Most people assume that straightening the teeth is a strictly cosmetic issue. While having straight teeth can contribute to a beautiful smile, the truth is that straight teeth are typically healthier than teeth with orthodontic problems. We will explain here by outlining the different ways that orthodontic problems increase your risk for certain dental problems.
Both crooked teeth and teeth with small spaces between them have an increased risk for cavities. The cause of this higher risk is a greater amount of dental plaque. Plaque is the soft, whitish buildup that collects on the teeth and gums throughout each and every day. It contains bacteria, food debris and exfoliated tissue cells from the inside of the mouth. The bacteria contained within dental plaque can wreak havoc on the mouth by causing both cavities and gum disease.
The most common problem among very crowded teeth is difficulty flossing and removing that dangerous plaque. Some teeth are so overlapped that it can seem almost impossible to get floss between them. Even if you can floss, you might not be removing all of the plaque from the abnormally-shaped nooks and crannies between the crooked teeth.
Teeth with small gaps or spaces between them tend to become packed with food particles. Again, without great flossing and plaque removal, this increased plaque buildup increases the risk for cavities.
As far as gum disease goes, the increased plaque buildup and difficulty in removing it definitely leads to a higher risk. The bacteria present in dental plaque release toxins that cause inflammation in the surrounding gum tissues. Without intervention, this inflammation (which starts as mild gingivitis) will progress to the destruction of the bone and ligaments surrounding the tooth. This is the process of periodontal disease.
Because both crowded and spaced teeth have more plaque buildup than straight teeth do, they carry a higher risk for gingivitis, and if left without treatment, progressive periodontal disease.
In recent research, scientists studied the actual strains of bacteria contained within dental plaque collected from straight teeth and compared it to the strains present in plaque from crooked teeth. Their studies showed that crooked teeth actually have a stronger, more dangerous strain of bacteria than straight teeth do. This means that crowded teeth are harbors for bacteria that specifically cause periodontal disease, and straight teeth are not.
Teeth are tough. They are able to withstand extremely heavy forces from the jaw muscles in order to properly chew food. There is a specific way that upper and lower teeth need to come together for these forces to not damage the teeth. This is called “occlusion”. Occlusion relates to the way the upper and lower jaws meet when biting and chewing. When teeth are not in the correct alignment, it is possible for teeth to absorb forces at improper angles. When a tooth hits the opposite tooth in the wrong location or at the wrong angle, cracked teeth are more likely.
One of the most important aspects of orthodontic treatment is aligning the teeth for the correct occlusion. Having the correct bite gives each tooth a longer lifespan by ensuring they receive biting forces in the right location on the tooth and at the right angle!
This risk also relates to the occlusion of the teeth. Teeth that are not properly positioned and aligned have a “malocclusion”. Some can be severe with large growth defects in the jaws preventing proper teeth alignment. Others include just minor crowding of the teeth. All malocclusions, because the teeth do not align correctly, put you at a higher risk for teeth grinding and TMJ problems.
The way the teeth bite together has a direct impact on the configuration of the jaw joints, also called the TemporoMandibular Joints or TMJs. Most people force their teeth together regardless of how that affects the jaw, so if the teeth are in bad alignment, this adds strain to one or both of the jaw joints. Over time, this can lead to wear and tear on the joints, similar to arthritis.
Interested in Straightening Your Teeth?
Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule an orthodontic consultation with one of our wonderful dentists.