Is Orthodontic Treatment Purely Cosmetic?
We hear these types of questions from patients and patients’ parents all the time. Many people think straightening the teeth is unnecessary because it is “just cosmetic”. Make no mistake: orthodontic treatment does improve the cosmetic appearance of a smile. But that is not all it does. Orthodontic treatment provides several benefits that have nothing to do with the appearance of your teeth.
Straightening Teeth Lowers the Risk of Gum Disease
One of the most important advantages of straight teeth is the reduced risk of gum disease. Not only is it easier to remove dental plaque from straight teeth, but research studies have shown that crooked teeth actually collect different bacteria that are more likely to cause gum disease.
This is an important advantage as gum disease isn’t only an oral health problem. Scientists link gum disease with other medical conditions. Patients with chronic gum disease are more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Gum disease also affects your ability to control blood sugar, so it can actually worsen diabetes.
Straightening Teeth Improves Speech
Any speech therapist will tell you that having the teeth in the appropriate positions is essential to speaking correctly. Just as missing teeth can cause a lisp, teeth in the wrong place can cause multiple speech impediments. Young children with severely crowded teeth often have trouble learning various speech patterns and can even struggle to overcome speech defects if they straighten the teeth in adulthood.
With early orthodontic intervention, your orthodontist can help guide the permanent teeth into the correct position from the beginning, removing any hurdles to learning proper speech.
Straightening Teeth Improves Chewing Function
In a “perfect” bite, the upper and lower teeth should come together in a puzzle-piece fit, with the upper teeth covering the lower teeth like a lid on a box. Unfortunately, very rarely do people naturally have a perfect bite. When teeth are crowded or crooked, the bite is often uneven.
When teeth bite together unevenly, they receive improper amounts of force during chewing, clenching or grinding.
This can affect someone’s ability to chew their food properly. Chewing is important because it is the first step in the digestive process. Inadequate chewing can actually lead to nutritional deficiencies or GI problems.
Uneven forces on the teeth during chewing can also increase the wear and tear on teeth, leading to cracked teeth or flattened and shortened teeth.
Straightening Teeth Reduces TMJ Problems
TMJ problems range widely in the symptoms they can cause. Some people experience headaches and facial muscle tension. Others have pain in their ears and jaw joints. Still others grind their teeth down to short stumps.
One of the many causes of TMJ can be linked to issues with the bite pattern. As addressed in the earlier section, bite problems can affect your chewing ability. It can also lead to problems with the jaw joints, facial muscles and teeth.
Placing the upper and lower teeth into the correct arrangement, especially during adolescence, helps to stimulate proper jaw growth. Good jaw positioning and healthy joints lead to fewer TMJ problems over a patient’s lifetime.
More Questions about the Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment?
Call Empire Dental today to schedule a free consultation with one of our orthodontic experts. Dr. Davidson and his team offer orthodontic treatments including Invisalign and traditional metal braces. During your consult, Dr. Davidson will review a treatment plan with you and help you select the right orthodontic treatment for your mouth.