When people think about the impact of crooked teeth, one of the first things that comes to mind is physical appearance of the smile and how it affects self esteem. Most people’s primary motivation to seek treatment for crooked teeth is to improve the appearance of their smile. However, the impact of crooked teeth goes beyond physical appearance. Issues with tooth and jaw alignment are associated with decay and other damaging effects, and can potentially increase the risk of other general health issues.
Crooked Teeth Can Affect your Oral Health
There are several ways that crooked teeth can have an impact on your oral health. Issues related to crooked teeth include:
Damage to the Teeth and Jaw
Issues with tooth alignment can cause extra wear on protruding teeth. Abrasion on the teeth can damage fillings or wear down the outer layers of the teeth and cause tooth sensitivity. When the bite doesn’t align properly it can lead to bruxism (teeth grinding) and cause pain and strain in the muscles of the jaw and face. Bruxism can also lead to headaches.
Crooked teeth can make it harder to reach the entire surface of the teeth when brushing and flossing. When the teeth aren’t properly cleaned on a regular basis it leads to complications such as tooth decay. When plaque and bacteria are not removed effectively, the plaque hardens into tartar that can only be removed by professional scaling.
Bacteria between the teeth causes inflammation, so if the tight spaces between the teeth can’t be reached with regular flossing it can lead to bleeding and gum disease.
Although your mouth feels fresh after a quick brush or rinse with mouthwash, a lot of odour-causing bacteria live between your teeth in the areas that are hard to reach when the teeth are not properly aligned.
Higher Risk of Injury
If some teeth are protruding it can make them more likely to be chipped or damaged. Minor cracks can often be repaired using a white filling, but more serious injuries may require a root canal, crown, or dental implant.
Complications of Poor Oral Health
In some cases, issues with oral health can lead to general health complications such as infections or higher risk of certain diseases.
- Respiratory and Other Infections: People with ongoing tooth decay or gum disease may be breathing in extra bacteria from the mouth. It is thought that in some cases bacteria in the mouth can contribute to respiratory infections, pneumonia, or other lung and respiratory issues. In addition, when gum disease is present, disruptions to the gum tissue can create an entry point for bacteria to get into the bloodstream.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of gum disease. When gum disease is present, it may affect the management of blood sugar levels. This can contribute to the development and progression of diabetes. People with diabetes are also generally more susceptible to infection.
- Dementia: Although the two may seem unrelated, there is research that supports a possible connection between poor oral health and the development of dementia later in life.
To prevent the symptoms and complications associated with poor oral health, it is important to maintain a good oral health routine and visit your dentist regularly. Your family dentist can help find solutions to any issues you are having keeping your teeth and gums healthy. If crooked teeth are affecting your oral health, your family dentist can recommend options for orthodontic treatment to help properly align your teeth and jaw.