Not just a beautiful smile: Orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth

Not just a beautiful smile: Orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth

Not just a beautiful smile: Orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth

Sunita Chandiramani, DMD, MS

by Sunita Chandiramani, DMD, MS, diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and clinical associate professor of orthodontics at the UofL School of Dentistry

The benefit of braces is not only cosmetic. Orthodontic treatment straightens teeth, ensuring a good bite that makes it easier to chew and speak. In some cases, teeth are straight, but the upper and lower jaws may not meet properly. Jaw or tooth alignment problems can be inherited or result from injury, early or late tooth loss, or thumb sucking.

Correcting the problem can create a nice-looking smile, but more importantly, orthodontic treatment results in a healthier mouth. Not correcting an abnormal bite could result in further oral health problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, affected speech and/or chewing, abnormal wear to tooth enamel and jaw problems.

Since abnormal bites usually are noticed during adolescence, orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment during this time helps produce optimal results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have completed growth. Adults can have braces as long as the teeth are healthy.

Modern braces have become more comfortable. Newer materials apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth, and usually require fewer adjustments. Options include traditional metal braces, tooth-colored braces, braces that go behind the teeth and clear aligners.

Most people have braces for one to three years. This is followed by a period of wearing a retainer that holds teeth in the new positions.
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