Let’s get it straight: Crooked teeth are actually the norm.

If you have perfectly straight teeth, most likely you have had braces, because a very small percentage of people have teeth that come in naturally aligned.

More than just aesthetics, the teeth in your top jaw and the teeth in the bottom jaw have to align properly and function together, so you can properly chew your food.

While genetics plays a role, habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing also are causes of misaligned jaws and teeth.

An infant who sucks on a thumb is changing the muscular balance between the tongue, the lips and the teeth. And a child with oversized tonsils has a tendency to hold the jaw forward and lower the tongue when breathing, and this develops an under bite. Even adults

Just like an orthodontist applies controlled pressure to move teeth to a favorable position, a person can also move their own teeth by pushing on them with their thumb or tongue; however, this usually results in an undesirable position.

Crooked teeth also can develop if there is not a complete set. When there is a missing tooth or an extra tooth, they move to adapt to the space causing the teeth to crowd and have a gap.

When orthodontics first was introduced, it was mostly to help improve the function of teeth. Nowadays, however, as people aspire to be ideal or perfect, there is more focus on aesthetics.

It has been reported by the American Association of Orthodontics that more than 80 percent of the U.S. population could benefit from some level of orthodontic care. The benefits are obvious: straighter teeth are easier to clean, help you chew better and look nicer. The key is you could benefit from braces but not necessarily need them, so you should consult with an orthodontist to evaluate how far along the scale you are from functional, aesthetic and healthy teeth.