Aesthetics are an important factor in orthodontic treatment, and it’s often the primary reason patients schedule an orthodontic consultation when they have issues with tooth crowding.

There are health benefits to orthodontic treatment that are just as important as the attractiveness of your smile, and also play a role in keeping your smile looking its best.

Following are 10 reasons to fix your crowded teeth.

1. Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease, this is an inflammation of the gums that can lead to infection. If allowed to progress, gum disease can go on to damage and destroy gum tissue and jawbone. It also can cause you to lose your teeth.

Tooth crowding can leave you more vulnerable to gum disease because crowded teeth are more difficult to keep clean. They create deeper areas where food particles can become trapped and bacteria can accumulate. Gum disease is caused by bacteria. Brushing and flossing help remove much of the bacteria and plaque, but plaque that isn’t removed hardens to form tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing; it requires professional teeth cleaning.

When plaque is left to spread and grow beneath the gum line, the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed.

2. Oral hygiene difficulty

Having difficulty properly cleaning your teeth can lead to more than gum disease. It can increase your risk of tooth decay and cavities, too. If you want to maintain a megawatt smile, brushing and flossing are made easier when teeth are in alignment and properly spaced. Orthodontic treatment can make that happen.

 3. Abnormal tooth wear

Many types of malocclusion (bad bite) can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear abnormally and prematurely. Crowded teeth often don’t line up properly with their counterparts in the opposite jaw, so areas of the teeth touch when they shouldn’t. This causes unnatural wear patterns and can apply undue stress to the teeth with biting and chewing. This can even lead to cracked or fractured teeth.

4. Increased dental trauma risk

Crowding that causes one or more teeth to protrude out of normal alignment can leave you more susceptible to trauma, should you take a blow to the face while playing sports, or through some other type of incident.

We recommend that you wear mouth guards when playing sports that could result in facial trauma, and this is particularly true if you have protruding teeth, which are more prone to chipping or cracking if hit. As Clay Sims, an esteemed orthodontist in Pensacola, Florida states, “mouth guards can save a smile!”

5. Increased risk of breaking/cracking teeth

Tooth crowding can strain the teeth, jaws and muscles because crowded teeth often don’t contact each other evenly at the same time, as they should. They can’t align properly and achieve appropriate force distribution when biting and chewing. This can increase the risk of breaking a tooth.

6. Chewing difficulties

The inability for teeth to make contact with each other evenly and at the same time can create difficulties chewing your food properly, and that can lead to problems elsewhere. Large bits of food may enter your stomach and intestines when you’re unable to chew it into smaller particles, and that has the potential to cause digestive problems.

Chewing your food thoroughly also allows your body to absorb more of the nutrients, assists in maintaining a healthy weight, allows for easier digestion, and helps prevent gas and bloating, according to Mercola.

7. Speech problems

Sometimes tooth crowding can hinder the tongue from moving freely in the mouth. The tongue needs freedom of movement to properly form words and regulate the speed at which you speak. Without the freedom to make natural motions, it can be difficult to correctly pronounce certain sounds.

Sounds that require tongue-to-tooth contact such as “t” “s” and “ch” are more difficult – and sometimes impossible – to pronounce when your teeth aren’t aligned properly.

We tend to find adaptations when pronouncing the sounds we have difficulty with, which can lead to poor speech habits that occasionally require speech therapy to correct.

This is one reason why orthodontists recommend that children be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. At this age, there is a mix of baby and adult teeth, and the bite is established. If the child has difficulty making certain sounds, we can determine whether tooth crowding or another malocclusion is causing it, and we can monitor it to determine the best time for orthodontic intervention. Addressing the issue at the right time may prevent the need for extensive speech therapy later.

8. Bad breath

The appearance of your teeth can make you feel self-conscious, and so can the state of your breath. Bad breath is caused by oral bacteria left on your teeth and gums after you eat. When your teeth are crowded, they create additional nooks and crannies where bits of food can get caught, and this can lead to an increase in bad breath.

9. Overall health can decrease

Your mouth is a window into your overall health, and what happens in your mouth can creates issues elsewhere in your body. For example, crowded teeth can cause chronic headaches, neck and jaw pain, and pain in the facial muscles.

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology have identified studies that show oral infections caused by bacteria buildup have the potential to lead to more serious conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and pneumonia. The more crowded the teeth, the greater the opportunities for bacteria buildup.

10. Low self-esteem/happiness

The smile often is the first thing we notice about others. Having a smile you’re proud of matters. We’ve all seen someone who covers her mouth when she smiles or laughs. We probably all have at least one friend who refuses to show his teeth when taking a photo. Children may be teased or made fun of by their classmates because of their crowded teeth. Life is too short for that. Our friend Dr. Jason Gladwell, a Raleigh orthodontist, works diligently to improve the self esteem of his patients. We do the same for our younger patients.

There are few things that are more rewarding to see in our office than the difference between a patient’s before and after photos once they have completed treatment.

We don’t want people to let something like crowded teeth negatively impact their happiness and self-esteem, especially when it is easily addressed.

Do you have crowded teeth? Call us today to schedule an evaluation and learn more about how to achieve not only a more attractive smile, but improved health, too.