The Impact of Orthodontic Treatment on Oral Health: Beyond Straight Teeth

Orthodontic treatment is about much more than the aesthetics of straight teeth. Misaligned teeth, shifting bones in the jaws, or problems chewing can lead to serious oral health issues that are improved with orthodontic treatment. Suppose these issues are left untreated due to fear or a belief that orthodontics is too expensive. In that case, it can result in tooth decay, gum disease, and health concerns like heart disease and diabetes among other serious conditions.

It’s never too late for orthodontic care and the American Association of Orthodontics recommends early orthodontic exams for all children by age seven. However, if your child is younger than 7, and you or your dentist notice an early issue, it’s not necessary to wait. You should take your child to an orthodontist when you notice a problem, regardless of age.

This article will explore the impact of orthodontic treatment on oral health, as well as some of the problems that can be resolved by orthodontics.

How Does Orthodontics Improve Oral Health?

When it comes to how orthodontic treatment can help your oral health, there are some specific ways that properly aligning the teeth can have a significant positive impact. Orthodontics work to:

  • Make it easier to clean your teeth, reducing the risk of cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and subsequent loss of teeth.
  • Ensure the correct function of the teeth and jaw, improving your bite and preventing uneven wear on your teeth and reducing stress on your jaw joints. 
  • Help maximize the effectiveness of your chewing, which not only reduces the amount of leftover food on your teeth but can also help your digestion and gut health.
  • Help improve your speech.
  • Create a healthy smile and facial structure.
  • Prevent expensive dental procedures and the costs that are the result of untreated orthodontic issues.
  • Help you avoid unnecessary dental emergencies.

So, a straighter smile can mean a healthier you! And prevention is key. It is critical to keep all your appointments with your orthodontist, keep them informed about any problems between appointments, stick to a solid oral hygiene routine, and avoid foods and drinks you know are bad for your teeth. Orthodontic treatment is a process, but the results are worth the effort and will give you a lifetime of better oral health.

Specific Needs for Orthodontic Treatment

You may need orthodontic treatment if you have any of the following orthodontic problems:

Overcrowding

Your dentist may notice that your jaw doesn’t have enough space for all your teeth. This leads to crooked, overlapping, or misaligned teeth and it affects both children and adults. When teeth don’t have enough space in the mouth, it becomes hard to thoroughly clean them because your toothbrush and floss can’t get in between the teeth adequately. Overcrowded teeth can also lead to difficulties speaking and chewing, which impacts self-confidence. Correcting overcrowding often involves such as braces or clear aligners.

Underbite

When the lower teeth protrude beyond the upper front teeth, an underbite results.  It isn’t as common as other orthodontic issues but still causes oral health challenges. Your orthodontist will want to correct this so that your chewing and speaking are improved, jaw pain is reduced, and damaging tooth wear is eliminated. 

Overbite

This orthodontic issue is sometimes called a deep bite and occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower front teeth while the mouth is closed. Orthodontic treatment to correct this is important because the lower teeth can be damaged over time. An overbite can be hereditary, the bone supporting the teeth may be overdeveloped, the loss of lower teeth may be the problem, or childhood thumb-sucking may be the culprit. 

Jaw Pain

There can be many reasons for jaw pain, but a major orthodontic cause is wisdom teeth. These teeth are third molars that usually erupt in the late teen years or early adulthood. They can cause overcrowding and misalignment of the teeth that are already present, resulting in pain in the jaw. In some cases, the orthodontist will remove these teeth to eliminate the problems.

Open Bite

An open bite exists when there is a gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are closed. This gap results in problems with chewing and speaking. Some patients simply don’t like the way it looks so their orthodontist will work to close the gap, improving functionality, oral health, and aesthetics.

Excessive Tooth Wear or Decay

When teeth are crooked or misaligned, the result is abnormal wear on tooth enamel. As the protective enamel is depleted, the dentin is exposed and bacteria moves in. The teeth are then more susceptible to decay.  Orthodontic treatment brings the teeth back into alignment and the risk of tooth wear and decay is lessened.

Gum Disease

If teeth are crooked or the alignment is off, they are harder to clean so bacteria and plaque build up. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, follows. It starts as gingivitis and affects not only the gums but also the supporting structure of the teeth. Red, swollen, and bleeding gums are symptoms of gum disease. Soon, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets between the gums and the tooth that become infected.

Orthodontic Treatment Supports Oral Health

As you can see, there are some significant oral health benefits of orthodontic treatment. By correcting one or more common orthodontic issues, you will improve your oral health, which in turn protects your physical health, too.

Whether it’s a crossbite, overbite, crooked or misaligned teeth, corrective orthodontic treatment enhances your smile, your self-confidence, and your overall health. 

If you are looking for a top orthodontist in Chesapeake, Norfolk, or Virginia Beach, VA, visit us at Ashby Orthodontics. We will be glad to answer any questions you may have about orthodontic treatment and guide you through your journey to a beautiful, healthy smile.

Contact us today!