Benefits of Braces
Why do people seek orthodontic treatment? There are 3 main reasons:
To improve facial and smile appearance
- To improve oral health
- To improve oral function
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
produced 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.
|Before: This patient of Dr.
Couto refused to smile before orthodontic treatment.
|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!
2) 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.
|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.
|After: Early treatment phase
(age 9) completed by Dr. Couto to improve the bite and prevent
worsening of the gum recession.
3) 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.
|Before: This picture shows a
patient of Dr. Couto's 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.
|After: This shows the same
patient after braces. I think his chewing ability is much better
now don't you?
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
McNamara, JA, et al. Occlusion, orthodontic treatment and
temporomandibular disorders. Journal of Orofacial Pain 9:73-90 (1995)