Orthodontics Are for Everyone

Do you already have a perfect smile, complete with Hollywood-straight teeth? Don’t assume all is well, according to dentists and orthodontists. That’s because, despite looks, even the straightest-looking teeth can often hide problems that can cause everything from a painfully bad bite to microscopic cracks and chips in the tooth enamel. This means that despite that even-looking grin, you could someday deal with painful repercussions that are costly and painful to fix. Dr. Alexandra George is a Wexford, Pennsylvania, dentist. She says that everyone – no matter how beautiful their smile is – owes it to themselves to get an orthodontic exam. “When we think of orthodontics, we most likely think of straightening out a crooked smile,” says George. “It seems like a strictly cosmetic procedure to some, but orthodontics really can do so much more.” For example, George says one of the most useful things orthodontics can do has nothing to do with aesthetics. Orthodontics can correct a bad bite, something that can cause everything from difficulty chewing to chips and cracks in the teeth. “If the teeth are hitting or scraping at each other when you chew, or they simply aren’t aligned evenly when your jaw is closed, you could be doing damage to your enamel,” George says. Enamel is the semi-translucent outer layer of your teeth. Though it is the hardest substance in the human body, unlike bone it doesn’t grow back when damaged. That’s why we need fillings when our enamel is damaged. But an aligned bite is one more way to protect that enamel. Another reason people get orthodontic treatment is for a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder. Temporomandibular joint disorder affects an estimated 10 million Americans, most of whom are women. It occurs when the temporomandibular joint becomes misaligned with the rest of the skull and can cause everything from jaw stiffness to tinnitus and head, neck and back pain. What’s more, according to George, you can have a beautiful smile and still have temporomandibular joint disorder. Thankfully, a category of orthodontics called neuromuscular orthodontics can help treat temporomandibular joint disorder by realigning the jaw to its optimal placement. George is a practitioner of this type of orthodontics and has seen success in her patients who undergo this treatment. Another reason to visit the orthodontist? Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans each night – and many of them don’t even realize it’s a problem. While some may wonder what their dentist or orthodontist can do to help with their sleep, George says many dentists and orthodontists can provide sleep orthotics that help prop the airway open as the patient sleeps. If you have never received an orthodontic evaluation, George says it’s never too late to get one. As for children, dentists recommend they receive their first orthodontic exam at age 7. “It’s a good age to get a treatment plan in motion if that is necessary,” says George. “It not only helps the parents prepare for the expenses related to the treatment, but more importantly the sooner the treatment begins, the better the results.”

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