: The dental arch, which is the curved structure that forms the shape of the mouth, plays a significant role in teeth alignment. A smaller or more constricted dental arch doesn’t provide adequate space for teeth to fit comfortably, resulting in crowding.
  1. Tooth Size: The proportion of individual teeth matters. People with larger teeth might experience dental crowding, especially if their jaw is not spacious enough to accommodate the size of each tooth.
  1. Early Loss of Primary Teeth: Primary or baby teeth act as placeholders for future permanent teeth. If they fall out prematurely, it can disrupt the space meant for adult teeth. This early loss can cause the permanent teeth to erupt out of place, leading to misalignment and crowding.
  1. Habits like Thumb-sucking and Pacifier Use: Certain childhood habits, such as prolonged thumb-sucking or excessive pacifier use, exert pressure on the teeth and the dental arch. Over time, this can cause the arch to change shape or position, making the teeth crowded or misaligned.
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Why Does Teeth Crowding Cause Pain?

Teeth crowding, a common dental issue, not only affects one’s appearance but can also lead to discomfort and pain. The overcrowding of teeth due to limited space can have several adverse implications on dental health and overall well-being. But why does this misalignment cause pain? Let’s check the reasons behind the discomfort that arises from teeth crowding.

See also: Toothache or Earache: Identifying and Treating the Pain

Pressure on Adjacent Teeth and Jaws

Teeth crowding occurs when there is insufficient space in the mouth for teeth, leading to overlapping or twisted positions. The pressure exerted on adjacent teeth and jaws can cause discomfort and pain. In some cases, ligaments attaching teeth to the jawbone might experience strain, resulting in heightened sensitivity when chewing or grinding teeth.

Gum Irritation and Potential Inflammation

Crowded teeth can make it difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene, potentially leading to gum irritation and inflammation. As overlapping teeth reduce the ability to clean and floss effectively, plaque buildup may increase, causing gum infections and dental abscesses, both of which can be painful.

The Onset of Related Dental Issues

Overlapping teeth creates more surfaces for bacteria and plaque to accumulate, increasing the risk of cavities. Infections, decay, and cavities can cause throbbing tooth pain, as the dentin layer of the teeth is affected. 

Worth Knowing

A study featured in the European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry finds that around the world, 56% of people experience malocclusion, with this condition affecting both genders equally.

Non-Invasive Pain Relief Methods

Dealing with the discomfort of teeth overcrowding can be challenging. Fortunately, there are several short-term, non-invasive methods available to help alleviate the immediate pain:

Over-the-Counter Solutions

Over-the-counter (OTC) solutions are readily available for dental discomfort, including pain caused by teeth overcrowding. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate the discomfort. 

Additionally, topical oral gels and rinses with ingredients such as benzocaine or lidocaine can provide temporary numbness in the affected area.

Ice or Cold Compress

Ice or cold compresses can be effective non-invasive methods to address discomfort stemming from teeth overcrowding. When applied externally to the affected cheek or jaw area, the cold temperature can reduce blood flow, leading to decreased inflammation and pain. Cold compresses can provide immediate, although temporary, relief by numbing the region and lessening the sensation of pain. However, it’s important to ensure the compress is not directly applied to the skin; using a cloth or towel as a barrier is advisable.

Cold Drinks

Cold drinks can offer temporary relief from the discomfort caused by teeth overcrowding. The cold temperature can numb the affected areas in the mouth, reducing pain. When using this method, it’s advised to sip the drink without allowing it to stay in the mouth for too long to avoid increasing tooth sensitivity. Utilizing a straw can help target specific areas of discomfort.

Saline Rinse

A saline rinse can be a simple yet effective non-invasive pain relief method for discomfort associated with teeth overcrowding. By dissolving salt in warm water and swishing it around the mouth, the saline solution can help reduce oral inflammation and alleviate pain. Saline rinses not only provide a soothing effect on swollen gums and irritated tissues but also aid in flushing out debris or bacteria that could exacerbate discomfort.

Worth Knowing

To prepare a salt water rinse, dissolve one teaspoon of table salt into a glass of warm water. Swish the mixture gently around your mouth for about one minute, then spit it out. Repeat this process whenever you experience more pain.

Orthodontic Wax

Orthodontic wax provides relief for those wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances that might cause irritation due to teeth overcrowding. Placing it over sharp or protruding components creates a barrier that prevents them from digging into the cheeks or lips, reducing discomfort and preventing sores.

Long-term Solutions for Teeth Crowding Pain

Tooth Extraction

To address the discomfort of teeth crowding, dentists might recommend tooth extraction. Removing a tooth provides necessary space, allowing adjacent teeth to settle or be adjusted during orthodontic treatment. Proper alignment can enhance oral hygiene effectiveness, lessening the likelihood of cavities and gum disease and eliminating discomfort associated with crowding.


Braces gradually shift teeth into correct positions, alleviating discomfort and pain from crowding. Proper alignment facilitates easier cleaning and reduces risks of dental issues such as cavities and gum disease. While the initial placement can cause some discomfort, the overall benefits include a well-aligned bite and reduced pain from overcrowding.

