Are Braces Only about Aesthetics?
There’s a common misconception that getting braces for your teeth is chiefly about aesthetics. It’s easy to see how this might have started. First impressions are important in our image-conscious society, and a stunning smile can markedly alter the face you present to the world.
However, while orthodontic treatment to align your teeth may well improve your confidence and job prospects, it will also alleviate or prevent serious medical issues resulting from a bad bite or misaligned jaw. In our view, a flawless smile is a happy side-effect – but it’s not the only reason orthodontists recommend certain patients get braces.
Below, we dig deeper into why braces are about more than just aesthetics.
Are braces cosmetic or necessary?
While braces are not considered a cosmetic treatment, there’s no denying that they enhance the aesthetic appearance of your smile. Research shows that improved self-esteem and physical attractiveness are significant benefits of orthodontic treatment. In short? The aesthetic benefits of braces go beyond mere vanity: straighter teeth can, in fact, tangibly improve your self-confidence and mental health.
However, the physical benefits of braces are even more significant. Modern medicine has proven that crooked or over-crowded teeth don’t function properly. What’s more, it’s harder to keep them clean – leading to a greater chance of cavities, gum disease and potential tooth loss. Orthodontic treatment to improve a bad bite and realign your jaw may also improve sleep disorders, teeth grinding, breathing and chewing difficulties, and even speech problems.
Why braces are about more than aesthetics
Simply put, braces are about much more than simply looking good. They may help alleviate or prevent serious physical health problems, such as:
- A bad bite. A misaligned jaw affects your ‘bite’ – how your upper and lower teeth come together. This can lead to overbites and underbites of varying severity. Serious side-effects can include chronic headaches and jaw, face or back pain.
- Tooth wear. A bad bite may lead your teeth to wear unevenly, resulting in potential chips and breakages.
- Speech and chewing. In severe cases, a misaligned jaw can impact your speech. It can also make it difficult to chew your food adequately.
- Oral hygiene. Crooked or crowded teeth make it hard to brush and floss properly, leading to tooth decay, gum disease and gingivitis. Straight teeth can be much easier to keep clean.
- Overall health. Keeping your teeth clean can actually improve your overall health. Did you know gum disease and plaque have been proven to increase your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease?
What are cosmetic braces?
Cosmetic braces are a limited treatment that focuses on straightening your front teeth in a short period of time. This is an aesthetic fix that ignores most underlying jaw alignment issues and usually treats only your six front teeth – the teeth most visible when you talk and smile.
While cosmetic braces may give the appearance of a straighter smile, they don’t address the critical jaw alignment problems that may wreak havoc on your health later in life. As we’ve mentioned, a misaligned jaw may lead to pain, speech and chewing problems – and even breathing difficulties.
In addition, your new straighter front teeth may, in fact, exacerbate an underlying bad bite, compromising the stability of your teeth and increasing your chance of both relapse and more serious health issues down the track.
As a result, most orthodontists avoid prescribing cosmetic braces. After all, what good is a straighter smile if it doesn’t last?
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