Straight Teeth Are Healthy Teeth: Why Alignment Matters

When most people think of teeth-straightening treatments like braces and Invisalign©, they think only of the cosmetic benefits. But while having straight, properly-aligned, evenly-spaced teeth certainly does make your smile look great, the benefits of alignment go a lot deeper than that. Optimizing your alignment and spacing offers health benefits too — both for your oral health and for your overall health.

Cavities and decay

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria and acids start to wear away at the outer layers of your teeth. When you eat, a sticky film of plaque forms on your teeth. Plaque contains a lot of bacteria, and when it stays on your teeth, the bacteria inside the plaque will begin to erode the outer layers of your teeth, eventually forming a cavity. If the bacteria reach the deeper pulp portion of your tooth, it can infect the tooth pulp — and that means you’ll need a root canal. 

Of course, the best way to remove bacteria and plaque is with regular brushing and flossing. When your teeth are lined up properly, with no crevices or crannies, it’s a lot easier to clean them — and to keep plaque, bacteria, and cavities at bay. But when your teeth are crooked or out of alignment, cleaning them is much harder. Plaque and bacteria can find safe refuges in those crannies and corners, and that means they’ll have lots of time to cause damage.

TMJ and headaches

If you have chronic headaches or other painful problems like facial pain or jaw pain, you could have temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. TMJ happens when your bite is out of alignment. Poor alignment results in excess strain on your jaw joints, and eventually, they can become inflamed. Strain also tugs at your facial muscles, making headaches and facial pain a lot more likely. 

People who have TMJ are also more likely to grind their teeth, especially at night when they can’t even tell they’re doing it. All that grinding wears away the tooth surface, causing tiny cracks that increase the risks of decay, infection, and breakage.

Gum disease, bad breath, and tooth loss

Gum disease is the top cause of tooth loss among adult Americans, and if your teeth are crooked, you’ve got a higher chance of getting gum disease, especially the more advanced stages when tooth loss occurs. Gum disease starts when bacteria collect along the gum line. Often, these bacteria are “hidden” by sticky plaque or hard tartar deposits. As the bacteria multiply, they move down the tooth, releasing toxins that cause bad breath. The toxins also irritate the gums around your teeth, and the gums respond by pulling away from the tooth, creating tiny “pockets” that make it easier for bacteria to reach the lower parts of the tooth. Once the bacteria reach the root area, they cause infections that weaken the tooth and cause it to fall out.

Careful brushing and flossing are really important for dislodging the bacteria before they get into the gum tissue. But when your teeth are crooked, you can have a lot of small spaces where tartar and bacteria can hide. That means your chances of developing gum disease are greater, and so are your chances of developing the most serious type of gum disease, periodontitis, which is when tooth loss occurs.

Heart attack, stroke, and more

Gum disease bacteria do more than cause bad breath and tooth loss. They’ve also been associated with heart disease, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis, respiratory infection, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Researchers think the link with respiratory infections like pneumonia happens because you breathe in some of those bad bacteria and they get into your airway and lungs. But how these bacteria move from your gums to other areas isn’t well understood. One thing that’s known is that by preventing gum disease, you could decrease your risks of all these other serious medical problems.

Straighter teeth for better health

At Advanced Dental Care of Austin, we offer state-of-the-art Invisalign treatment so patients can enjoy the cosmetic benefits of a beautiful smile, as well as the health-related benefits proper alignment can provide. If you’ve been ignoring your own alignment issues because you don’t consider them a priority, you could be setting yourself up for more problems down the road. To learn more about the Invisalign system or to schedule your own evaluation, book an appointment online today.

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