October brings visions of ghosts, ghouls and goblins for children, but for adults, it is also National Orthodontic Health Month. Orthodontists around the country (including us) like to celebrate this time by spreading awareness about the benefits of straight teeth and an aligned bite.
Orthodontic Fun Facts
– There are about four million people wearing an orthodontic appliance in the U.S. and 25% of which are adults, often in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
– NASA created the wires used for braces (using nickel titanium for the space program) which are thin, elastic and flexible which use body heat to maintain their shape on the teeth.
– Braces have been around for almost 300 years since they were designed by Pierre Fauchard (the Father of Dentistry) in 1728 using flat metal material connected by a thread to the teeth. Later, the dentist Edward Angle developed more advanced and modern orthodontic hardware including brackets to straighten teeth and correct misaligned bites.
– According to archaeologists who studied mummies, ancient Egyptians tried to straighten their teeth using cords from animal intestines to simulate wires (gross, right?).
– Orthodontic appliances like braces straighten teeth, but retainers keep them aligned after the appliance comes off. Not wearing the retainer post treatment often means having to have orthodontic treatment again.
Today’s Treatment Options
Crooked teeth that don’t fit together like they should are harder to clean, making them more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease. People straighten their teeth for a variety of reasons, mainly for aesthetics (who doesn’t appreciate an aligned smile?) but also for correcting a misaligned bite like an overbite. This is important, because an aligned bite makes it easier to bite, chew and speak. For decades this meant wearing traditional braces but today’s orthodontic patients have more choices!
– Traditional metal braces: These use wires, brackets and rubber bands on the front of teeth to correct misalignment.
– Clear braces: These are like traditional braces only using clear ceramic brackets to straighten teeth.
– Lingual braces: These braces have the hardware (brackets and wires) attached onto the back of teeth instead of the front.
– Clear aligners: Typically plastic trays such as Invisalign® worn over teeth to shift gradually them into the desired position.
Not Just a Pretty Smile
Straight teeth have benefits beyond your oral health. When you have an attractive smile you will feel good about it, boosting your self-esteem which is good for your psychological health!
Aligned teeth also allow you to bite and chew food properly which helps prevent digestive issues. Other health benefits from aligned teeth include pain relief from headaches, bruxism (habitual teeth grinding) and jaw problems like TMJ.
Chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching also interrupt a good night’s sleep and can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Even sinus problems can be alleviated using orthodontics to help open up constricted airways. As you can see, orthodontics goes way beyond just a pretty smile!
Creating awareness for National Orthodontic Health Month is important because orthodontic treatment can give you a healthier mouth and body while preventing health problems from developing. To learn more about how orthodontic treatment can help you we invite you to give our team a call today!