Undergoing orthodontic treatment to straighten and realign crooked teeth is commonly considered a cosmetic option focused on making a person’s teeth and smile appear more attractive and well-cared for. But the truth is, orthodontics is about a lot more than aesthetics; having braces can also help you enjoy healthier teeth and gums and ward off tooth decay, gum disease and even bite-related problems like temporomandibular joint disorder and chronic headaches.
Crooked Teeth and Your Health
Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria, some of which are “good” and some of which play a major role in tooth decay and gum disease, the leading cause of adult tooth loss. These bacteria make their home in the plaque and tartar, or calculus, that forms along the gum line, between teeth and in other hard-to-clean areas, or in tiny fissures and ridges in the tooth surfaces.
Regular brushing and flossing are vitally important in the fight against decay and gum disease, helping to dislodge and remove bacteria as well as plaque and food particles to keep teeth and gums healthy. When teeth are straight and properly aligned, cleaning them is pretty straightforward; as long as you know the proper techniques to use (your hygienist can help), regular brushing and flossing combined with twice-yearly professional cleanings can enable you to enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile, as well as fresher breath and whiter teeth.
But when teeth are crooked or misaligned, cleaning between and around them becomes much more difficult. Cracks and crevices are much more prevalent when teeth aren’t properly lined up or when they’re crowded into a space that’s just too small, and that means there are lots of places where bacteria, plaque and food particles can hide.
Once bacteria along the gum line find a place they can call “home,” they begin multiplying, a process that results in the production of a substance that’s actually toxic to gums and teeth. When this toxin is produced, it causes the gums to move away from the surface of teeth, causing more of the tooth surface to become exposed and increasing the risk of decay. As gums pull away from the surfaces of the teeth, the bacteria are able to invade deeper levels of tissue, eventually reaching the tooth root and causing the tooth to become loose and to fall out.
Crooked Teeth and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
Increased risks of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss are just part of the problems associated with having misaligned, crowded or crooked teeth. Teeth that aren’t spaced properly can also cause problems with the way you bite and chew – your bite mechanics and bite balance – resulting in uneven forces that can place additional strain on the jaw joints. This strain is a primary cause of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. People with TMJ have jaw pain and fatigue in addition to chronic headaches, and they can also experience uneven tooth wear that can increase the risk of decay. Having braces to realign teeth that are crowded and crooked can help rebalance the bite and improve bite mechanics so these issues can be resolved and painful symptoms are relieved.
Crooked Teeth and Overall Wellness
There’s one more reason to consider braces or braces alternatives like Invisalign braces: Studies have shown the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease may also play a role in more serious health issues like heart disease. That means reducing the risks of tooth decay and gum disease can be a big step toward better overall health and wellness. And of course, because having a healthy-looking smile can help you feel better about the way you look, there’s also an emotional or psychological benefit to orthodontic treatment that shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, people who are more confident are also less likely to be depressed, and that can have major implications on your overall health as well.
If you have crooked teeth or teeth that are crowded or misaligned, you owe it to yourself – and your health – to learn more. If you have questions about braces, we can help. Call our office today to schedule an evaluation and take that first step toward better oral and overall health.
Ready to discuss your unique options for long-term reduction in TMJ-pain? Schedule your FREE consultation today!