Our perception of orthodontic braces has changed from a painful and (let’s face it) unsightly instrument of beautification to an important part of dental hygiene. Maybe you were put off by memories of bullies making fun of kids with orthodontic headgear (which resembled wire helmets more than braces). Thankfully we’ve come a long way from that. Here’s why you should consider getting braces:
1. Prevention of Orthodontic Problems
When teeth are crooked or crowded, it’s difficult to clean them well. No matter how well or long you brush and floss, there will always be angles and spots that your cleaning efforts won’t reach. This results in the buildup of plaque from food particles. Leftover sugar in the mouth leads to cavities and tooth decay. In the long run, this also causes halitosis or bad breath. While you may think that mints are a quick fix for bad breath, most mints are still candy—they contain sugar, which only adds to your risk of cavity and tooth decay.
2. A Longer-Lasting Smile
Letting crooked teeth go unchecked into adulthood can be detrimental for your long-term oral health. Some think that tooth fall is a natural part of the ageing process, but lots of people grow old with all their teeth still intact. Having straight and evenly-spaced teeth is definitely helpful for that. Adults with malocclusion or bad bites are often advised by dentists to get restorations, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Straight and even teeth are healthier and are more likely to last a person’s lifetime.
3. Improved Digestion
When you were younger you were always told to chew your food well, and that’s great advice for digestion. However, your bite affects your chew pattern. Straight teeth will help you chew more efficiently for better digestion. A good bite not only produces the perfect U-shape on your sandwich; it also means that your upper and lower set of teeth meet at the optimal angle to break down your food.
4. Prevention of Heart Problems
Studies have linked the presence of gum disease with the probability of heart disease. Gum disease is common among people who have crooked or crowded teeth. It occurs when you’re negligent with gum care—something that is likely to happen if your teeth are crowded in some parts. How your teeth are spaced also affects your gums; where your teeth are crowded, there’s less space for your gums to hold them, and this causes stress to build up in that area.
5. Avoiding the Need for Surgery
Uneven alignment and distribution of teeth adds stress to your jaw. At first you dismiss it as pains in the neck, cheeks, and face. Maybe you start getting migraines often and you ignore it. It’s likely you won’t even find out these pains are connected to your teeth and jaw if you don’t make regular trips to the dentist to check for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Braces, when used with elastics or with headgear, can help realign the jaw to prevent stiffness, locking, and pain in the jaw. It’s better to have your teeth straightened and jaws aligned than to have to deal with surgery when it’s too late.
6. A Fairer Share of Work
If you have class 2 malocclusion—more commonly known as an overbite or retrognathic bite, when your upper jaw and teeth severely overlap the lower set—your lower front teeth are taking on too much work and will wear faster than your other teeth. An open bite, on the other hand, wears your back teeth. Class 3 malocclusion or an prognathic bite or an underbite, when the lower jaw protrudes, causes stress on the upper front teeth. Using braces will help correct your bite and distribute the work evenly among your teeth.
7. Better Speaking Patterns
Crooked teeth can affect your lip closure and your tongue function. The upper teeth are supposed to protect your inner cheeks from getting bitten while the lower teeth protect the tongue. Imagine the hassle of accidentally biting either and how this can disrupt the way you talk and eat. Anomalies in dental hygiene and alignment and can give you speech impediments such as lisps. These can be corrected by having your teeth straightened. While people with braces sometimes have lisps or make whistling sounds, this goes away after the treatment.
With the advent of more aesthetically pleasing braces, it’s now less of a hassle to have your teeth straightened. Ceramic braces that blend in with the color of the teeth are increasing in popularity; other have their braces installed behind their teeth instead of in front. Know your options better by consulting your orthodontist. Arlington, Virginia hosts a number of clinics that help patients achieve better smiles and healthier lives.
HumanaOne Dental: Dental Braces: Understand the Benefits and Cost
Medline Plus: Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
MyAbsoluteSmile.com: The health benefits of invisible braces
New South Wales Ministry of Health: Dental anomalies and effects on speech
New York Times: Malocclusion of Teeth
Rigali & Walder Orthodontics: Health Benefits of Braces
Toronto Orthodontics: Benefits of Braces