Straight, healthy-looking teeth can be a real confidence-booster. When you know your smile looks its best, you can’t help feeling more confident about your appearance and about the impression you’re making on others. Since straight, properly aligned teeth make such a big difference in the way you look, it’s easy to think of orthodontics as purely a cosmetic treatment, with benefits that are restricted to the aesthetic aspects of your teeth and smile. But actually, having straight teeth offers benefits that go well beyond good looks. In fact, having teeth that are properly aligned can reduce your risks of some pretty serious oral health problems.
When teeth are aligned, they’re in a straight row with no spaces in between. And in that position, they provide a surprisingly strong barrier against decay-causing germs. Located close together, it’s hard for germs to get in between teeth, and even if they do, it’s really hard for them to multiply and cause decay (or cavities). Plus, straight teeth are a lot easier to clean with brushing and flossing. That means food debris won’t stick around, and bacteria won’t have access to the sugars they need to reproduce and multiply. Plus, acids are washed away more easily, preventing enamel erosion that increases the risk of cavities.
On the other hand, crooked teeth form lots of tiny gaps and nooks where bacteria and bits of food can hide. These areas are really hard to clean with brushing and flossing. And that gives bacteria a lot of opportunity to grow and flourish, significantly increasing the likelihood you’ll develop cavities (sometimes, a lot of cavities).
Those same gaps and crevices that increase your risk of cavities also increase your risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease (or periodontal disease) develops when bacteria collect along the gum line and between your teeth. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxic substances that irritate your gum tissue. Irritation makes your gums recede, or move down the tooth surface, exposing more of your tooth surface to disease-causing bacteria. It also creates openings or “pockets” that allow the bacteria to reach the deeper parts of your tooth. Over time, those bacteria spread all the way down to the root, causing infections that lead to tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss in adults. When teeth are aligned properly, it’s a lot easier to eliminate harmful bacteria along the gum line. That means you’ll have a much lower risk of developing gum disease, and you’ll also be much less likely to have tooth loss, as well.
Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ occurs when your bite isn’t properly balanced. When your teeth are straight, they “line up” with each other — top teeth and lower teeth work in pairs to help you bite and chew normally. But when your teeth are crooked, that balance is disrupted, and that puts a lot of excess and uneven strain on your jaw joints. Over time, the uneven force on the jaws causes the joints to become irritated and inflamed, resulting in a lot of jaw and facial pain, along with chronic headaches. An unbalanced bite also causes uneven wear and strain on your teeth, which can lead to more cavities, weak tooth roots, tooth fractures, and even tooth loss.
Invisalign©️ and other orthodontic treatments can help prevent or relieve TMJ by reestablishing a normal, healthy bite balance. When your teeth are aligned the way they’re supposed to be, they “work” normally, and that can reduce strain on your jaw joints, as well as reducing the symptoms and complications that excess strain can cause.
Multiple studies have shown that the bacteria that cause gum disease are involved in other diseases, as well, including heart disease and stroke, some cancers, dementia, osteoporosis, respiratory infections, and type 2 diabetes. By reducing your risk of gum disease (and preventing bacteria from building up in your mouth), you could reduce your risks of these diseases, as well.
Having your teeth straightened is about more than improving the way your smile looks — it can help you stay healthy, too. Invisalign is a popular alternative to regular braces, helping patients enjoy straighter teeth, a more beautiful smile, and improved oral health in less time and with less hassle. To learn more about Invisalign treatment at The Dental Co. of Leesburg, book an appointment online today.