Braces aren’t just for kids. More and more adults are getting braces or other orthodontic treatments like Invisalign. While dentistry has advanced to the point where we can replace single teeth with dental implants and crowns and full arches of missing teeth with implants and fixed all on four dentures, there is never going to be a substitute for having your own teeth. In the old days, many patients were resigned to the idea that they would one day end up with no teeth, wearing a denture. These days, for many patients, that is simply not an option. My colleague Dr. Christopher Hooper in Virgina Beach calls dentures “removable body parts”, and not many people want to have removable body parts!
So why is orthodontics important? If your teeth aren’t fairly straight, it will be difficult for you to keep all of your teeth for your entire life. That’s not even a controversial point. You don’t hear a lot of dentists saying it quite like that, but it’s the truth. If you want to increase the odds that your teeth will last a long time and be free of major problems, a properly aligned bite is critical.
If a tooth is tipped the wrong way, it might be at higher risk for a cavity or a gum problem. If there are several teeth in your mouth that don’t even touch, the teeth that do touch are doing more than their fair share of the work, potentially making them more prone to fracture. Teeth that aren’t straight are more difficult for dentists to restore when they do break or have cavities. When a procedure is difficult, the prognosis of long term success decreases. Teeth that aren’t straight are difficult to clean, for your and for your dental hygienist. If you can’t clean your teeth, and no one can, not even your dental hygienist, bad things happen.
There’s a popular misconception that orthodontics is for cosmetics only. When it comes to aligning a patient’s bite, cosmetics and function go hand in hand. A smile that is straight and harmonious is typically less prone to dental problems than one that is not. The main goal of a great orthodontist is to create a functional bite that distributes forces of the bite properly and evenly. Excellent cosmetics and a beautiful smile is the by product of the main goal. Understandably, the cosmetics is what patients focus on, but behind the scenes with the bite is where all of the real work is.
Patients sometimes think they are too old to straighten their teeth, or that it doesn’t matter anyway because they aren’t overly concerned with the way they look. I have a hard time believing my new patients when they tell me this. Almost everyone wants to keep their teeth and almost everyone wants to look their best.
If you’re concerned about your teeth not being straight and how that effects the overall health of your teeth, consult with your dentist. You may be a candidate for an orthodontic procedure like traditional braces or Invisalign. Orthodontic treatment, no matter how old you are, may significantly improve your bite and the overall health of your mouth. A new, beautiful smile, that’s just an added bonus.