Dental crowding occurs when teeth erupt or grow in slightly out of position. The out of position teeth then push into the territory of correctly formed teeth to the point that the teeth start to overlap. Dental crowding can cause bite and chewing difficulties as well as self esteem issues particularly if the crowding is near the front of your mouth.
Your dentist has a few different ways to potentially correct teeth crowding near the front of your mouth.
If you are young enough that your teeth are still moving, braces can provide the fastest route to fixing the tooth crowding without compromising any of the teeth. But braces can also work if you are older and your teeth are set in place.
Braces usually take the form of metal contraptions that you might not want to sport as an adult. You could opt for clear braces, which aren't highly noticeable and come as two tight trays that you can take off while eating, if needed. The dentist will ask to see you periodically to monitor the progress with the current set of trays and then issue a new set of trays until the teeth are properly positioned.
Teeth crowding sometimes happens because a small section of the jaw moved out of place during development and took its attached teeth with it. Your dentist will have to fix this problem with jaw surgery. The dentist will remove at least a small piece of jawbone in order to shift the remaining bone into a more natural position that will align your teeth properly.
Depending on the size of bone that needs removing, you might also lose one of the crowded teeth in the process. However, the positioning of the jaw can make the missing tooth less noticeable even without the use of any kind of dental replacement option.
Sometimes even braces and jaw surgery aren't enough to get all of the teeth back into proper positioning. If there's one tooth that's making the treatment process difficult, your dentist might extract that tooth so that the others can move into the correct places with less resistance.
Dentists try to save natural teeth as much as possible, so the dentist will only recommend extraction if there's no other option. If the removal does leave a bit of a tooth gap, there are cosmetic dentistry techniques like resin bonds and porcelain veneers that can fix that gap.