When someone flashes you a dazzling, straight smile, it’s hard not to appreciate it. After all, we’re a pretty smile-obsessed culture. A person with a nice set of pearly whites just seems healthier, happier and more vibrant. While most of us probably wouldn’t mind giving that impression to others, beyond looking fantastic, does having straight teeth matter? The answer is, yes. In fact, there are proven social, emotional and health benefits of straight teeth. As a Claremore and Tulsa orthodontist, I strive to create results that are equally as functional as they are beautiful so that you look and feel your absolute best when you finish treatment. Here are a few of the important positive effects of braces and Invisalign:
1. The Social Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment
Unfortunately, we’re evaluated by our appearance and people often make snap judgments about us based on our looks. This isn’t to say that we have to be supermodels to get ahead but appearing polished and healthy can have an impact on your career, dating life and social interactions. One of the first things people notice about us is our smile, which, for better or worse, makes it a powerful social tool. A survey conducted by Kelton Global on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that nearly half of all American adults believe that a smile is the most memorable feature after they first meet someone. It was ranked ahead of the first thing a person says, their clothing and their smell. Even more striking, a study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics revealed that individuals with ideal smiles were perceived as more intelligent and have a better chance of finding a job. In yet another study on the topic, people with straight teeth were rated by subjects as more successful, wealthier, happier, healthier, smarter and more likely to get a date.
Of course, it’s what’s on the inside that matters most and other people’s judgments shouldn’t influence how we feel about ourselves. Yet, the bottom line is, the ability to make a strong first impression is definitely among the positive effects of braces and Invisalign treatment and having straight teeth can give you an edge.
2. Straight Teeth and Confidence
One of the most important long term effects of orthodontics is the way it enhances your confidence. It can be difficult for younger patients and teens who are developing and growing into the adults they’ll become to feel self-conscious about their smile and they’re particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of teasing. Kids can gain a huge amount of self-esteem from getting straight teeth with orthodontic treatment and self-esteem is associated with doing better in school, forming strong bonds and friendships, resisting peer pressure and trying new things even if failure is a possibility.
The confidence that comes from loving your smile is also important for adults. Feeling good about yourself can greatly enhance your quality of life. In a survey of 2,000 adults who underwent orthodontic treatment, 92% said having straight teeth were important to their confidence and 78% said treatment gave them the confidence to try something they never would have prior to getting braces or Invisalign.
3. The Health Benefits of Straight Teeth
Orthodontic treatment doesn’t just have cosmetic perks, there are also a number of important health benefits of straight teeth, including:
- A Reduced Risk of Tooth Decay – Crooked teeth are difficult to properly brush and floss. Straight teeth are much easier to keep clean because you eliminate the extra nooks and crannies where plaque and food debris can hide. When plaque isn’t brushed away, the bacteria from the plaque interact with starches and carbohydrates in the food you eat and they release acids that erode your tooth enamel. This can eventually cause cavities and we all know, tooth decay is often expensive and time-consuming to fix.
- Better Gum Health – As we just discussed, when your teeth are straight, you’re able to more efficiently eliminate plaque with brushing and flossing. When plaque builds up along the gum line and in between crooked teeth, it results in inflammation of the gums. At first, you’ll experience bleeding, swollen or red gums. This is when gum disease is in its earliest stage, known as gingivitis. It can then advance into periodontitis, which is the more severe form and a leading cause of tooth loss. It also highlights the overall health and oral health connection because gum disease has been associated with other conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Teeth are Safe from Injury and Wear – Protruding front teeth are especially susceptible to trauma. By shifting them into their proper places, you can reduce the likelihood of sustaining a dental injury. Another of the health benefits of straight teeth is that when they’re aligned, they’re less likely to experience uneven wear or erosion and it can even lessen teeth grinding.
- Improved Function – Orthodontics enhances the function of your jaws and teeth, allowing you to speak clearly, breathe more freely and chew properly. When you can chew different foods comfortably, you’re able to add more variety to your diet, which certainly helps with your overall health. By opening the airway, orthodontics can also help with breathing and sleep apnea, in certain cases.
- An Aligned Jaw Can Help With TMJ Pain – When the upper and lower teeth don’t come together correctly, it puts undue stress on the jaw joint and results in uneven bite forces. By creating the ideal bite, we can help with TMJ pain and the associated headaches and migraines.
- The Jawbone Remains Strong – Spacing between the teeth and a misaligned jaw can cause unwanted pressure on the teeth and gums, which, in turn, can lead to the breakdown of the bones that support the teeth and, ultimately, pain and tooth loss. Having straight teeth and a healthy bite can keep your jawbone functioning at its best.
- Can Create Space for Dental Implants – When you lose a permanent tooth and it’s not replaced in a timely manner, the surrounding teeth shift and fill in the space left behind. This can interfere with placing dental implants down the road. Sometimes, orthodontic treatment is indicated to create enough room for a dental implant (or implants), which will restore your ability to chew and speak properly.
Now that we’ve covered some of the most significant reasons why having straight teeth matters, are you ready to enhance your confidence, appearance and oral health with orthodontic treatment? To learn more about how you can reap the benefits with our Tulsa and Claremore braces or Invisalign treatment, schedule a free consultation at The Brace Place today!