How important are straight teeth?
A beautiful smile never goes out of style. Having healthy teeth boosts confidence and self-esteem, and reflects good overall health. And when it comes to looking your best, there’s nothing better than a straight set of teeth.
Aligned teeth reduce disease risk
Straight teeth are easier to brush than uneven, overlapping teeth that create “hidden” and hard-to-reach areas in the mouth. That makes it easier to get rid of the plaque and food debris that build up throughout the day.
Plaque is a pale biofilm composed of bacteria, food particles and saliva that forms on the surface of your teeth. It takes about 24 hours for plaque to colonize tooth surfaces, and it will continue to build up if it isn’t removed. Within a few days, it can calcify and turn into tartar.
With regular brushing, straight, well-aligned teeth are less susceptible to cavities, tartar and gum disease including gingivitis, which are all caused by plaque.
The true face of malocclusion
Malocclusion refers to problems associated with your “bite.” Essentially, malocclusion is an incorrect relation between the upper and lower sets of teeth. Sometimes, several teeth may protrude forward. For people with these conditions, a simple fall can cause teeth to chip or fracture.
Malocclusion can be caused by genetic or environmental factors, and it can have serious consequences:
- Abnormal tooth wear
- Chewing difficulties
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
- Disruption of normal tooth or jaw development
The importance of oral health for overall health
Healthy and well-functioning teeth have a positive impact on overall health. If you’re able to chew well, you’ll be able to eat a more varied diet and digest food more effectively.
Besides improving tooth function, treating malocclusion can have a positive impact on:
- Sleep (snoring, sleep apnea)
- Speech and articulation
- Facial aesthetics (teeth, lips, jaw)
- The treatment of certain diseases
- Physical and mental well-being
The human body is a complex structure in which all parts are interconnected. The mouth is no exception.
Corrective orthodontics for a healthy and attractive smile
Orthodontic treatments are available for a wide range of dental-facial anomalies in patients of all ages.
Current options include:
- Invisalign invisible aligners
- Lingual braces
- Self-ligating braces (elastic-free)
- Ceramic braces
- Traditional braces
It’s natural to want straight, well-aligned teeth. Before reading this article, you may have been motivated primarily by cosmetic concerns, but now you know more about the problems associated with malocclusion. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.
How does gum disease affect overall health?
Gum disease—also known as periodontal disease—often develops unnoticed over time. Left undiscovered or inadequately treated, it can cause or aggravate additional health problems. The Ordre des dentistes du Québec estimates that three-quarters of adults will suffer from some form of gum disease during their lifetime. In fact, gum disease is the second-most common oral condition among adults, after cavities.
The periodontium (the structure that supports the teeth) is composed of several tissues including the gingiva, the part of the jaw where the dental root attaches, the substance that covers and protects this structure, a protective ligament, nerves, and blood vessels.
Clearly, keeping the periodontium intact is important!
Plaque and tartar among the culprits
Plaque, a biofilm or mass of bacteria that accumulates on teeth, can calcify and form tartar. If this process isn’t stopped in time, the effect on teeth can be devastating.
Since plaque and tartar don’t always cause pain, they often go unnoticed. However, there are signs to look out for, like redness and swelling around the gums, sensitivity or bleeding during brushing, bad breath, and moving teeth.
The main factors contributing to gum disease are:
- Inadequate dental hygiene
- A compromised immune system due to a thyroid disorder, diabetes, pregnancy, leukemia, etc.
- Hereditary factors
- Smoking, which restricts blood flow to the gums and can alter the bacterial composition of the mouth as well as the body’s immune resistance to bacteria associated with periodontal diseases
- Certain medications
When multiple risk factors are present, gum disease can progress more quickly.
Aspects of health affected by gum disease
Various studies have found links between gum disease and other conditions.
Here are some of the health conditions that may be caused or aggravated by gum disease if it is left untreated (for example, by failing to maintain proper dental hygiene or avoiding regular dental check-ups):
- Greater risk of heart disease
- Potential for lung infection due to inhaled bacteria caused by plaque and tartar
- Higher risk of death due to a heart attack.
