Braces are a rite of passage for many teenagers (although adults can need them, too!). It might not seem like it at first, but you’ll be so pleased you had them when your teeth are white, straight and beautiful.
Apart from the apparent benefits straightening wonky alignments and giving you a great smile, there's some further ripple effects from getting braces you’ll also love. Here’s some reasons why braces aren’t the embarrassing and often uncomfortable implements you believe them to be when you first get them:
- A healthier mouth environment for life. Having perfectly aligned teeth makes it easier to prevent tooth decay throughout your lifetime. Overlapping, crowded teeth are a haven for food, tartar and plaque – they're more difficult to brush adequately and to get floss or piksters between the tiny gaps can be a nightmare. But braces regulate the gaps, which means you’re less likely to wear away the enamel in the long run and tartar or bacteria won’t break off your teeth and enter your bloodstream, creating serious health issues.
- Less likelihood of gum disease. If there are significant gaps between your teenage teeth, they can become a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. When brushing is difficult, bacteria can multiply quickly, eating away at your gums. Your oral health declines as a result – and that's a bad thing because it can lead to lots of other problems, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, asthma, osteoporosis and cancer. When you look at it this way, braces don’t seem so bad, do they?
- Better digestion. Often braces are applied to correct an inconsistent bite – and that’s important because, when you’re able to bite and chew your food correctly, digestion is more natural and you get all the nutrients you need to thrive. Not being able to chew thoroughly leads to increased poor health as you can’t crush your food to the right size to be digested as it should be. This can lead to stomach and gut problems later on.
- Correcting a lisp. A severe underbite or overbite can cause speech impediments because you need to press your tongue to your teeth to pronounce certain sounds. The embarrassment of braces might be awkward when you're a teenager, but a lisp adds extra fodder for teasing. Thankfully, when your braces come off, your lisp is more likely to disappear, too.
- Realigning your jaw. A misaligned jaw can prove painful, causing recurring headaches, earaches and TMJ (temporomandibular joint, the hinge that holds your jaws together) disorder. TMJ causes your face, jaw and ears to ache and makes chewing an agony. Part of the reason braces can be painful is they are realigning your jaw into the correct position.
- Building your self-esteem. In addition to helping teeth grow white and straight, braces can dramatically improve your facial appearance, particularly if you have an overbite. This can cause your upper lip to protrude and sunken cheeks, created when your jaw and teeth don't fit together well. Also, if you've made a habit of hiding your teeth because they're unsightly, braces can set you free. And there's no greater feeling than when the day you get your braces off, and your beautiful smile shines brightly for everyone to see.