Although many people believe that orthodontic treatments are primarily for cosmetic purposes, having braces fitted for yourself or your children also has many health benefits. For children it can reduce tooth decay and it is never too late to have orthodontic treatment and it should be considered by adults with crowded teeth as a preventive measure to allow them to retain their own teeth into old age.
Here, Dr Sameer Patel, our Clinical Director offers his advice on how orthodontics can prevent a build-up of harmful bacteria, and why it can be beneficial to consider treatment early.
1. Keep tooth decay at bay
Quite simply, if teeth are misaligned it makes them harder to brush and floss properly. Poor oral hygiene is linked to a wealth of problems such as an increased risk of cavities, bad breath and gum disease and if certain surfaces of the teeth do not receive proper cleaning, the result is a need for fillings, root canals, extractions and other expensive procedures. Opting for braces can provide a long term solution to keeping your teeth clean, and improving the overall health of your mouth without the need for uncomfortable treatments.
2. Combat the causes of gingivitis
Complications in dental hygiene caused by crooked teeth and overcrowding can also impact on the health of the gums. Gingivitis-the early form of gum disease-affects over half of adults in the UK and is mainly caused by the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Dr Sameer Patel advises visiting an orthodontist at around 8 years old to pinpoint any problematic areas and recommend corrective orthodontics before issues develop.
3. Lower your risk of developing heart disease
Statistically, people who have braces as a child or teen have a lower incidence of cardiovascular (heart) disease. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to a condition called periodontitis which affects the tissues that support teeth and encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. If these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can be a cause of strokes, heart disease and diabetes.
4. It’s a numbers game
The majority of children have braces between 11-14 years old depending on their dental development. However there are a small percentage of children that need early interceptive treatment/phase 1 so that when they have phase 2 orthodontics in their early teen years, the orthodontics is much easier. Thumb sucking, small lower or upper jaws or very protrusive upper front teeth are all common reasons why children require interceptive orthodontic treatment around the ages of 7-9 years old.
5. Orthodontics can prevent further health problems
An under-bite, overbite, or other forms of misaligned teeth are not uncommon and can cause a wide range of health complications with moderate to severe consequences. An incorrect jaw position can result in headaches, chewing problems, speech difficulties and even painful disorders of the jaw joint. There is also a correlation between crooked teeth and breathing problems which in some instances can block the airway and hinder sleep.
6. Improve self-esteem and confidence
A poor self-image and lack of confidence is linked to depression and poor self-esteem. An attractive smile can make a person feel better about their appearance and, according to studies, confident individuals tend to be more successful in educational and professional endeavours.
7. Braces can be fun!
Having braces is now considered a very normal part of teenage years and at elleven we find that teens often select coloured elastics to make a bold fashion statement. The self-conscious teen or adults can opt for more discreet ceramic braces with white wires or the ultimate in invisibility – lingual braces (behind the teeth).
8. Regular check-ups keep your teeth in check!
It is important to keep an eye on your children’s teeth and ultimately it is the responsibility of your family dentist to keep an eye on the development of the teeth. It is good practice to take your children to a dentist EVERY 6 months. Most dentists will advise you on the right time to refer your child but if you have concerns about their teeth you can seek an orthodontic opinion yourself. There’s no harm discussing your concerns with an expert and it is particularly relevant if your child suffers from protruding upper front teeth, crowding, over bites, or missing teeth.