With orthodontic treatment, we generally have a goal, which we say is to correct a malocclusion. What’s a malocclusion?

According to Wikipedia, a malocclusion is where the teeth in the upper jaw and the lower jaw when they approach one another are misaligned or in an incorrect relationship. But also apart from correcting the physical structural relationship of one set of teeth to the other we also want to tidy up things like crooked teeth or gaps.

Why correct malocclusions?

Malocclusions can cause dental and facial problems. Typically a malocclusion where somebody has the top front teeth sticking out too far and can’t get their lips together. Sometimes we call it Bucked Teeth, which would be a common malocclusion that we would see and notice.

On the other hand, people with a very prominent lower jaw with lower teeth in front of the top are another common malocclusion that people notice and consider to be physically less attractive.

What sorts of problems can a malocclusion cause? 

If we correct them, we find that there are benefits offered in the appearance. Orthodontic treatment will improve the appearance of your teeth. It can also result in appearance and functional changes as well as better ability to chew food. Finally, it can prevent future problems in terms of wear and we will discuss each of these areas. But certainly, facial appearance has been well documented as the most single important determinant of physical beauty.

Aesthetics

The main reason that people seek orthodontic treatment is that they do not like the way their smile looks. Most patients would come to an orthodontist and say their concern is crooked teeth. Very few people notice that they have an incorrect bite. More people will just simply have a concern with the crudeness of their teeth.

We all want to track these smiles. Although people can be sometimes too shy to say so and will be unwilling to impart the information that the reason they’re not smiling is simply that they don’t like the look of their teeth.

Problems that we would find include the shape and position of the teeth themselves or the jaws themselves. The presence of gaps from missing or small teeth and how much gum and tooth shows when you smile.

When we smile we convey a lot of messages and a subliminal level to other people. A smile has been said to be among man’s most important interactive communication skills. People who have a natural comfortable attractive smile are more at ease in social situations and put other people more at ease with them and tend to be considered more friendly.

Function

Straightening crooked teeth and improving bad bites or malocclusions can benefit function in the following ways:

  • It certainly enables better tooth cleaning. There’s no doubt that straighter teeth are much easier to be kept clean less responsible for gum disease and dental decay. 
  • Well-aligned teeth are also predisposed to less wear and damage from chewing problems.
  • There’s less risk of trauma to teeth. For example, people whose top front teeth stick out more than 5 millimeters over their bottom front teeth will have a much higher chance of breaking off their front teeth throughout life.
  • Improving a malocclusion can result in better chewing and a better ability to bite through foods as well as better performing Gorge joints.

Preventing future problems

Improving function can prevent future problems as well. So you’re not just dealing with the problem at the time but future-proofing your life and your teeth. Your teeth are to last you throughout life. 

Gum disease, tooth decay and tooth wear are all dramatically improved by having straight teeth. Problems such as these can be much more expensive and or difficult to repair later on in life when the disease has progressed significantly. So it’s much easier to get these sorted out before they’re a significant problem. 

Why does orthodontic treatment matter?

People use personal physical attractiveness as an informational cue. Our perceptions of another person are based on a person’s physical attractiveness. Expectations of that person are instantly determined by this smile and their presentation to you. We instantly pick up these cues and we tend to treat them accordingly. People use this physical attractiveness in how they treat other people. Studies have been done, which show that photographs of people attached to their exam results will cause a change in the way the examiner marks the paper simply based on a person’s physical appearance. It will cause us to behave differently towards other people on a subliminal level. This is all established with as little as a 100 millisecond glance. Just a quick astir glance as we are designed by nature, to sum up another human being very quickly and make expectations on their health, their marital status, their employability, their friendliness, and their social circle. All of these things we gain with a very brief glance at somebody.

Physical attractiveness does impact our selection of friends and mates, our employment, both in the hiring of a person and the presentation to clients. It impacts whether a person will receive help from others or not. Physical attractiveness impacts our biological health. There is a direct relationship between physical attractiveness and biological health. It impacts our psychological well-being. If we feel good about ourselves, we will mentally be better able to cope with life. 

In 1993 The Wall Street Journal reported in a study of physically attractive people against others considered less physically attractive showed that physically attractive people earn on average 10% more than unattractive people. I guess there’s a financial reason for doing it as well as a health reason.

Back to the question: why does having orthodontic treatment matter? Because orthodontic treatment has a very real potential to improve people’s lives. It looks better. It works better. It prevents complications for the future and it improves your social and economic status. A new smile is not just a new smile. It can give benefits that last a lifetime and are profound in a person’s life.

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