Beyond Straight Teeth — Braces and Your Health
Most people view orthodontics as nothing more than a cosmetic correction to improve crooked, misaligned and poorly spaced teeth, but the benefits of orthodontics are much more than cosmetic. Orthodontics helps people achieve better overall health and a greater sense of wellbeing, often alleviating or preventing physical and mental health problems.
Your mouth is the gateway to your body, so it also can be a bellwether of overall health. Consider the following examples of ways in which poorly aligned teeth can adversely affect health:
Misaligned Teeth Cause Early Tooth Loss
Poor alignment and spacing of teeth not only affect the ability to chew foods properly, but also the efficiency of your digestive system and absorption of nutrients. Misalignment also may cause early tooth loss, resulting in greater wear and tear on remaining teeth and the development of TMJ/TMD, a group of conditions that cause severe pain and dysfunction of the jaw. As is true for chronic pain elsewhere in the body, dental and jaw pain also can have a deep emotional impact. Click here to learn more about TMJ/TMD.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease Often Go Hand in Hand
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi constantly barrage the mouth and may cause tooth decay and periodontal disease – inflammation that can affect both the soft and hard structures of the mouth and ultimately can result in periodontitis, a severe gum disease. Bacteria in your mouth can build up in the mouth to form a soft, sticky film known as plaque. Scientists speculate that periodontal disease may start a surge of chemical reactions that can cause inflammation throughout the body, also resulting in plaque build up in the heart and arteries. In fact, up to 91% of patients with heart disease have periodontitis, compared to 66% of people with no evidence of heart disease.
It’s clear that while orthodontics can boost a person’s self-image, an attractive smile is just one of the benefits. Alleviating or preventing physical health problems is equally important.