As someone who had braces as a teenager, I can tell you firsthand that the cosmetic benefits of braces and clear aligners are incredibly important. When you’re happy with how your smile looks, it gives you a huge boost in self-esteem and confidence. This can really be life changing for a lot of people, myself included!
But while improving the appearance of your smile is amazing and nothing to take lightly, it’s not the only reason to consider orthodontic treatment. Having straight teeth and a properly aligned, functional bite also enhances your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the key health benefits of braces and clear aligner treatment.
Lowers Your Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
One of the most crucial benefits of straight teeth is that they’re easier to thoroughly clean. Large spaces or gaps between the teeth trap food debris and plaque (the sticky bacterial film that clings to the teeth), and it can be difficult to reach all of the surfaces of crowded teeth with your toothbrush and dental floss.
Plaque releases acids whenever you eat or drink anything with sugar or starches in it (which is pretty much everything aside from plain water). These acids leach minerals from your tooth enamel. If plaque isn’t removed regularly, over time, the acid attacks cause tooth decay. As tooth decay progresses, a hole forms in the tooth, which is what we call a cavity.
Untreated cavities can result in pain, infection, and even the need to have teeth extracted. In rare cases, a dental infection can spread to other areas of the body causing serious complications.
When plaque accumulates around the gumline and in between the teeth, the bacteria and toxins can also lead to inflammation and infection in the gum tissue, known as gum disease. Gum disease in its earliest stages is called gingivitis. Gingivitis can be reversed with professional dental care and a dedicated oral hygiene routine.
If not reversed, gingivitis turns into periodontitis, the more advanced form of gum disease. Periodontitis can be managed, but not cured, and it’s a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. This is because the infection causes the tooth-supporting tissues and bone to deteriorate.
Wards Off Excessive or Uneven Wear of Tooth Enamel
Another of the health benefits of braces and clear aligners is that by straightening the teeth, they help to distribute your chewing forces evenly. When you have misaligned teeth and problems with your bite (the way the upper and lower teeth come together), the teeth that do meet bear the brunt of your chewing and will wear down prematurely.
This excessive wear of the tooth enamel may be painful, put your teeth at risk of chipping or fracturing, and make you more likely to develop tooth decay. As the teeth break down, your ability to chew and speak clearly can also be affected.
Allows for Proper Chewing
Chewing is something that is so easy to take for granted. When malocclusion (bad bite) makes chewing difficult or painful, however, it is a struggle. Because digestion starts in the mouth, not chewing food properly can impair the digestive process, leaving you bloated, constipated, or suffering from heartburn. Or, you may find yourself avoiding a range of foods, including crunchy vegetables, which will impact your nutrition and, ultimately, your health.
Creating ideal spacing between your teeth and improving your bite with braces, Invisalign®, or Spark™ aligners creates harmony in your entire chewing system (i.e., teeth, jaws, temporomandibular joints (TMJs), facial muscles, etc.). Being able to chew fully and/or chew without pain will let you eat a more well-rounded diet and aid in smooth digestion and nutrient absorption.
Prevents Jawbone Loss
Your teeth stimulate your jawbone when you chew or bite down, signaling your body that, yup, your jawbone is being used. With excessive spacing or missing teeth, the bone isn’t stimulated in certain areas and the body begins to resorb it. As the bone deteriorates, teeth can become loose, or even fall out, chewing gets difficult, and your facial structure can start to change.
By straightening the teeth with braces or aligners, I can help close the gaps and create optimal spacing for a healthy jaw. Even in cases of missing teeth, sometimes, orthodontic treatment can be used to make room for a dental implant to be placed, which prevents jawbone loss too.
Can Alleviate Pain
When your bite is misaligned, it puts undue stress on the jaw, TMJ, and facial muscles. This can cause jaw and TMJ pain, stiffness, headaches, earaches, neck aches, and facial pain. Sometimes, in an unconscious effort to compensate for misalignment, people also engage in teeth grinding and clenching, technically called bruxism. Bruxism is another cause of TMJ pain and dysfunction, as well as pain while chewing.
As we said, one of the health benefits of braces and clear aligner treatment is it creates harmony in the chewing system. With the pressure off your jaw and TMJ, pain will likely decrease, and it will also prevent further damage and inflammation. Giving you a functional bite may reduce teeth grinding and clenching too, along with the host of complications related to bruxism.
Makes You Less Susceptible to Dental Trauma
One of the most obvious benefits of Invisalign and braces is that they can shift the teeth into their correct positions. But this perk doesn’t just make your smile look better, it also keeps your teeth safe. When teeth stick out, they’re more likely to be damaged or injured. Braces or aligners will move them out of harm’s way.
May Help Open Your Airway
An obstructed airway is a culprit behind chronic mouth breathing in kids. Chronic mouth breathing has the potential to interfere with dental and skeletal development, causing issues, such as abnormal jaw position, an elongated face, low tongue posture that results in a narrow upper jaw, and more.
This can also be the other way around. Jaw and facial irregularities, particularly a narrow palate, can cause airway obstruction and problems like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is tied to a range of health problems.
In some cases, early intervention with phase 1 orthodontic treatment is ideal. I can use certain appliances to guide the growth of the facial structures while a child is still developing. This opens the airway and stops mouth breathing.
Promotes a Healthy Body by Giving You a Healthy Mouth
There are a number of reasons why oral health is important. First, having a healthy mouth lets you chew and speak with ease and ensures you can avoid the pain of dental disease. As if those benefits weren’t enough, there is a connection between your oral health and your overall health.
Bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream, the gut, and the lungs, impacting your immune system. And, gum disease and the associated inflammation has been tied to systemic disease. While a causal relationship hasn’t been proven conclusively, studies have found a link between gum disease and heart attack, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and, in pregnant women, premature birth and low birth weight.
By achieving straight teeth and a healthy bite with orthodontic treatment, you’re lowering your risk of tooth decay and gum disease and all of the complications associated with oral health problems.
The Bottom Line
While feeling confident about the appearance of your smile is important, the health benefits of braces, Invisalign, and Spark Aligner treatment are also pretty powerful. Having straight teeth and an aligned bite allows you to chew properly, makes teeth easier to clean, which reduces your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and evenly distributes your biting forces, alleviating issues like jaw pain and excessive wear of the enamel. All of this adds up to both better oral health and overall health.
Are You Ready to Get Straight Teeth and a Healthy Bite?
Whether you’re interested in the health benefits of braces and clear aligners, the cosmetic perks, or both, the team at Fresh Orthodontics in Brooklyn can help. Schedule a complimentary consultation at our Park Slope practice today to find out how we can bring out the best in your smile and your health!