Have you always wanted straighter teeth? Do you hesitate to open your mouth all the way to flash a big smile in photos?
Our board-certified general and cosmetic dentists at Loudoun Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Leesburg, Virginia, can answer your questions about modern techniques for straightening teeth.
We examine your teeth and gums and let you know if you’re a candidate for the Invisalign® system, which can give you rows of beautiful, straight teeth.
But the reasons why your teeth should be straight are more than cosmetic. Crooked teeth can result in conditions that can harm your oral health.
Teeth that are crooked can push adjacent teeth out of line. A crooked tooth also can crowd another tooth, leaving virtually no space between them and making it difficult to clean them properly.
It’s hard to brush between crowded teeth, and your brush can’t reach the sides of your teeth. It’s also hard to floss.
Even when you diligently brush twice daily, you could end up with food left on your teeth. This leads to plaque and decay. Straightening your teeth improves your ability to keep them clean and healthy.
When you have crooked teeth and can’t brush them as you should, you get a sticky buildup of bacteria called plaque on and around those teeth. The plaque eventually forms a substance called tartar that’s impossible to remove with regular brushing.
Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gum disease. Signs include tender gums, bleeding when you brush, bad breath, sensitive teeth, and receding gums. When gum disease (or periodontitis) is advanced, you may need gum surgery to restore enough gum to keep your teeth in place.
If your teeth are misaligned — a crossbite, for example — your upper and lower teeth don’t align when you bite down. When this happens, some teeth are subjected to more wear-and-tear than others. The enamel on those teeth may erode, making them more prone to cracks.
Abnormal wear can take a toll on your molars. Your molars exert the equivalent of 150 pounds or more of pressure when you eat. Your abnormal bite may cause you to clench or grind your teeth when you’re sleeping. Clenching your teeth can almost double the pressure on them.
Your teeth are meant to withstand normal pressure evenly spread among all of your teeth. If your teeth aren’t in alignment, only some of your molars meet when you chew, so they take the full burden of that pressure.
When that amount of force goes to any tooth, it eventually becomes damaged and its enamel wears down. As a result, you’re at risk for cracked teeth, cavities, and infection.
If your teeth are misaligned, you can develop temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. A primary symptom is jaw pain. You can also experience pain around your ears, face, and neck. You may hear a popping or clicking sound when you chew; it may even hurt to eat.
Over time, your jaw may be forced out of its normal position, leading to joint damage, such as erosion or degenerative joint disease.
The Invisalign system has revolutionized teeth straightening. The clear aligners are virtually invisible, so no one has to know you’re undergoing the correction process.
With Invisalign, you don’t have to bear the discomfort and sore mouth caused by traditional metal braces. The aligners pop out when you eat, brush, and floss, and we provide you with a handy carrying case when you’re away from home.
If you’re investigating straightening your or your children’s teeth, call Loudoun Family and Cosmetic Dentistry or book an appointment online today.