If you’ve ever looked at braces or Invisalign before and after photos or have gone through orthodontic treatment yourself, you know that straightening your teeth will give you a fantastic-looking smile. Yet, beyond the cosmetic perks, does having straight teeth matter? The answer is, absolutely. From improved oral health to increased confidence, having straight teeth and an aligned bite can make a big impact on your life. To give you a better idea, the team at Gardner Orthodontics is sharing 10 key benefits of straight teeth:
1. Healthier Teeth
The bacteria in the mouth mix with food and saliva to form a sticky substance known as plaque. As bacteria in the plaque feed on sugars and starches, they release acids that eat away at the tooth enamel, eventually leading to tooth decay. This is why if plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, you have an increased risk of developing cavities.
How does this relate to having straight teeth? Well, crooked, misaligned teeth are harder to effectively brush and floss. It’s not just crowding that can affect oral health either, gaps between the teeth tend to trap food debris and plaque too. When you have straight teeth, you can more easily banish plaque, bacteria and food particles, reducing your risk of tooth decay. Plus, during your braces or Invisalign treatment, you’ll be brushing your teeth more frequently, resulting in healthier teeth and, hopefully, creating a lifelong habit.
2. Healthier Gums
When teeth are too crowded or spaced too far apart, plaque and bacteria accumulate between teeth and along and under the gum line and, as we said, it’s harder to effectively brush and floss it away. Additionally, when teeth are misaligned, the gums don’t always fit around the teeth properly. This can lead to an infection of the gum tissue known as gum disease, or periodontal disease.
When gum disease is in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis, and it’s reversible with appropriate care. Unfortunately, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can be managed but not cured. Periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults since the disease results in the deterioration of the tissues and bone that support the teeth.
Gum disease has also been tied to a number of health conditions, including diabetes, stroke and heart disease, most likely because of the inflammation it causes in the body. This really highlights the oral health and overall health connection and the very real health benefits of straight teeth that occur when you’re able to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
3. Stronger Supporting Bones
If teeth are too widely spaced, particularly in the case of a missing tooth, it can cause jawbone loss. The alveolar bone (the part of the jawbone that anchors the teeth) will begin to deteriorate and reabsorb if it’s not being used (i.e., there aren’t teeth above it to stimulate it). When teeth are in their ideal places, it helps preserve the jawbone and, in turn, prevent tooth loss.
We can fix standard spacing due to an imbalance in the tooth-to-jaw-size relationship or certain oral habits. We can also sometimes use our Richmond, VA metal braces, clear braces or Invisalign® to close gaps created by a missing tooth or to shift the teeth to allow for a dental implant to be placed, which will also maintain the bone.
4. Reduced Wear
When you bite down, the pressure is usually distributed across your teeth in a way that keeps them from wearing down unevenly or causing pain. When teeth aren’t in the correct places, certain teeth will bear more of the brunt of your chewing forces, which causes excessive wear of the enamel. When we straighten teeth, it will ward off this uneven wear and prevent associated issues like receding gums, chipped or cracked teeth, lack of support at the tooth roots and, in extreme cases, loose teeth. You’ll have healthy teeth and gums overall and your smile will look more youthful.
5. Improved Comfort
Speaking of bite forces, misaligned teeth and jaws can put undue stress on the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and chewing muscles. This can cause TMJ pain, headaches, neck aches, shoulder pain and even earaches. Straightening the teeth will balance bite forces and take the stress off of the TMJ and connected muscles and discs, keeping them healthy and preventing or alleviating discomfort.
6. Easier Chewing
Another of the benefits of straight teeth is the ability to chew properly. When you have aligned teeth and a functional bite, you can bite into food and chew comfortably and efficiently. This is also an indirect health benefit of straight teeth because you’ll be able to eat a wide variety of foods and fully chew them for improved digestion.
7. Clear Speech
Cear speech isn’t one of the most obvious benefits of straight teeth but as some of our Richmond, VA metal braces, ceramic braces, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen patients can attest, it is an important one. The teeth play a role in producing certain speech sounds by directing airflow or serving as a point of contact for the tongue. Or, for other sounds, the tongue needs enough room to move freely in the mouth.
A good example of how the teeth can affect speech is someone with a large gap between their two front teeth or an excessive overbite or open bite. The person will often make a whistling noise or have a lisp when pronouncing /s/ and /th/ sounds. When we straighten teeth with orthodontic treatment and create an ideal bite, it eliminates this whistle and will help you produce and articulate some other speech sounds more clearly as well.
8. Reduced Risk of Dental Injury
Teeth that stick out, especially the top front teeth, are at greater risk of being injured. Protruding teeth are directly in harm’s way and if you get hit in the face, they can get chipped, cracked or even knocked out completely. By straightening teeth with Invisalign or braces, we shift the teeth back so that they’re less likely to sustain trauma.
9. Increased Confidence and Self-Esteem
When you’re self-conscious about your smile and feel like you need to hide it, it has a negative impact on your self-esteem. While we have listed quite a few oral and overall health benefits of straight teeth, that doesn’t mean the cosmetic benefits aren’t important. When you look your best, you feel your best and loving your smile will give you a huge boost in confidence and self-esteem. In fact, this confidence can be truly life changing and have a positive effect on your career, relationships, academics and everything you do. Seeing this transformation in our Richmond, VA metal braces, clear braces and Invisalign patients is one of our favorite parts of what we do.
While, yes, orthodontic treatment can result in a beautiful, healthy smile for a more confident you, it does create permanent changes in your facial structure, so seeing an experienced orthodontist is key. At Gardner Orthodontics, we’re orthodontic nerds. We use the latest tools and software to create custom treatment plans and design smiles based on our patients’ unique facial features. Thanks to this in-depth planning, when we straighten the teeth, we can create facial symmetry and improve your appearance. Orthodontic treatment can also act like a non-surgical facelift, widening the smile, smoothing and lifting the skin, and making you look younger. Believe us, you’ll never hide your smile again!
10. Better First Impressions
In a perfect world, our appearance wouldn’t be all that important. However, in reality, another reason having straight teeth does matter is because your smile is one of the first things people notice about you and it can influence first impressions. In one study on dental esthetics published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, people with an ideal smile (i.e., straight, white teeth) were rated by participants as being more intelligent and having a greater chance of finding a job than those with non-ideal smiles (i.e., crooked teeth and various types of malocclusions).
In another study on straight teeth and first impressions conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Invisalign, the data showed that people with straight teeth were perceived as more successful, more likely to land a date, healthier, smarter and more trustworthy.
Obviously, having straight, white teeth doesn’t boost your IQ or make you more capable. Yet, creating the best possible first impressions can definitely be a bonus and help give you an edge.
Improved oral health, a better appearance, more confidence and enhanced overall health are some of the many benefits of having straight teeth. As for how to straighten teeth, it starts with a complimentary consultation with an expert orthodontist at Gardner Orthodontics. We’re providers of Richmond, VA metal braces, clear braces, self-ligating braces, Invisalign® and Invisalign Teen, and we have treatment options for patients of all ages. At your consultation, our orthodontists will look at your diagnostic records and perform an exam in order to develop an accurate diagnosis. They can then determine the best way to straighten your teeth and align your bite. The end result will be a beautiful, healthy smile you’re proud to show off. To get started, schedule your complimentary in-person or virtual consultation today!