11 Apr Your Teeth Alignment and Your Health—Why a Straight Smile Is a Healthy Smile
A tidy row of straight teeth will definitely make your smile look great and give your confidence a nice boost.
But that’s not all.
The alignment of your teeth also has a direct impact on your oral health. Are you planning to straighten your teeth with braces or clear aligners?
Here’s what you get to look forward to once your teeth are nice and straight.
It’s not just your teeth that stand to benefit from orthodontic treatment. Your gums will also thank you! Having straight teeth improves your gum health in two ways.
1. Improvements in gum/gingival recession
Gum tissue is sensitive to pressure. When your teeth drift out of line, they tug on your gums and make them recede. As you bite down on your misaligned teeth over the years, they’ll get pushed farther out of line, and this worsens the gum recession. Straightening your teeth relieves that pressure and can prevent your gums from receding the way they normally would around tipped and crowded teeth. Once your teeth are in healthy alignment, you can have treatment to improve areas of affected gum tissue to create an even healthier and more youthful-looking smile.
2. Decreased risk of gum disease
Also known as periodontitis, gum disease is a serious inflammatory condition that occurs when the gums react to an overgrowth of plaque bacteria. The inflammation can eventually move from the gums into the bone tissue and ligaments that surround your teeth. In severe cases, this can also result in tooth loss if you don’t get it treated. The gums between misaligned teeth are highly prone to developing periodontitis. Teeth that overlap each other or that are tipped out of alignment are difficult to clean, so they provide the perfect hideout for the plaque bacteria that triggers inflammation in gums.
Straight teeth are easy to clean, and they are less likely to provide places for bacteria to flourish. By straightening your teeth, you can significantly lower your risk of problems like gingivitis and gum disease.
Lower risk of tooth decay
Did you know that straightening your teeth now could spare you a root canal treatment in the future? Just as having straight teeth helps you avoid gum disease; it can also help you avoid developing new cavities. Contrary to popular belief, tooth decay is directly caused by bacteria, not sugar. But the germs that cause cavities are fueled by sugars and starches in the foods you eat, so your diet does play a role. The bacteria feast on carbohydrates in your mouth and then produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel and create the holes we know as cavities. Crooked teeth provide the perfect hideouts for decay-causing bacteria, and they also trap harmful food debris.
If you improve the spacing between your teeth, however, then your efforts to keep them clean by brushing and flossing will go a lot farther in lowering your risk of decay.
Less dental wear-and-tear
You’ll get more mileage out of teeth that are in healthy alignment. Your teeth are designed to bear the force of your bite in a very specific way, like “gears on a wheel.” Poorly aligned teeth are prone to uneven wear and even injury. Teeth that stick out at odd angles experience unnatural pressure when you bite and chew on them. Even teeth that appear mostly straight or just slightly crooked can wear down faster than your other teeth. This results in enamel loss or chipping. Having a crooked tooth also increases your risk of suffering a painful fracture in the event it gets bumped in an accident.
Improved bite function
The primary job of your teeth is to help you chew food, and straight teeth do that job much better than crooked teeth. When teeth don’t line up properly, chewing can be difficult at the least and uncomfortable at the worst.
Here are some signs that your poor teeth alignment is probably interfering with your bite:
- You avoid certain hard or crunchy foods
- You struggle to eat things like sandwiches, tacos, and pizza slices without cutting them up
- You can’t eat whole apples or corn-on-the-cob
- You constantly experience jaw pain or dental problems on one side of your mouth
- You often bite into your tongue or the inside of your cheeks or lips when you eat
Straightening your teeth could make a world of difference in the way you eat. More comfortable chewing could help you enjoy eating a greater variety of healthy foods, and that can have a significant impact on your overall health.
Reduced jaw pain
Have you ever been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder? Do you frequently experience pain on one side of your jaw? If you are experiencing TMJ pain, then you should see a doctor with experience in diagnosing and treating TMJ issues, as these can be quite complex. Straightening your teeth is not an automatic cure for jaw pain. But an uneven bite is a common cause of jaw pain, and uneven teeth are often the cause of an uneven bite. Some people do find that their jaw pain is relieved after having orthodontic treatment. It’s worth asking a TMJ dentist whether straightening your teeth might reduce your symptoms.
A word of caution about clear aligners and jaw pain
If you are seeking relief from jaw pain, DO NOT self-diagnose and attempt DIY orthodontic treatment. Online clear aligners may straighten your teeth, but they can’t correct your overall bite. There could be other jaw alignment issues that affect your bite and straightening individual teeth without taking those other factors into consideration could end up making your bite even worse. Always consult a dental professional in person before moving ahead with orthodontic treatment to correct your bite and reduce TMJ pain.
Get a healthier bite, the healthier way
Do you regret not getting braces in the past? It’s not too late to get started. Braces aren’t just for kids, anymore. Anyone can benefit from straightening their teeth at virtually any age. Even older adults can get healthier, more beautiful, and more comfortable smiles by having orthodontic treatment. From braces to clear aligners, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from when planning for a straighter and healthier smile. And while there’s also no shortage of DIY orthodontic treatments, there are risks associated with going it alone. Fortunately, you don’t have to.
Reveal Clear Aligners are designed to help you get a healthier smile through safe, convenient, and affordable treatment plans. Best of all, Reveal is a clear aligner that you can get from a local dentist or orthodontist you know and trust. By working together with a qualified professional, you’ll keep your mouth healthy throughout your entire course of treatment.
© 2021 Henry Schein Orthodontics
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