Most people pursue orthodontic treatment for one simple reason - to have a beautiful smile. Dental braces and clear aligners such as Invisalign can drastically improve the attractiveness of the smile as well as improve the contour of the lips and face. Esthetics is clearly a motivating factor, but it is not the only reason to get braces.
In addition to improving esthetics, orthodontic treatment is also responsible for improving dental function. Having good dental function means the teeth and jaws are aligned and coordinated in such a way that they are in the best possible position to accommodate chewing, talking, or moving your teeth from side to side. Proper function creates balanced forces on your teeth when you use them, which promotes better long term health of the teeth, gums, and surrounding bone. This can also reduce the incidence of habits such as grinding or clenching, the formation of abnormal wear patterns on your teeth, or the development of headaches and facial pain.
From the dentist’s and hygienist’s perspective, straight teeth are generally easier to keep clean. Crowded teeth tend to be more difficult to brush and floss, and plaque (tooth bacteria) has been shown to accumulate to a greater extent on crowded teeth. This can lead to a higher risk of cavities and gum disease, and can contribute to bad breath. Additionally, if dental restorations (fillings, crowns, veneers) are ever needed, it is much easier for the dentist to work on well aligned teeth.
Equally important, and perhaps underestimated, is the psychological advantage that comes with having straight teeth and a beautiful smile. Especially during the self-conscious adolescent years, an attractive smile can contribute to increased self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image. It is not unusual to see a shy or timid young patient “blossom” as a result of dental braces and orthodontic treatment. The advantage of a pleasing smile is an asset at any age, however. Orthodontic treatment has been shown to enhance social and career success in adults, and has a positive influence on others’ perception of how intelligent, likable, and trustworthy one is. It is no surprise then, that a beautiful, confident smile can improve a person’s general attitude toward life and contribute to their overall well-being.
Dr. Charchut is a Board Certified Orthodontist practicing in both Lansing and St. Johns, Michigan. Read more about Dr. Charchut.