If you asked a dentist if you should straighten your slightly wonky, a little bit crooked smile, they would probably say something like this:
‘Of course you should! If you don’t, you could see some long-term problems.’
And because they are a dentist, you’re going to nod your head and agree to their tooth straightening treatments, so you can avoid those detrimental, long-term problems. But how many of us have actually stopped to ask what those problems are, and what would happen if we didn’t bother to straighten our teeth?
This is one of those things that, technically isn’t a health issue, or a long-term problem, but is the reason a lot of adults will have their teeth straightened. As we grow from a child to an adult, the shape of our jaw is changing as new teeth force their way through and others make space. These changes happen all the way into our twenties, when wisdom teeth start to erupt (and cause some of their own issues). As our teeth move, they can easily bend or shift at an angle, creating this crookedness. At first this isn’t too bad, but after a while it can lead to your smile looking very crooked and wonky, with teeth forcing each other out of the way. This generally doesn’t look very nice and while we don’t like to admit it, can make people judge us.
Then of course, there’s how well our teeth work. They are designed to crunch, chew, and rip, which means they need to be in contact with the teeth above them to be effective. If your teeth are crooked, then they can’t do their job properly and you will start to see problems. Some of these include:
·Jaw Joint Problems: Chronic over or under bites cause a lot of stress on the jaw, which can lead to joint damage and pain around the jaw joints.
·Excessive Tooth Wear: Wonky teeth rub and wear against other teeth, reducing the lifespan of each tooth. Wonky teeth can also increase the likelihood of bad habits like clenching and grinding, which put more stress on the teeth and wear them down.
·Gum Damage: If your lower front teeth are crooked and bite into the gum behind the upper front teeth, it can cause significant gum damage. The same goes for any teeth that are biting into or wearing against the gums.
·Tooth Decay: Teeth that overlap or sit at odd angles are much harder to clean effectively. If you can’t get into the gaps with toothbrushes or dental floss, then you are much more likely to suffer from severe tooth decay and eventually lose the teeth to it.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of this will happen if you don’t straighten your teeth. But they are common issues we see in crooked teeth, or jaws with malocclusions, so it’s worth being aware of.
Our mouths as a whole govern how we speak, so when your teeth aren’t in the right places it can cause some issues. Misaligned teeth in adults can cause lisps and difficulty pronouncing certain words or sounds, or pain when speaking. In children, speech problems caused by malocclusions can be far more harmful, because if left untreated, they can create some psychological problems and barriers around speech, not to mention impacting confidence, development and communication skills. Straightening the teeth and realigning the jaw can often solve a lot of the mechanical reasons behind certain speech problems and should be done as early as possible to avoid further problems.
Celebrity Tom Cruise had his teeth straightened
So, does it matter if you don’t have your teeth straightened? Well, no! No one ever died from having crooked teeth, so it’s not an absolute essential to get fixed. But it is something that can improve your quality of life if you’re suffering from any of these problems, and while you might not want to do it now, you may feel differently in 10 or 20 years’ time. Age and length of time the teeth have been crooked does impact the treatment methods and times, so if it’s something you’re thinking about, it’s always better to do it sooner.