Your teeth can do many things on their own, such as erupt, grow or sense pressure when you bite down. However, although your teeth are capable of movement, in most cases, they cannot straighten without the help of an orthodontist.
That's not to say that teeth won't move on their own. They will, but they are programmed to do so only under certain conditions.
Young Teeth Toward Specific Points
When a child's primary teeth begin to give way for the incoming secondary teeth, the secondary teeth grow into the sites left behind by the first set. On occasion, a child's jawbone may be too small to accommodate an emerging secondary tooth. When this happens, the tooth may erupt in the wrong position, or it may be crooked.
However, because children's jawbones continue to grow until they are 18-21, more space will become available. In this case, teeth that were previously crooked or misaligned may shift into their proper position. Orthodontists often assist with this process. Once the jaw stops growing, however, misaligned teeth will require braces.
Teeth Migrate to Compensate
Another way that teeth move, which may resemble straightening at times, is by moving to help take the added strain left by a missing tooth. If you lose a tooth, the support that it once provided the surrounding teeth with is lost. When this happens, the nearby teeth naturally begin to lean. They do this to provide the surrounding teeth with support while you are eating.
However, this process doesn't always turn out for the best as teeth that move in this way can affect your bite and stop you from eating or speaking comfortably. Interestingly, this movement can sometimes cause previously crooked teeth to appear straighter. This is not, however, nature's way of straightening teeth.
Nature Needs an Orthodontist's Help
Teeth move by traveling through bone. However, once your jawbone stops growing, they have little reason to move. Moreover, the process of moving teeth through bone toward a set point requires the skills of an orthodontist. Only they can determine the distances and the fractions by which your teeth need to move in order to be in alignment.
A child with a slightly crooked tooth can expect a little help from nature. However, adults receive no such assistance. Teeth cannot straighten on their own. If a crooked smile is harming your self-esteem, seek out an orthodontist so that you can understand how Invisalign braces can help you.