The percentage of people who grow up with naturally straight and well-aligned teeth is small. The rest of us have what dental professionals call malocclusion—literally translated as ‘bad bite.’ Without getting into the clinical definition of each one, there are several categories of malocclusion caused by overcrowding of teeth, crooked teeth, overbite, and crossbite (the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth). It is estimated that up to 65% of the population has malocclusion severe enough to warrant orthodontic treatment. While we typically think about orthodontics as a cosmetic procedure, there are other good reasons for correcting malocclusion with braces or realignment retainers.
Straight Teeth Are Easier to Clean
Crooked teeth create additional nooks and crannies in your mouth where food and bacteria can easily become trapped. Brushing in these areas is more difficult for your toothbrush to clean correctly because the bristles cannot reach the area or achieve the correct angle for efficient cleaning. Flossing can be more challenging when teeth are crowded together or when misalignment makes it hard to achieve the sweep cross the tooth surface needed for effective flossing. Plaque tends to build up in these areas, increasing the risk of gingivitis and gum disease. Even your dental hygienist can have a difficult time accessing these spots for a deep-cleaning. Straightening the teeth eliminates some of the problem areas and makes it easier to maintain clean teeth.
Headaches and Pain
Misaligned teeth often don’t fully meet together when you bite down, as they should. As a result, pressure points can occur when you clench your teeth or when chewing your food. You may also subconsciously adjust your jaw’s position to force the teeth together. Over time, muscle strain and imbalance cause conditions like TMJ, face and neck pain and even migraines to develop.
Can Crooked Teeth Affect Speech?
Our teeth are integral to the ability to make the variety of sounds needed to speak. In rare cases, malocclusion is severe enough to cause speech development problems, causing lisps and difficulty forming certain sounds. As children’s jaws develop, your dentist will be looking for signs of malocclusion. He or she may recommend orthodontics early on to improve the bite and encourage proper function. Correcting crowding issues, crooked or twisted teeth, or improperly aligned bite early can prevent the need for more extensive work later on in life.
Not Too Late for Adults
Adults who may not have had the opportunity to get braces can still do so later in life. There’s no age limit on correcting malocclusion. In fact, adults who suffer from TMJ or chronic headaches may find relief from the pain after braces or Invisalign.
Dentists trained in orthodontics know how to realign teeth so that the bite is optimal and your smile is beautiful. In addition, a properly aligned bite can alleviate pain and make caring for your teeth easier. Get in touch with us for an orthodontic assessment of your bite and talk about braces or Invisalign.