While braces are designed to straighten crooked teeth and give you an awesome smile, they also provide multiple health benefits, some of which might surprise you.
For instance, the many health benefits of wearing braces include helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Braces can also relieve a painful jaw and prevent headaches, improve your digestion and lessen the risk of erosion of jaw bone structure.
Here, we’ll take a look at all the major health benefits of wearing braces and how they can improve your life.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Straight teeth not only look attractive, they’re easier to keep clean. Effective brushing and flossing is difficult if your teeth are crowded or crooked. This can lead to a build-up of bacterial plaque, which can harden into tartar (calculus) and eat away at your tooth enamel – the outer layer of teeth that protects the inner structures, including dentin.
This will inevitably result in cavities, because enamel, having no living cells, cannot regenerate. Oral hygiene once braces have realigned your teeth is far easier and greatly lessens the risk of tooth decay.
Preventing Gum Disease
Being unable to clean crooked teeth properly can lead to gum disease (periodontitis) as well as cavities. Periodontitis is the medical name for diseases that attack the soft tissue and bones supporting the teeth and jaw. Half of the adult population of the U.S. has periodontitis, which, in severe cases, can spread to other parts of your body, including vital organs such as the heart and lungs.
Preventing Headaches and Jaw Pain
Misaligned teeth can result in a skewed bite that causes your jaw to overcompensate. This puts a heavy strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in tension headaches and jaw pain. Braces can alter teeth alignment to correct the bite function and relieve headaches and TMJ symptoms.
Even your stomach will thank you for your braces. If your teeth or bite are not functioning correctly, you will likely find it difficult to chew your food properly. It’s far easier for your stomach to digest small pieces of food as opposed to larger chunks.
Preventing Bone Erosion
The positioning of your teeth dictates how much force is exerted on your jaw bone when you eat and speak. The correct level of pressure is essential for the bones that support your teeth to remain strong. Crooked teeth can result in excessive force that gradually erodes the bone. Braces straighten your teeth to ensure the right amount of pressure to maintain the balance of your jaw bone.
Protruding upper teeth are particularly vulnerable to damage in incidents such as traffic accidents, sports mishaps or falls. Orthodontic treatment such as braces will help to prevent these injuries.
Self-consciousness over crooked or protruding teeth can result in an individual being too embarrassed to show their smile. As well as saying a lot about you, smiling also makes you feel better about yourself.
Once braces have resolved issues with your teeth, you’ll have no anxiety about smiling, talking or any other activity that shows off your teeth. This improvement in self-esteem can help to enhance your mental health and overall sense of wellbeing.
Misaligned teeth can result in a lisp or in other ways affect the way you pronounce certain words. Wearing braces to straighten teeth can help you to speak more clearly.
Correcting Bite Problems
A major factor in the health benefits of wearing braces is the correction of bite problems, including:
- Open bite.
Which Type of Braces Are Right for Me?
Traditional braces come in two forms: metal and ceramic.
Metal braces remain a popular choice and are the most effective in correcting severe overcrowding of teeth. With modern metal braces, the arch wires are responsive to body heat to help teeth reposition faster and with less discomfort. Metal braces are the least expensive type of braces. Although metal braces nowadays are more comfortable and discreet, they are still the most noticeable type of braces.
Ceramic braces resemble their metal counterparts in terms of shape and size but have clear or tooth-colored brackets that blend in with the teeth. Those with tooth-colored wires are even less conspicuous. Ceramic braces realign teeth more quickly than plastic aligners but cost more than metal braces. If you don’t take good care of them, ceramic braces can be susceptible to staining.
With none of the wires and brackets associated with traditional fixed metal or ceramic braces, Invisalign clear aligners have revolutionized orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry and are now the most popular removable braces.
Invisalign aligners have smooth edges that make them more comfortable and they provide precise control in shifting teeth, through a series of regulated movements, with just a few teeth being repositioned during each stage of the process.
Invisalign appliances are made from medical-grade polyurethane resin (clear plastic) that’s virtually invisible. Wearing conventional braces can make oral hygiene difficult, but Invisalign aligners, being removable, allow you to brush and floss as normal.
An experienced orthodontist will be able to help you decide which type of braces are right for you.
How to Get the Best Health Benefits from Your Braces
As the American Dental Association points out, addressing the problem of crooked teeth can have an important impact on overall dental health.
The improvements in appearance that braces bring about go hand in hand with significant health benefits, including lessening the risk of cavities and gum disease.
If you’re looking to take full advantage of the health benefits of wearing braces, keep in mind that there’s a big difference between orthodontic specialists and general dentists.
Many dentists offer orthodontic treatment but an orthodontist has more expertise in straightening teeth, acquired through years of extra training after their four years of dental school.
With a good routine of oral hygiene, you can keep your teeth healthy and straight for the rest of your life.