A lot of people think of orthodontics as a cosmetic treatment, in that the reason most people get it is to straighten their teeth and make their smile more attractive. While the benefits of doing this shouldn’t be overlooked, orthodontics is actually able to accomplish much more than simply improving what you see in the mirror. In fact, it’s often the key to solving long-term problems and stopping chronic pain! How so? Read on to learn how orthodontics can benefit your health just as much as your appearance.
Stop Chronic Jaw Pain & Headaches
Right in front of both of your ears is your jaw joint, which is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. This joint, like all others in the body, can sometimes become strained and overworked, leading to persistent pain in both the jaw and head (this kind of problem is referred to as a TMJ disorder, or TMD).
Often, the root cause is a misaligned bite—the way the teeth line up doesn’t allow the joint and the surrounding muscles to rest, so they become tense and sore. Fortunately, orthodontics is highly capable of adjusting the bite so that the teeth, jaw joint, and facial muscles all work in harmony so the person can be relaxed and pain-free.
Halt Teeth Grinding
Bruxism, or unconscious teeth grinding, tends to occur while someone is asleep, so putting a stop to it is virtually impossible. Over time, this can prematurely age the teeth and cause them to break down and crack.
Just like TMDs mentioned above, a misaligned bite can be the source of bruxism, as the body is constantly adjusting trying to force the teeth to come together properly.
By adjusting the teeth with orthodontics, the bite can be correctly balanced, which will make the body stop the unconscious movements that lead to bruxism.
Snoring and sleep apnea occur when the upper airway becomes restricted and prevents someone from fully breathing throughout the night. Snoring is caused by air pushing its way through and causing the oral tissues to vibrate, and with sleep apnea, the air can be cut off entirely for 10 seconds at a time.
While there are many health factors that can lead to snoring and sleep apnea, a big one (especially for children) is a narrow oral cavity, which provides less room for airflow. This means it’s much easier for the whole system to become confined or blocked.
Through the use of orthodontics, the hard palate of the mouth can be widened, creating a more open and freer airway. In kids, this cannot only help resolve sleeping issues, but it can also reduce teeth crowding and give their adult teeth the room they need to come in straight.
This is just scratching the surface when it comes to the health benefits that orthodontics can offer. Because of its wide array of applications, the American Dental Association recommends that every child receive an orthodontic evaluation around the age of 7. This way, if there are any signs of the problems touched on above, they can be resolved relatively quickly and easily, and the child will enjoy better health for a lifetime to come.
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is an award-winning, board-certified orthodontist who has served patients of all ages in the Columbus area for years. He loves helping people improve their health as well as their smiles through his work, and if you or a loved one is currently dealing with persistent jaw/head pain, teeth grinding, or sleep issues, he may be able to offer the solution you need. To get in touch and schedule a FREE in-person consultation, click here.