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IS ORTHODONTICS JUST FOR STRAIGHTER TEETH?

Straight teeth certainly make for a more beautiful smile – but there is more to orthodontics than just the cosmetic. Find out how orthodontics can help make for healthy teeth, jaw, body and mind. 

Orthodontics is dentistry that specialises in the alignment of the teeth and jaws.

While in the past, only the children with really obvious misaligned teeth would wear braces. The study of orthodontics has progressed to a point where the understanding of the implications of jaw and teeth misalignment can cause lifelong issues and hence we are seeing a growth in the use of braces and other orthodontic treatments.

It is only recent generations who expect to keep their teeth for life. Even those born as recently as the 1930’s expected to wear dentures (or false teeth) at some stage during their lifetime. For some,  full mouth extractions were routinely carried out on patients as young as mid-twenties, even removing perfectly healthy teeth! Thankfully now we can expect to keep our teeth for life, and our children, with the correct care, could look forward to almost cavity free teeth for life.

 

How does orthodontics help?

Healthy teeth
 
Plaque is a clear sticky substance that contains bacteria that feeds on the sugar in food. Crooked and misaligned teeth are more difficult to remove plaque from which in turn can lead to the following problems:
  • Gum disease (periodontal disease) is an infection of the gums. Caused by plaque, gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease. 
  • Tooth decay – where the tooth enamel is eroded and a hole in the tooth is formed. If left untreated the decay can move through the layers of the tooth to the centre. If left untreated the tooth can decay to the point where it needs removal. Even when treated the tooth may become weakened and require removal later in life.
Misaligned teeth can also cause abnormal wear on neighbouring teeth. 
 
Healthy jaw
Misaligned teeth can cause strain on the jaw and muscles which in turn can cause headaches and other symptoms. A misaligned jaw (where the upper and lower jaws are not in sync with each other) can also cause discomfort when eating, unnecessary wear on surrounding teeth and an unusual facial structure. In more simple cases an orthodontist may be able to fix the problem however in more complex cases an orthodontist will work with a surgeon to ensure the teeth are in the correct place for the new jaw alignment. 
 
Healthy body
Misaligned teeth and jaw can also cause other physical symptoms such as increased chance of childhood middle ear infections, mouth breathing, snoring and other sleep disturbances. Gum disease has also been linked to the increased likelihood of suffering from heart disease. 

 
Healthy mind
The negative impact on a person’s self-esteem from misaligned teeth and jaw cannot be underestimated. 
 
What about you?
Orthodontics is so much more than simply improving your smile. Even if your teeth are not terribly crooked, as you age you may begin to notice uneven wear on your teeth, pain in your jaw joint, increasing tooth decay and onset of gum disease. 
In order to keep your teeth for life, orthodontic treatment at any age is recommended. Braces are not just for teens!