See also: 11 Things to Help with the Pain of Braces: Expert Tips and Strategies

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are positioned behind the teeth, making them less visible than traditional braces. They function by applying consistent pressure to move teeth into correct positions, effectively addressing teeth crowding and associated discomfort. Although they might initially cause challenges with speech and eating, patients usually adjust over time. Proper alignment facilitated by lingual braces can improve oral hygiene and reduce the likelihood of dental complications. Choosing lingual braces provides both an aesthetic advantage and a solution to the pain caused by overcrowding.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are an effective solution for teeth crowding. These transparent, plastic trays are tailored to fit an individual’s teeth, gradually shifting them to proper positions. By correcting crowding, they help reduce associated pain and discomfort. The discreet nature of clear aligners makes them a preferred choice for many, especially adults and teenagers. They can be removed during meals and for cleaning, which simplifies oral hygiene routines.

See also: Are At-Home Teeth Aligners Safe?



Byte is a well-known brand that offers a lifetime guarantee for your aligners. This means that if your teeth don’t stay in the desired treatment position afterward, you’ll receive additional impression kits, treatment plans, and sets of aligners at no additional cost to correct any misalignments.

Check out Byte Aligners


Candid is a highly regarded aligner product with a treatment approach similar to Invisalign. Unlike the other brands mentioned, Candid doesn’t offer a direct-to-home ordering service. Instead, a qualified orthodontist will assess your eligibility for treatment. The advantage is that you won’t need regular appointments after starting treatment. Candid aligners are suitable for addressing both mild and severe spacing issues.

Check out Candid Aligners

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding, using a durable resin material, is a procedure sometimes utilized to address minor teeth crowding issues. When teeth are slightly misaligned, dental professionals can apply and shape this composite resin to the tooth’s surface, correcting its position or appearance. Once the desired shape is achieved, ultraviolet light hardens the material. Besides aesthetic improvement, dental bonding can alleviate discomfort associated with minor crowding by modifying the tooth’s shape or position. This method is less invasive than other orthodontic solutions and can be completed in a single dental visit.

See also: Cost of Dental Bonding


Teeth crowding presents both aesthetic and functional challenges, including discomfort and pain. While short-term remedies can provide immediate relief, long-term solutions are essential for overall dental health. Addressing teeth crowding improves oral health, reduces the risk of related dental issues, and eliminates associated pain. It’s important to be aware of the available options and collaborate with dental professionals to determine the best course of action for their specific needs. Proper intervention and care can lead to improved oral health and a significant reduction in discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does teeth-shifting pain last?

The duration of pain associated with tooth displacement varies from person to person and the extent of tooth movement. After getting braces or clear aligners, initial discomfort can persist for a few days to a couple of weeks. This discomfort occurs due to the pressure on the teeth and the adjustment of surrounding tissues. Over-the-counter pain relievers and orthodontic wax may help reduce this discomfort.

What helps tooth pain caused by crowding?

Tooth pain caused by crowding can be quite uncomfortable. Here are some suggestions to alleviate the pain:

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Non-prescription pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide temporary relief.

Cold Compress: Applying a cold pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes can reduce inflammation and numb the pain.

Saltwater Rinse: Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe pain and reduce inflammation.

Orthodontic Treatment: If crowding is the underlying issue, seeking consultation from an orthodontist is recommended. They might suggest braces, aligners, or other treatments to correct the issue.

Avoid Certain Foods: Stay away from very cold, hot, sweet, or crunchy foods that might exacerbate pain.

Can crowded teeth cause nerve pain?

Yes, crowded teeth can potentially cause nerve pain. Crowding leads to misalignment, increasing pressure on nearby teeth and their nerves. This pressure can result in symptoms like sharp pain, tingling sensations, or heightened sensitivity as nerves become compressed or irritated.

Do crowded teeth worsen with age?

Yes, crowded teeth can worsen with age. As we grow older, our jawbone naturally continues to change, and teeth tend to shift due to various factors like genetics, habits, and dental wear. This can exacerbate existing crowding issues or create new ones.

Can crowding cause tooth pain?

Yes, crowding can cause tooth pain. When teeth are overcrowded or misaligned, they may exert pressure on neighboring teeth, resulting in discomfort or pain. This pressure can irritate the nerves within the affected teeth, leading to sensations of pain, sensitivity, or even headaches.


Lombardo, G., Vena, F., Negri, P., Pagano, S., Barilotti, C., Paglia, L., Colombo, S., Orso, M., Cianetti, S., Worldwide prevalence of malocclusion in the different stages of dentition: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2020 Jun;21(2):115-122. DOI: 10.23804/ejpd.2020.21.02.05. Available online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32567942/

Cenzato, N., Nobili, A., Maspero, C., Prevalence of Dental Malocclusions in Different Geographical Areas: Scoping Review. Dent J (Basel). 2021 Oct; 9(10): 117. DOI: 10.3390/dj9100117. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8534899/

Evaluation of Pain, Discomfort, and Acceptance during the Orthodontic Treatment of Class III Malocclusion Using Bone-Anchored Intermaxillary Traction Versus the Removable Mandibular Retractor: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research 14(3). 2020. DOI:10.7860/JCDR/2020/43577.13580. Available online at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340250804

Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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