Exercise, rest, and a healthy diet — you’re doing the right things when it comes to taking care of your health. But did you know that staying on top of your oral health also plays a part in your overall well-being? And what contributes to good oral health is an aligned bite and straight teeth.
But how do straight teeth actually matter to my health? Here, your orthodontist in Thornton, CO, Dr. Brandon Scheer at Shine Orthodontics covers seven ways orthodontic treatment like braces or Invisalign® can improve your overall health.
1. Improves Chewing and Digestion
Simply put, straight teeth and a strong, aligned bite make it easy to chew a wide variety of foods and, therefore, help you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. On the other hand, crooked teeth, gaps, and malocclusions like underbites, overbites, or crossbites can make biting or chewing food difficult, limiting your food choices and nutrition.
As for digestion, a 2001 study showed that impaired chewing affected oral bacteria, leading to an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems. Another study found a link between chewing problems and digestive issues like bloating, cramps, constipation, and diarrhea.
2. Controls Harmful Oral Bacteria
Straight teeth are easier to keep clean from harmful oral bacteria that can contribute to serious health conditions. How do straight teeth matter for keeping oral bacteria at bay? Straight teeth have fewer nooks and crannies, while crooked teeth have lots of hard-to-reach areas for food debris and plaque to hide. Plaque left on teeth hardens into tartar; tartar then becomes a breeding ground for more oral bacteria, which invites toxins into your gums.
Too much oral bacteria can also cause periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can result in tooth or bone loss in your jaw. But it goes beyond your mouth: this severe gum infection is linked to health conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases, premature birth and low birth weight. Currently, additional research is needed to confirm if periodontal disease is a direct cause of these health issues. Still, the link alone is enough to highlight the connection between oral health and overall health.
3. Reduces Inflammation
There are many reasons for inflammation to occur in your mouth. It can come from periodontal disease or issues like teeth grinding. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, leads to uneven or excessive wear on teeth, gum recession, and stress on gums, the jaw and TMJ.
Invisalign and braces — like our cutting-edge InBrace® braces — move jaws into alignment and straighten teeth into their ideal, healthy positions, improving bruxism and giving jaws a chance to heal and reduce inflammation in the joints.
4. Protects Your Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ)
Remember we mentioned the TMJ when talking about inflammation? The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jaw and skull on the sides of your face. Persistent teeth grinding because of crooked teeth stresses the TMJ, causing inflammation and pain, headaches, and tension in your neck and shoulders — discomfort that can negatively affect your quality of life. In this case, the health benefits of braces include bringing your teeth, jaw, TMJ, chewing muscles, and facial structure into harmony to alleviate pain and let your TMJ heal.
5. Maintains Healthy Jaws Bones
Of course, you want to keep your jawbones strong and stable since they’re a critical part of your facial and oral structures. One way to maintain healthy jawbones is to ensure you have healthy teeth that anchor securely into them. Teeth that bite and chew provide consistent stimulation to your jaws. In contrast, gaps in your smile can mean your jawbone isn’t receiving stimulation in those areas, and it can begin to atrophy from lack of use, otherwise called bone resorption. Think of it like a use-it-or-lose-it situation.
Bone loss in your jaw can result in tooth loss and negatively impact your sinuses. Your facial nerves and muscles can also suffer. Aesthetically, jawbone loss contributes to a shrunken lower face, making you look older and less vibrant.
What helps? Orthodontics treatment. It promotes the preservation of your jawbone by improving the vitality and function of your teeth. If you have missing teeth, we can coordinate with your dentist for restorative work like dental bridges or tooth implants.
6. Promotes Nasal Breathing
Did you know breathing through your nose is the best way to breathe? Typically you get more oxygen into your lungs and brain than breathing through your mouth. But what does nasal breathing have to do with the health benefits of having straight teeth?
Let’s put it this way, the palate — or roof of your mouth — is also the floor of your nose. A narrow palate, combined with nasal obstructions, contributes to mouth breathing. Chronic mouth breathing interferes with craniofacial development in kids and increases the risk of sleep-disordered breathing in both little ones and adults. Achieving a broader palate with braces or Invisalign can help open the airway, encouraging better nasal breathing and less congestion.
7. Boosts Your Self-Esteem and Mental Well-being
Your overall health most definitely includes your mental health. Feeling self-conscious about how your smile looks can affect confidence. While being stressed about dental issues or suffering chronic pain can impact your daily functioning.
Start the First Step In Enjoying the Health Benefits of Straight Teeth
Dr. Scheer and the Shine Orthodontics team will bring out the beautiful smile you deserve — one that contributes to your overall health and well-being, too.