Many – perhaps most – people who want braces are motivated first by the desire for a better appearance. Nothing is more attractive than a smile with perfectly aligned, sparkling teeth. Correcting extreme misalignment can even enhance facial contours.health-benefits-straight-teeth

Improving your appearance can boost your self-esteem, and that is certainly a valid reason for wanting to fix your teeth. But braces can be about a lot more than beauty. Teeth that are misaligned may lead to problems that affect not only your dental health but also your general well-being.

Here are some of the ways misaligned teeth can be harmful to your health. A couple of them may surprise you:

• Medical diseases:  Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean, which can lead to plaque buildup that in turn can cause decay and gum disease, or periodontitis. Not only do these conditions require dental treatment, but studies by the National Institutes of Health and others have shown a correlation between dental plaque and some systemic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes. More research is needed, but it’s thought the oral bacteria travels into the bloodstream.

• Tooth breakage:  If your teeth are misaligned, they are more likely to chip or break; protruding top teeth, or “buck teeth,” are especially prone to breaking.

• Headaches or neck pain:  Chewing with teeth that are not aligned properly can stress the bones that support your jaw and mouth, possibly causing chronic headaches or neck pain that could require medical treatment.

• Digestive problems:  Ineffective chewing that does not properly process your food could lead to digestive difficulties.

• Poor speech:  Misaligned teeth can affect speech patterns. Straightening your teeth could improve the clarity of your speech.

• Low self-esteem:  It’s worth repeating:  A perfect smile can raise your self-esteem, which may increase your confidence levels in your professional and personal life.

Only your orthodontist can tell you if you need braces. But don’t let worries about discomfort or your appearance keep you away. You’ll be surprised by today’s orthodontic choices. Standard braces of metal and wires are lighter and thinner than the appliances of several years ago, and they come in colors.

And you have other options. Our office is a Super Elite Invisalign Provider, meaning we are in the top 1 percent of Invisalign orthodontists nationwide. Invisalign, as its name indicates, is a nearly invisible orthodontic system that uses clear plastic trays instead of braces to align your teeth. You can remove the trays to eat or brush. Most of our clients, especially adults, opt for this method.

Other choices are ceramic braces, which are clear; and SPEED braces, which are three times smaller than traditional braces and require less treatment time.

Whatever method you choose, by having your teeth straightened, you will not only enhance your appearance but also help keep your health the best it can be.