Is orthodontic treatment cosmetic?

OrthodonticsMany people put orthodontic treatment off, or even disregard it completely, because they think it’s solely for cosmetic reasons.  Parents may hold off on braces for their kids because they hesitate to spend money to improve the appearance of the teeth.  Adults may forego braces for themselves because they don’t want to spend money just for aesthetics.

It’s time for a reality check: orthodontic treatment is about much more than the appearance of the teeth.  When teeth are out of alignment in the mouth in any way, it can be more difficult to eat, speak, and clean the teeth properly.  Owl Orthodontics sees these types of cases every day.

Let’s examine a few common problems.  Sometimes the front teeth protrude, which can interfere with speech.  When the upper front teeth extend over their lower counterparts, it’s known as an overbite.  It can cause discomfort, including possibly causing the lower front teeth to hit the roof of the mouth.  With a crossbite, the problem is the opposite of the overbite: the lower teeth extend beyond the upper teeth.  Not surprisingly, this can negatively impact the alignment of the jaw and cause damage to the teeth.  With an openbite, the front teeth do not meet.  This can have a negative effect on the person’s ability to chew.

Crowding, as the name implies, means that the teeth don’t have enough room in the mouth.  Think about brushing and flossing when the teeth are straight and evenly spaced.  It’s generally simple and straightforward.  Now, think about the same task with teeth that are crooked and wedged together.  It’s much more challenging to keep the teeth clean and healthy under these conditions.

Many people believe these and other problems will straighten out over time, but the truth is that they will not.  The good news is that all of these problems can be corrected through orthodontic treatment.  Clearly, treatment that corrects problems with how the teeth work, how the jaw develops, and how the teeth are cleaned is not simply cosmetic.  It is an important part of improving overall health.  The fact is that when teeth are healthy, they work better.

If you’re unsure about whether it’s time to visit the orthodontist, there are several things to watch for.  If a child loses teeth very early or very late, that may be a red flag.  If you are having a difficult time with chewing, that may be another cause for concern.  Other signs may be less obvious: breathing through the mouth can indicate the presence of a problem.  “Sucking the thumb or fingers” can also mean that there is something going on.

Sometimes people assume that it’s just a normal occurrence when the jaws “shift [or] make sounds,” but that may not be so.  It may mean that there’s something else going on.  Problems with speaking may also yield a clue that something is wrong.  Teeth grinding can be a sign of tension, but it can also be a sign that there is an orthodontic problem.

Orthodontic treatment delivers cosmetic benefits, but they are actually secondary to the health benefits.  Healthy teeth function better and they will serve you better for the rest of your life. If you have any questions about your teeth or orthodontics, please feel free to contact us.