Improved health comes along with a beautiful smile.
Story: Dr. Steven Moravec
The most obvious benefit of wearing braces is your teeth become straighter, which, in turn, produces a more confident smile.
While studies have shown that straight teeth and a nice smile have a positive effect on self-esteem, social interactions, and job prospects, I believe the numerous health benefits received as a result of wearing braces shouldn’t be discounted.
Wearing braces can improve physical health as well. Many people are surprised to learn that a badly aligned bite or crowded teeth lead to many types of health problems, such as headaches, jaw pain, teeth grinding, gum disease, and general body inflammation.
Here are some of the health benefits of straightened teeth:
- Prevents tooth decay.
Straight teeth are easier to clean, which means keeping tartar away and preventing cavities is easier. This is especially true if you’re dealing with overlapping teeth or wide gaps.
- Prevents gum disease.
Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic medical conditions. The connection between gum disease and chronic health conditions seems to be inflammation—the body’s natural response to an infection or injury. Inflammation is caused by tartar buildup and bacteria, and because you can control tartar better by having straight teeth that are easier to clean, you are in better position to prevent gum disease.
- Reduces instances of cracked, broken teeth.
Teeth were designed to mesh together, with pressure spread relatively evenly across the top and bottom. Irregular teeth cause more pressure to be exerted on companion teeth than they were meant to withstand. Consequently, you may find yourself with a broken tooth. Straightening and realignment will not only make those teeth look better but will also save teeth that otherwise might be lost to disease, fracture, or wear.
- Helps with sleep apnea.
While sleep apnea is often associated with overweight adults, orthodontists and dental professionals are finding the condition afflicts children as well. If the bite is corrected as a child, it can reduce mouth breathing, snoring, and, in some cases, sleep apnea itself. Orthodontically repositioning the bite also can reduce the severity of sleep apnea as an adult, but it’s always necessary to be assessed first by a physician who specializes in sleeping disorders before undertaking orthodontic or dental procedures for sleep apnea. Some dental practices in Healthy Living’s readership areas are offering a dental device to aid with sleep disorders.
- Reduces risk of jaw disorders.
Some studies show that the jaw joint benefits from straight teeth. Misaligned teeth can result in a skewed bite, causing the jaw to overcompensate. This puts a heavy strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in tension headaches and jaw pain. Chewing, biting, and speaking abilities are optimized when you have straight teeth. TMJ has also been known to affect hearing in some cases.
Straight teeth are more than just a cosmetic concern. The health of your mouth can impact your entire body, and the benefits of having straightened, realigned teeth with orthodontic care are a big part of oral and whole-body health.
About the writer →Dr. Steven J. Moravec (stevemortho.com) owns Moravec Orthodontics in Plainfield, Illinois, and is the author of “Going the Extra Smile: Merging Technology And Expertise for a Lifetime of Smiles.” A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, he earned his master’s degree in orthodontics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.