While most of us realize that having straight teeth is an advantage to one’s appearance, an often-overlooked advantage is that of improved oral health.
When teeth are in proper alignment, brushing and flossing can clean those tough-to-reach nooks and tight angles. This helps to keep oral bacteria to a minimum, creating a mouth less prone to developing cavities and gum disease.
There is another advantage that is not well-recognized to many adults, however, which is that of proper bite alignment. Yes, straight teeth make for a more-appealing smile. However, when teeth are in proper alignment, there is less stress and strain that’s transferred to the jaw joints.
The TMJ (temporo-mandibular) joints, or jaw joints, hinge the lower jaw to the skull. The joints (located in front of each ear) operate in unison as the mouth opens and closes as well as during biting, chewing and speaking. When the upper teeth and lower teeth do not meet harmoniously, these joints take the brunt of the disparity.
TMJ disorder can lead to frequent headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, facial pain, ear ringing, jaw popping, sore neck and shoulder muscles, difficulty opening the mouth fully and even tingling sensations in the fingers.
During sleep, misaligned teeth will often ‘seek out’ a proper fit, which is the origin of most clenching and grinding. This can cause worn teeth and broken, chipped or fractured teeth. Some sleep apnea has also been linked to a misaligned bite. (2015 article by Peter Blais, RPSGT – TMJ & Its Link To Headaches, Sleep Apnea: http://dental.sleepreviewmag.com/2015/07/tmj-and-its-link-to-headaches-sleep-apnea/).
For adolescents and teens who are able to have orthodontic treatment (giving them a ‘leg up’ on a proper bite as adults), many have traditional braces. However, for adults, these brackets and wires may actually be a deterrent to seeking out a proper bite. The initial discomfort as the gums and lips become accustomed to the feel of prickly brackets and the awkward appearance hold some adults back from resolving bite issues.
Today, adults (and teens, too) have an alternative to braces. Invisalign uses clear molds that are custom-formed to fit over teeth, yet can be removed for eating and brushing. Each Invisalign set is worn for a period of time determined by the dentist or orthodontist, which typically guides teeth at a pace similar to that of traditional braces.
Dr. Jessica Delgado is our team orthodontist, who is a specialist in bite alignment. After a free exam, she can discuss your bite alignment to help you fully understand your choices in correcting your bite.
For minor bite issues, we can also discuss porcelain crowns for selected teeth. These can help adjust bite disparities in cases where misalignment is due to the height or position of a minimal number of teeth.
Having straight teeth is good for your smile’s appearance and health and your overall well-being. Straight teeth help to create a body in balance. Begin with a free consultation and exam by Dr. Delgado — call 586-739-2155.
Once you are aware of any bite alignment issues and treatment recommendations, we’ll work with you to achieve a beautiful smile that supports your best YOU!