Of course, having straight teeth looks amazing. However, the positive effects of braces and Invisalign go beyond the appearance of your smile. Why exactly does having straight teeth matter? It’s important because there are proven health, social and even psychological benefits. As a Papillion orthodontist, Dr. Hawley’s goal is to balance function and aesthetics to give you results that positively impact all areas of your life. Here are some of the reasons orthodontic treatment is so important:
Health Benefits of Straight Teeth
One of the biggest positive effects of braces or Invisalign is improved oral health. Oral health is important because it’s actually tied to your overall health and can have a major influence on your quality of life. These are the main health benefits of straight teeth:
Decreases the Risk of Tooth Decay – Straight teeth are easier to clean because you have better access for brushing and flossing. When teeth are crooked and misaligned, there are more places for plaque to hide. When not brushed away, the bacteria in plaque interact with the food you eat to release acids, which eventually can cause cavities. Tooth decay can be expensive to treat and it also may lead to pain and tooth loss.
Healthier Gums – As we said, aligning the teeth lets you brush and floss properly, which gets rid of plaque. When plaque gets stuck between crooked teeth and you aren’t able to reach it to eliminate it, it can cause inflammation and infection in the gums. In its earliest stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis. You’ll often experience red, swollen or bleeding gums. This eventually progresses into periodontitis if not remedied. Periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease, is a leading cause of tooth loss because the toxins in the plaque eat away at the bone and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. It’s also a great example of the overall health and oral health connection because gum disease has been tied to conditions like diabetes, premature birth, stroke and heart disease.
Eliminates Uneven Wear and Teeth Grinding – When the teeth don’t come together correctly it may lead to uneven wear of the enamel and small chips in the teeth. Improving the bite can also be helpful in lessening teeth grinding, known as bruxism.
Improves Your Ability to Chew Properly – Having the ideal bite lets you chew and speak properly. Productive chewing is crucial for being able to eat a well-balanced diet that contains all of your necessary vitamins and minerals, making this another of the important health benefits of straight teeth and an aligned bite.
Keeps Certain Injuries at Bay – When teeth stick out, or protrude, particularly the top front teeth, they’re much more susceptible to injury. Orthodontic treatment can shift the teeth back into their correct places to keep them out of harm’s way.
Can Open the Airway and Help With Sleep Apnea – When the position or size of the jaw or craniofacial abnormalities are at the root of sleep apnea, orthodontic treatment can often be helpful. In children, sometimes a custom mouthpiece or interceptive orthodontic treatment that involves appliances followed by a round of braces or Invisalign Teen can cure sleep apnea and prevent its related health implications. In adults, orthodontic treatment combined with a surgical plan may be beneficial.
Keeps the Jawbone Strong and Healthy – Significant spacing or undue stress on the gums and teeth from a misaligned bite can lead to the breakdown of the bones that support the teeth. This may result in tooth loss and pain. Fixing the bite and straightening the teeth helps prevent this.
Aligns the Jaw to Reduce Aches and Discomfort – When the bite isn’t correct, it may lead to uneven bite forces or stress on the jaw joint, which in turn can cause TMJ pain, headaches and migraines.
Makes Room for Dental Implants in Some Cases – If you have missing teeth, sometimes, orthodontic treatment is the best way to create enough space to allow you to get dental implants. Dental implants restore your ability to chew and speak properly.
Social Benefits of Having Straight Teeth
In the ideal world, our appearance wouldn’t so heavily influence others’ first impressions of us. Unfortunately, however, it does and people often make snap judgments based on things like what we’re wearing or our smile. A study in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics found that people with ideal smiles were perceived as more likely to be hired for a job and more intelligent. In another study, subjects rated people with straight teeth as more successful, healthier, smarter, happier and wealthier. Our society places a lot of importance on smiles. When you have a straight, stunning one, it can give you an edge in a variety of situations, including your career.
A Healthy Smile and Confidence
For younger patients and teens who are in their developmental years, feeling self-conscious about their smile or being teased about the appearance of their teeth can have a lasting effect. When they gain confidence from orthodontic treatment, it gives them a big boost in self-esteem and self-esteem is tied to improved school performance, the ability to resist peer pressure and a willingness to try new experiences.
For adults, confidence also plays a big role in their quality of life. Confident people often feel good about tackling challenges and making connections. Studies have found there are positive psychological effects that can come from getting orthodontic treatment. In a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Invisalign, 92% of adult respondents who straightened their teeth said having a great smile was important for their confidence. 78% said this confidence gave them the courage to attempt something they wouldn’t have done before straightening their teeth.
As you can see, the benefits of having straight teeth are a whole lot more significant than a simple cosmetic enhancement. The long term effects of orthodontics are pretty profound and straightening your teeth is a surefire way to improve your oral health, overall health and confidence. To learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment, schedule a free consultation with our Papillion orthodontist Dr. Hawley today!