If you're one of 81% of adults that think their teeth are unattractive when they see them in photographs, it might feel good to know you're not alone. But it still doesn't change how you feel.
Many adults are self-conscious about their smiles because they don't have straight teeth. Whether they opted to forego braces as a child or dental conditions in their adult years have left their teeth less thanstraight, many adults are self-conscious about their teeth.
There's a lot to be said for a beautiful smile. It's one of the first things anyone's going to notice about how you look. But having crooked teeth is more than just a mental downer. When your teeth are improperly aligned, you're at higher risk for a number of health problems that can compromise your quality of life. Crooked teeth have a significant associationwith a variety of medical issues, including gum disease, heart disease.
The benefits of teeth straightening are both physical and mental. Besides making you feel better, straightening your teeth and improving your smile can have a long-lasting impact on your health.
So what are the benefits to straightening your teeth?
1. A good first impression....
While we all wish it weren't true, first impressions are often critical. The first time someone meets you, they'll decide a lot about you based on your appearance. If you're confident in your teeth, you may be more likely to smile, creating a positive first impression.
This impression can be especially important if you are interviewing for a new job or going on a first date. After all, in both of these situations, you have a limited amount of time to make a good impression. The person sitting across from you will have to include your appearance in their overall impression of your encounter. In fact, one study even found that people with a nice smile were more likely to be perceived as intelligent and successful.
So do teeth matter in a relationship? Maybe not in the long run. But they may play an important role in the early phases of developing a relationship — professional, romantic or otherwise — because of how they impact your first impression.
People who are self-conscious about their smiles are also less likely to use them. If you're at a job interview or networking event and you don't smile, that can come across as being anti-social or unwilling to interact with others. Or, people just may not feel like you're happy to be talking to them. If your crooked teeth are affecting your speech or causing you to cover your mouth when you talk, that may also be making it difficult for other people to get to know you.
2. A positive self-image....
A study from the Academy of General Dentistry found that 96% of people believe a good smile is important to a person's overall appearance. But a healthy smile impacts more than how others perceive you — it can actually improve how you see yourself.
Think about how confident you'd feel if your teeth were straight, clean and healthy. You wouldn't have to worry about how you smile or who sees your smile. You wouldn't work to avoid being in pictures or meeting new people. Instead, you can just turn on that million-watt grin for anyone around. This confidence impacts your self-image, helping you feel more confident about who you are and who people see when they encounter you for the first time and the second and the third.
In some cases, straightening your teeth may help improve your self-image because it will help you feel healthier.
If you find it hard to clean crooked teeth, you may have struggled with bad breath or discolored teeth that further impacted your confidence in yourself. By correcting the source of the problem, you are eliminating what kept you feeling bad about yourself before.
3. Improved cleaning....
Crooked or misaligned teeth are more difficult to keep clean with brushing and flossing. Crooked teeth create more crevices and spaces in your mouth that just can't be reached with a standard toothbrush. Plaque and bacteria have more spaces to thrive in your mouth, resulting in an increased risk of:
- Teeth discoloration
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can actually cause teeth to become more crooked, so you may actually end up making the problem worse by not doing anything.
Opting to straighten your teeth removes those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth and makes it easier to clean them regularly. When it's easier to take care of your teeth, you can eliminate bad breath, reduce the discoloration on your teeth and prevent serious issues like cavities and gum disease.
4. Fewer breaks, chips and cracks....
When teeth are crooked, they can protrude or stick out in ways that make them more prone to chips or breaks if you fall or hit your mouth. It can also make you more prone to bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek,producing painful sores.
Because it's difficult to have good oral hygiene when your teeth are crooked, your teeth are also more susceptible to wearing away of the enamel. Since enamel is the strong barrier that protects your teeth, this wear can make them more susceptible to chips and breaks.
A straight smile offers your teeth better protection from two things — accidents and bacteria. When teeth are straight, they are less likely to have their enamel worn away by bacteria, which keeps them stronger and protects against breaks and cracks. They also aren't sticking out of alignment,
which reduces the risk that they will be damaged if your mouth is injured.
5. Longer lasting teeth and gums
Thinking about having a healthy smile well into the future will help you understand how important straight teeth are. Crooked teeth don't offer the same longevity to a straight smile because they're more susceptible to:
- Flattening of the biting surface
- Notching around the gumline
As you age, crooked teeth are not going to hold up as well, and you increase your chances of needing extensive dental work or even having certain teeth pulled. Over time, this may lead to a need to rely on expensive implants or dentures.
On the other hand, straight teeth last longer simply because it's easier to care for them. Straight teeth are easier to clean, preventing the buildup of bacteria or plaque and reducing the areas cavities can hide in. Straight teeth are also easier to floss and brush, ensuring your gums stay healthy and strong.
A straight smile can also withstand daily and necessary use as you eat and chew. Chewing puts a lot of stress on your teeth's biting surfaces, but healthy teeth can handle the pressure better. Overall, straight teeth are easier to keep healthy and strong, meaning the odds are much better they'll go the distance and keep your mouth healthy for many years to come.
6. Money savings....
Crooked teeth increase the likelihood that you'll need to undergo expensive dental treatments. If you have crooked teeth, you're more likely to need crowns, implants, dentures or any number of treatments to correct the teeth themselves, as well as conditions that arise because of the crooked teeth.
While it may seem expensive to pay for aligners or braces, spending that money to correct a problem now will save you a lot of money later. You'll be more likely to avoid costly procedures and surgeries, and you can avoid the expense of implants and dentures later in life.