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Straighter teeth perform chewing, biting and speaking functions more effectively than crooked teeth. In addition, a straight smile boosts confidence, is aesthetically pleasing to look at, and can help stave off a wide variety of dental ailments.
There are several types of malocclusion including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding. Each of these alignment problems negatively impacts the functionality and cosmetic appearance of the teeth.
Here is a brief overview of some of the main disorders associated with crooked teeth:
Periodontitis – Periodontitis or gum disease begins with a bacterial infection. The bacterial infection is caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Crooked teeth are hard to clean effectively, which means that debris, plaque and bacteria can build up in hard-to-reach areas. Straight teeth are much easier to clean and are at less risk of contracting gum disease.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) - Crooked teeth can lead to improper jaw alignment, which in turn may cause a painful condition known as TMD. Severe headaches, jaw pain, open or closed lock of the jaw and the grinding of teeth may characterize this potentially debilitating disorder.
Tooth injury – Straight teeth create a strong wall, which means injuries are less likely to occur. Crooked teeth are weaker and often protrude, making them far more vulnerable to external injury.
Uneven wear – Crooked teeth cause some of the teeth to work harder than others when biting and chewing. Straight teeth share the workload evenly, meaning less risk of injury and better aesthetics.
Sometimes, straightening teeth can be of great benefit in creating a more perfect smile. The appearance of straight teeth can often simply be created in porcelain restorations. Crooked and discolored front teeth? No problem. With eight crowns or veneers those teeth can be made to look white and straight. However, doing so may not alleviate the damaging stress placed on the root of a malposed tooth, and may also require very aggressive reduction of existing tooth structure, potentially requiring root canal therapy. Positioning teeth in their ideal position before making porcelain restorations idealizes stresses, minimizes the amount of tooth structure that must be taken away, and may even reduce the numder of crowns or veneers need to achieve your desired look.
Teeth can be straightened using either orthodontic braces or customized aligning trays. Orthodontic braces are usually affixed to the teeth for a set duration. The brackets and archwires are tightened regularly by the orthodontist and removed when treatment is complete. Fixed braces can be placed on the front side or back side of the teeth and are effective for most types of malocclusion.
Aligning trays are fully removable and are used where the malocclusion is less severe, and the teeth need to move a shorter distance. These trays are replaced every few weeks for the duration of the treatment, and have proven to be equally effective for straightening teeth.
If you have questions about orthodontics and straightening teeth, please ask your orthodontist.