Benefits of Braces

Benefits of Braces

Why do people seek orthodontic treatment? There are 3 main reasons:


  1. To improve facial and smile appearance
  2. To improve oral health and
  3. To improve oral function


  1. To improve facial and smile appearance:

Many research studies have shown that an attractive smile carries social benefits at all ages and levels of society, while an unattractive smile can be a significant social handicap. Appearance can and does make a difference in teachers' expectations and therefore student progress in school, in employability, and in competition for a mate. It is simply a gross understatement to say that orthodontic treatment is "just cosmetic." In fact, the positive changes produce by orthodontic treatment can have a profound effect on one's quality of life and self-esteem. Our society's growing appreciation of this fact no doubt has fueled the tremendous popularity and growth of orthodontic treatment not just in children but also in adults.


Benefits of Braces Beofore

Before: This patient refused to smile before orthodontic treatment.


Benefits of Braces After

After: Believe it or not, this is the same patient at the end of her orthodontic treatment. You can’t keep her from smiling now!


  1. To improve oral health

There are several ways in which orthodontics can improve oral health. First, it is intuitively obvious that crowded teeth are harder to clean than straight teeth. Second, certain types of bite problems can contribute to damage of the teeth or gums. For example, severe overbites make it much more likely that a person will suffer a fracture injury to the upper front teeth. Also, poor bites may contribute to severe gum recession, or uneven wearing of certain teeth which may result in premature tooth loss.


Benefits of Braces Before

Before: The arrow shows an area of severe gum recession (see arrow) that is occurring because of an unhealthy bite. The official term is "Traumatic Occlusion."


Benefits of Braces After

After: Early treatment phase (age 9) to improve the bite and prevent worsening of the gum recession.


  1. To improve oral function

Certain bite problems can result in difficulty chewing, difficulty in making certain speech sounds, and may trigger clenching and grinding patterns. In addition, clenching and grinding can lead to muscle fatigue and spasm which has been shown to contribute to problems with the jaw joints (TMJ dysfunction). By establishing a healthy bite, orthodontic treatment may prevent or alleviate these problems.


Benefits of Braces Before

Before: This picture shows a patient before braces. Note that he is not holding his mouth open. This is his actual bite! The arrow shows the only place where his teeth actually touch. Imagine how difficult it would be to chew your food with this kind of bite. Incidentally, the tooth where he bites was fractured from over-use and needed to be extracted.


Benefits of Braces After

After: This shows the same patient after braces. I think his chewing ability is much better now…don’t you?


References:


Shaw, WC. The influence of children's dentofacial appearance on their social attractiveness as judged by peers and lay adults. American Journal of Orthodontics 79:399-415 (1981)


Shaw, WC, et.al. The influence of dentofacial appearance on the social attractiveness of young adults. American Journal of Orthodontics 87:21-26 (1985)


McNamara, JA, et al. Occlusion, orthodontic treatment and temporomandibular disorders. Journal of Orofacial Pain 9:73-90 (1995)


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