Straight teeth help an individual to effectively bite, chew and speak. Straight teeth contribute to healthy teeth and gums. Properly aligned teeth and jaws may alleviate or prevent physical health problems. Teeth that work better also tend to look better. An attractive smile is a pleasant “side effect” of orthodontic treatment.
An attractive smile is a wonderful asset. It contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image—important qualities at every age. A pleasing appearance is a vital component of self-confidence. A person's self-esteem often improves as orthodontic treatment brings teeth, lips and face into proportion. In this way, orthodontic treatment can benefit social and career success, as well as improve a person’s general attitude toward life.
You may be surprised to learn that straight teeth are less prone to decay, gum disease and injury. Straight teeth collect less plaque, a colorless, sticky film composed of bacteria, food and saliva. Decay results when the bacteria in plaque feed on carbohydrates (sugar and starch) we eat or drink to produce acids that can cause cavities. Plaque can also increase the risk for periodontal (gum) disease. When teeth are properly aligned, and less plaque collects, these risks decline. And when teeth are properly aligned it is easier to keep teeth clean. As for injuries to teeth, protruding upper teeth are more likely to be broken in an accident. When repositioned and aligned with other teeth, these teeth are most probably going to be at a decreased risk for fracture.
Untreated orthodontic problems may become worse. They may lead to tooth decay, gum disease (see photo below), destruction of the bone that holds teeth in place, and chewing and digestive difficulties. Orthodontic problems can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces (see photo below), inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints (see photo above), sometimes leading to chronic headaches or pain in the face or neck. Treatment by an orthodontist to correct a problem early may be less costly than the restorative dental care required to treat more serious problems that can develop in later years.
©2006 American Association of Orthodontists