Straight Teeth – It’s Not Just About A Pretty Smile: The Medical Benefits of Braces
– Dr. Lakshmi Nair
B.D.S, M.D.S in Orthodontics
Braces have become a common treatment for both teenagers and adults who want a straighter, more beautiful looking smile. A pretty smile is nice, but there are also medical benefits of braces, some of which may surprise you. Medical Benefits of Braces
While one of the goals of getting braces is to correct crooked teeth, they are also used to correct poorly aligned bites. A “bite” is the dental term that explains how your upper and lower teeth fit together. When you have gaps in your bite from missing teeth or poorly aligned teeth, it can impact your ability to break food down, a critical part of healthy digestion. A poorly aligned bite can impact one’s ability to chew properly and even to eat. If left untreated, a misaligned bite can become painful as your jaw has to work harder to chew which can result in lock jaw, TMJ disorder, and jaw pain related headaches, all of which may require complicated dental and medical treatment.
Improved Alignment of the Jaw
Overcrowded teeth or jaw misalignment can cause some speech impediments. The good news is orthodontic treatment can address both jaw and palate alignment that cause the speech impediments. As a part of the orthodontic treatment, an expander may need to be used to widen the palate before braces are applied An expansion in your palate can also result in better breathing, less snoring, and potentially improved ear and sinus issues that are a result of jaw misalignment as well. In fact, proper jaw alignment can change the way you look by bringing your face into proper proportions.
Better Oral Care Habits
When you have crowded and misaligned teeth, they are harder to clean. Parts of the tooth may be hiding behind another tooth, making proper brushing and flossing almost impossible. When teeth can’t be properly cleaned, bacteria can build up, and this bacteria leads to gum disease and cavities. By straightening crowded teeth, brushing and flossing should be naturally improved. Good oral care habits include brushing twice a day, using mouthwash and flossing daily. For those with braces, the need for good oral care becomes even more important to prevent bad breath, gum disease, and staining of teeth. With braces, extra care needs to be taken to properly brush and floss between and around the brackets and wires. This can create new habits that, along with more regular visits to the dentist, will result in better habits that will last a lifetime.
Confidence is shown to lead to more overall success in life. When people hide their smile due to embarrassment, they are less likely to take the risks required to go after a top job or to ask for a promotion. When a person is no longer embarrassed by their smile, they naturally feel more confidence which is reported to lead to leads to more happiness, greater productivity, less social anxiety and ultimately better health. With improved function of your smile, better oral care habits and more confidence, it’s clear the medical benefits of braces are just as important, if not more important, than a nice-looking smile.