- Blood clots caused by bacteria in the mouth. These may be a contributing factor in atherosclerosis, a narrowing of arteries that can obstruct blood flow
- There is a strong link between gum disease, tooth loss and osteoporosis (reduced bone mass)
- Pregnant women with gum disease are 7.5 times more likely to have a premature or underweight baby
- Links between periodontal health and diabetes:
> Gum disease can make it more difficult to control blood glucose levels
> Persons with diabetes are at greater risk of developing gum disease
> Bleeding gums, the loss of bone mass and deep spaces (periodontal pockets) between the teeth and gums can indicate the onset of diabetes
For a healthy mouth and healthy body, prevention is key
A good daily dental hygiene routine is the best form of prevention. We also recommend that you see your dentist regularly, especially if you have difficulty managing your diabetes or reaching certain areas of your mouth. This will allow your dentist to diagnose and treat gum disease before it becomes serious.
Talk to an experienced dental health professional and find out how you can maintain or improve your oral health and overall well-being.
Cavity-fighting foods to include in your diet
Good oral hygiene starts with an effective tooth brushing technique. You should spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth, at least twice a day. But brushing isn’t your only ally for keeping your smile cavity-free. Did you know that certain foods can help prevent cavities by strengthening tooth enamel?
Milk and cheese
Milk contains a number of nutrients that are essential for bone and tooth health, including calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D and lactose (a natural sugar).
Hard cheese contains both calcium and phosphorus, which help keep teeth and enamel strong, as well as proteins that help prevent the bacteria from accumulating on the surface of teeth. Hard cheese also stimulates saliva flow, which helps neutralize pH levels in the oral cavity.
While dairy products are great for protecting your oral health, go easy on soft cheeses, flavoured yogurts, and sweetened milk, which offer fewer tooth-friendly benefits.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds contain fat, protein and fiber. Like milk and cheese, they contain significant amounts of phosphorus and calcium, as well as vitamins and minerals that help maintain good dental health. The dietary fiber in nuts and seeds stimulates saliva flow during chewing, which is an excellent way to protect tooth enamel. Be careful to avoid nuts covered in sweeteners like honey, agave nectar or maple syrup, as these ingredients can offset the benefits of eating nuts. If you enjoy eating fruits and nuts together, save the nuts for last because they can help neutralize the acidity produced by the sugar in the fruit.
Fruits are more acidic than other types of food, but they aren’t as damaging to teeth as juice or water with lots of lemons. Instead of fruit juice, choose fresh fruit with the peel on. As we’ve already seen, chewing stimulates saliva production. If you have a weakness for dried or stewed fruit or fruit bars, it’s a wise idea to brush your teeth immediately after consuming these foods.
Did you know?
Cranberries are rich in bacteria-fighting antioxidants (thanks to flavonoids), but they’re also effective cavity fighters. Like cheese, cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the surface of teeth.
Chocolate contains polyphenols, molecules that play a key role in cavity prevention. It also contains bacteria-inhibiting tannins as well as fluorine and phosphates. But in order to be beneficial for teeth, chocolate must contain at least 70% pure cacao. Consume in moderation and brush immediately after eating.
Tea leaves, especially in the form of green tea, are chock-full of nutrients including polyphenols and fluorine. Together, they reduce plaque and strengthen tooth enamel. To get the most nutritional benefit from this antioxidant-rich beverage, let the tea steep for 20 minutes in water with a temperature of 90°C. Naturally, you’ll get the most cavity-fighting benefits from your tea if you enjoy it without sugar or sweetener.
Here are some other foods that are great for preventing cavities:
- Wild salmon
- Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
- Raw carrots
If you have questions about how your diet affects your dental health, talk to your dentist. Your bright smile is worth it!
There are more cavity-fighting foods than you may realize. For example, did you know that even chocolate has tooth-friendly properties? To learn about the many foods that can help prevent cavities, check out our blog.