It's easy to think of crooked or misaligned teeth as a purely cosmetic problem, and not something that can have a serious impact on your overall oral health. And if you're thinking that the only benefit to straightening your teeth is an improved smile, you may be tempted to pass on paying for orthodontic work. However, ignoring your crooked teeth may be a serious mistake. Take a look at some health risks that you can avoid by straightening your smile.
When your teeth are misaligned, they're harder to clean, because they may crowd each other out, making it difficult to brush and floss effectively. When that happens, you're more likely to experience a buildup of plaque on your teeth and bacteria can grow between your teeth and on your gums. This puts you at risk for gingivitis, which can turn into periodontitis if left untreated.
When you straighten your teeth, you'll be putting them back into a position where they can be more easily reached with toothbrush bristles and dental floss, allowing you to clean them more effectively.
For the same reason that crooked teeth are vulnerable to gum disease, they're also vulnerable to the kind of tooth decay that can eventually lead to tooth loss. When you have plaque and bacteria that can't be easily cleaned away, you're at greater risk of tooth loss. However, tooth decay isn't the only reason why crooked teeth put you at risk of tooth loss.
If your tooth misalignment causes some of your teeth to protrude – for example, if you have an overbite – the protruding teeth are at greater risk of injury than your other teeth. In an accident, teeth that stick out further than they should are more likely to chip or crack. Even if you have them repaired, these teeth will be weaker and you're more likely to lose them at some later point.
Misaligned teeth may not meet properly when chewing, which can make eating difficult or uncomfortable. You may still be able to eat a meal, but if you experience jaw pain, headaches, or neck pain after eating, it could be a sign that your teeth aren't connecting properly while chewing.
Furthermore, your teeth can "drift" over time. Even if you aren't having chewing problems now, you may experience them as your teeth move further and further out of alignment, especially if you lose a tooth at some point.
Don't let crooked teeth harm your overall oral health. If you have crooked teeth, talk to an orthodontist about a plan for straightening them.
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