Orthodontics provide pleasing smiles and overall health benefits.
One of the primary reasons people seek orthodontic treatment is to improve their smile.
But besides giving their owner self-confidence, straight teeth also have health benefits, explains orthodontist Blake Henry. For example, increased tooth wear from crooked teeth interferes with proper chewing, makes cleaning difficult and increases risk of tooth decay, cavities and gingivitis, along with straining the teeth, jaws and muscles.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children see an orthodontist by age 7. “Most of the time at that age we don’t have to do any intervention or any extensive treatment or anything,” Henry says, “but it’s a good time to see someone in terms of growth and development, and getting a baseline to make sure everything is in the right place, and coming out and in at the right time.”
However, it’s never too late to fix misaligned teeth. Henry says he is seeing more and more adults seeking treatment for crowded teeth. “They’re not only seeing the psychological implications of not having the perfect smile, but they are seeing the benefits of having straight teeth,” he says.
When it comes to perfecting smiles, there are many more options available today than even 10 to 15 years ago, Henry says. “Traditional braces are still the route that is oftentimes the most efficient and the best way to get teeth straight,” he says. Generally, braces are more effective for complex issues; there is no temptation to take them out, which makes the process longer; and there are no extra cleaning steps besides brushing and flossing.
Clear braces — traditional braces with clear brackets — also are an option now. These are sometimes more attractive to adult patients who don’t want to go the traditional braces route. However, Henry says the benefits of braces far outweigh their temporary inconvenience.
“We see everyone from school-age children to adults, and their relationships improve after orthodontic treatment,” Henry says. “Long term, overall, there are huge psychological benefits to having a good smile — a smile you can be proud of.”