A lot of people are motivated to get orthodontic treatment because they want a stunning smile. At Cronin & Czarnik Orthodontics, we’re all for that! Dr. Scott Czarnik and I want our Westminster Invisalign® and braces patients to look and feel their absolute best.
That said, if you’re thinking about treatment for yourself or your child, you might be questioning if it’s really worth it. Aside from looking nice, do straight teeth matter? The answer is, yes! The benefits of straight teeth and a healthy bite aren’t just cosmetic.
Reduces your risk of tooth decay and gum disease
One of the most significant benefits of straight teeth is that they’re easier to clean. When your teeth are crowded or crooked, it can be difficult to effectively brush and floss. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when there are large gaps between the teeth, food and plaque tend to get trapped in the spaces. In either case, the end result is an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Keeping the teeth clean and plaque-free is crucial for good oral health. The bacteria in plaque, the sticky film that clings to your teeth, feed on the sugars and starches you eat and drink and, when they do, they release acids. The acids leach minerals from the enamel and, over time, if it happens often enough, tooth decay occurs. As tooth decay progresses, a hole, or a cavity, can form in the tooth. Untreated cavities may result in pain, infection and problems with chewing.
When plaque accumulates near the gums, it irritates and inflames these soft tissues. The bacteria and toxins can cause an infection called periodontal disease, or gum disease. In its earliest stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis. Gingivitis can be reversed with professional dental treatment and a dedicated homecare routine.
If it’s not treated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis, the more severe type of gum disease. Periodontitis can spread to the jawbone, causing jawbone loss. As the gums, bones and ligaments that hold the teeth in place deteriorate, the teeth loosen and, in the worst cases, fall out.
When we straighten your teeth with braces or aligners, Dr. Czarnik and I create optimal spacing. This allows you to brush and floss with ease and remove more plaque to prevent decay and gum disease.
Helps you speak more clearly
When producing certain speech sounds, your tongue needs room to move freely or, sometimes, it has to touch against the teeth. For other sounds, the teeth are responsible for controlling airflow. When the teeth aren’t in the correct place or the positioning of the jaw hinders the tongue, it can cause speech issues, including a lisp, whistling noise, difficulty articulating consonants and slurred speech.
While orthodontic treatment can’t fix all speech disorders, it can have a big impact on those related to the teeth or jaw. In these cases, getting an aligned bite and straight teeth with braces or Invisalign will let you speak more clearly.
Enables you to chew properly
Misaligned teeth or a bad bite (malocclusion) can make it hard or, sometimes even painful, to bite and chew properly. You might find yourself avoiding different foods, leading to nutritional deficiencies. If food isn’t properly broken down in your mouth by your teeth, it also moves more slowly through the digestive system, potentially causing bloating and other issues.
At Cronin & Czarnik Orthodontics, we focus on appearance and function, meaning your smile will work as good as it looks. We don’t just straighten your teeth, we also encourage the upper and lower arches to come together correctly, and we ensure the entire chewing system (i.e. teeth, jaws, temporomandibular joints (TMJ), chewing muscles, etc.) is in harmony. This will help you to comfortably eat a wide variety of foods and chew them fully for better digestion.
Prevents uneven or excessive wear of the enamel
When your teeth don’t come together correctly, the teeth that do meet bear the brunt of your chewing forces, causing them to wear down prematurely. These teeth can then look short or misshapen.
Having a misaligned bite also makes you more likely to subconsciously grind your teeth. Teeth grinding, technically called bruxism, is another culprit behind excessive wear of the enamel and tooth damage.
Moves teeth out of harm’s way
Protruding front teeth, or overjet teeth, are prone to injury and damage. If you get hit in the mouth, the teeth that are sticking out are generally most at risk for getting chipped, cracked or knocked out. Shifting the teeth back with braces or Invisalign will go a long way in preventing dental injuries.
Opens the airway in some cases
A problem with facial development in childhood can restrict the airway, causing little ones to breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. Mouth breathing in kids can, in turn, cause even more problems with the development of the facial structures, leading to issues, such as moderate to severe malocclusion, snoring and sleep apnea.
This highlights the importance of sticking with the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation to schedule a child’s first orthodontist visit no later than age 7. At this point, we can identify developmental abnormalities while a child is still growing and use appliances during phase 1 orthodontic treatment to guide their jaw and facial growth. This will open the airway and create a healthy bite.
Improves your appearance
Dr. Czarnik and I use digital treatment planning, which creates a virtual rendering of your mouth. This lets us move each individual tooth into its ideal place in a way that complements your lips, gums, cheeks and other teeth. You’ll get a beautiful smile that’s unique to you.
