Most people immediately think of “braces” when they hear “orthodontist.” It’s a fact that a large part of any orthodontist’s practice is related to improving a patient’s appearance, but the benefits of orthodontics go far beyond aesthetics.
The services performed by an orthodontist address a variety of dental issues and improve overall oral health in the process. In this article, we will discuss those services and break down some of the oral health improvements from orthodontics.
What Exactly IS Orthodontics?
According to Medical Life Sciences and Wikipedia:
Orthodontics is a specialist branch of dentistry. The term “orthodontics” can be broken down into two Greek words – “orthos” meaning straight or correct and “dontics” meaning teeth. Orthodontics therefore describes the practice of straightening misaligned teeth or malocclusions.
Orthodontists, who are dentists who specialize in orthodontics, can help manage abnormal positioning of the teeth, jaws, and face. The diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of misaligned teeth and jaws are the main objectives of the dental specialty, known as orthodontics. The primary goal is to achieve a harmonious and functional bite, ensuring proper alignment for both aesthetic and functional reasons.
Some of the most common orthodontic issues include malocclusions (bad bites), crowded or spaced teeth, overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Aside from affecting how the patient looks, these issues can lead to difficulties in chewing, speaking, and maintaining oral hygiene.
Let’s look more closely at how exactly orthodontics improve oral health.
Orthodontic Treatment To Improve Oral Health
Every treatment provided by an orthodontist has a direct impact on the alignment of the teeth or jaw (or both) and an indirect impact on the overall health of the patient, specifically oral health.
Here are some of the oral health benefits of orthodontic work:
Improved Oral Hygiene
When the teeth are misaligned, crooked, or crowded, it makes it hard to maintain good oral hygiene. The toothbrush and floss can’t reach all the surfaces of the misaligned teeth. This increases the risk of cavities and gum disease.
Bacteria left in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect the rest of the body, possibly developing into serious disease. Straightening the teeth enables proper brushing and flossing and reduces the likelihood of dental problems like cavities and gum disease.
There is a significant relationship between a patient’s oral health and systemic diseases like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, metabolic disorders, and cancer. The worse your oral health is, the higher the chance of these diseases developing.
Also, proper dental alignment supports healthy digestion because the teeth and jaw are aligned for good chewing function.
Prevention of Jaw Disorders
Properly realigning the jaw has several positive outcomes. One of the most significant is preventing disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These include disorders of the joint, discs, the muscles associated with chewing, and headaches.
The condition can be painful and distressing and include symptoms like:
- Pain in the jaw when chewing.
- Pain that spreads to the face or neck.
- Stiffness in the TMJ.
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw.
- Pain when opening or closing the mouth, accompanied by clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint.
- Hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or dizziness.
- A change in how the upper and lower teeth fit together.
Orthodontic treatment can realign the teeth and the jaw, which will improve the function of the TMJ and surrounding muscles. This relieves discomfort, improves jaw movement, and promotes better chewing and speaking abilities.
Bite problems like overbites, open bites, underbites, or crossbites can lead to speech impediments such as a lisp, slurring, whistling sounds, or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds.
If teeth are out of line, either leaning forward or backward, this can also lead to distorted speech patterns. Sounds don’t leave the mouth correctly when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together. The teeth may cause a lisp or other speech problems, which can make sufferers self-conscious when talking.
Orthodontic devices like braces, clear aligners, and retainers can be used to correct a bite problem over time. With orthodontic proper treatments, speech can be corrected and self-esteem will increase.
No one wants to be remembered for crooked teeth and a misaligned smile. It causes people to hide their teeth, avoid eye contact, and mumble. Both personal and professional life can be affected.
Orthodontic work can lead to a straight and aligned smile, correlating with increased confidence and a positive self-image. Orthodontic treatments correct these functional issues and contribute to an individual’s overall well-being by improving their smile and increasing self-esteem.
How to Maintain Oral Health Improvements from Orthodontics
Once a patient has the beautiful smile they have always wanted and bite issues have been corrected, here are the ways to maintain lifelong oral health:
Keep Up With Regular Check-ups
It’s important to maintain routine dental check-ups with the orthodontist. This confirms that the teeth are still in the correct placement and gives the orthodontist time to address problems as they emerge.
Practice Solid Oral Hygiene Practices
Brushing and flossing daily and keeping up with regular dental cleanings form the foundation of an efficient oral hygiene routine. Your orthodontist and your dentist are members of your oral health team, but you are the quarterback!
Wear the Retainer
Once active treatment is completed, the orthodontist will have a custom retainer made and provide guidelines on how often to wear it. It is critical to wear the retainer as instructed. If you don’t, all the orthodontic work will be undone over time as the teeth slip back to their former misaligned position.
Utilize the Power of Effective Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontics isn’t only cosmetically focused on a straighter smile; it is a comprehensive approach to ensuring lifelong oral health. And remeber, your oral health is one of the gateways to your overall physical health.
Poor dental health can lead to serious medical diseases, such as diabetes, heart problems, obesity, dementia, and others. Orthodontic treatment pays attention to your teeth and your jaws while helping to ensure that your daily oral health routine is effective, keeping harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream.
Here at Dr. Amy James & Associates, we provide top-quality care to patients in our local community, including those from Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Haddon Heights, Audubon, Cherry Hill, Greentree, Lawnside, and Barrington. We use the latest technological advances in the orthodontic industry, as well as the latest in computer technology and digital X-rays to ensure that you receive the most effective, customized care possible.
Contact us today to get started!