Depending on your orthodontic issue, treatment may improve facial symmetry. And, while it might not matter to a teenager, adults often love the fact that braces and Invisalign treatment can make you look younger. Straight teeth give the impression of good health and vitality, and when we shift the teeth into place and widen the smile, the skin around the mouth gets a little bit of a lift.
Makes a great first impression
In a perfect world, we would all be judged by what’s on the inside. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. The truth is, your smile is a prominent feature and one of the first things people notice.
Several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, found that people with ideal smiles were thought to be more intelligent and more likely to be hired for a job. Another survey by Kelton Global had similar findings. Respondents perceived people with straight teeth as more successful, smarter and more trustworthy than those with crooked teeth.
Even beyond the workplace, hiding your smile can make you seem unhappy or unfriendly even though you’re not. Straightening your teeth and smiling freely helps you show your true emotions and gives you a leg-up with first impressions.
Boosts self-esteem and confidence
Loving your smile will enhance your self-esteem and confidence. Feeling confident about yourself carries over into everything you do, including school, your career and relationships.
Confidence is a huge bonus for patients of all ages. However, during the teen years, it can be particularly beneficial and make kids more likely to try new things and set goals and less likely to give into peer pressure.
Alleviates headaches, TMJ pain and other bite-related discomforts
As I mentioned previously, one goal of orthodontic treatment is to create harmony in the chewing system. When the TMJ is in its proper position and bite forces are evenly distributed, it reduces undue pressure on the joint and chewing muscles. This can help to alleviate tooth and jaw pain, TMJ pain and dysfunction, as well as the associated headaches, earaches and neck aches.
Keeps your jaw strong
Your jawbone is stimulated by your tooth roots every time you bite down or chew. When there are large gaps, missing teeth or teeth that aren’t where they’re supposed to be, areas of the jawbone might not be receiving this stimulation. This signals to the body that part of the jaw isn’t being used and doesn’t require nutrients. Over time, the body resorbs the bone, resulting in jawbone loss.
Properly aligned teeth, on the other hand, will keep your jawbone strong and help to ward off bone loss, especially when combined with excellent oral hygiene.
Promotes better oral and overall health
A lot of the benefits of straight teeth listed above boil down to better oral health. There is a mouth-body connection and when your mouth is healthy, it’s a boon for your body too. For example, when your teeth are functioning as they should, you can eat a variety of healthy foods and get all of the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Reducing the risk of gum disease is also a good thing for your overall health. Gum disease has been tied to a number of different health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and more. Though a definitive causal relationship hasn’t been established, the link is there.
How to Straighten Teeth
Now that you know all about the benefits of orthodontic treatment, let’s talk about how to straighten teeth. Well, the first step is visiting a certified specialist in orthodontics like Dr. Czarnik and I. As board-certified orthodontists, we have the expertise and knowledge to create a smile that complements your face and optimizes your oral health and function.
At our practice, we offer:
Metal Braces –
Getting straight teeth with braces isn’t what it used to be! Today’s braces are smaller, more comfortable and much more streamlined. Our team offers two different types of metal brackets from American Orthodontics: the Mini Twin Bracket™ and the Empower® 2 Self-Ligating Bracket.
The Mini Twin bracket is one of the smallest brackets on the market and kids love them because they can customize their braces with colorful elastics. Empower self-ligating brackets don’t use elastics at all. Instead, clips hold the wires in place, letting the teeth move more freely into position with less force and friction.
Clear Braces –
We use Radiance Plus® Brackets, also from American Orthodontics, for our Westminster clear braces. The ceramic brackets are incredibly clear, stain-resistant and durable. Ceramic braces blend in with your smile, making them much less noticeable than metal braces. Clear braces are a popular option for adult and teen patients.
Invisalign and Invisalign Teen –
If you’d rather straighten your teeth without braces, our practice is a leading provider of Invisalign in Westminster, CO. Dr. Czarnik and I plan your treatment on a computerized, 3D model of your mouth. Then, the Invisalign lab prints your aligners based on our specifications. As you make your way through the series, your new smile will gradually take shape. Because Invisalign and Invisalign Teen aligners are crafted from smooth, clear, BPA-free plastic, most people won’t notice you’re wearing them.
Connect With a Westminster Orthodontist
Are you ready to enjoy all of the benefits of straight teeth and a healthy bite? Schedule a free consultation at Cronin & Czarnik Orthodontics. We’ll perform an exam, take diagnostic records and walk you through our personalized treatment recommendations to bring out the best in your smile. Our team serves patients in the greater North Denver area, including Westminster, Thornton, Arvada and Northglenn, as well as in Grand County, including Winter Park, Fraser and Granby, CO.