“Breast-feeding links to straighter teeth,” declares an often quoted New York Times article. Another article about how pacifiers might affect dental alignment in babies is shared even more widely. People do care deeply about how well aligned their teeth are, often spending as much as $5,000 on invisible aligners, or traveling to other countries for more affordable sets. Most people who spend such sums on straightening their teeth wouldn’t be able to articulate why exactly they felt that straighter teeth were worth this kind of investment. Nevertheless, their conviction is borne out by good science.
To begin, there are the practical benefits
To anyone who struggles with misaligned teeth, the problems are obvious — difficulty chewing correctly, brushing properly and enunciating correctly are only the beginning. Tongue and lip injuries often come from accidental bites, as well. In some cases, misalignments can be so severe as to cause pressure differences in the jaw when chewing, leading to chronic headaches. Some studies point to the link between poor dental health and overall health
As important as these practical considerations are, it can take some people years to come to see that crooked teeth are problem worth spending money on. It is a common idea that those who attempt cosmetic procedures are vain, and it’s a thought that won’t leave them. This can especially be a problem with people in middle age. They may have grown up at a time when cosmetic dental procedures were considered unnecessary. Now that perceptions are changing, though, they are beginning to see how sensible such care can be.
Vanity isn’t a bad thing, either
Studies have shown that people who start out with incorrect dental alignment grow measurably happier when they successfully address the problem. There’s more to such happiness than simple improvements to self-image. People with proper dental alignment are considered more approachable by others, and are seen as more successful. One study published in the LA Times demonstrated with startling effect how quickly people changed their perception of those with incorrect dental alignment when they were shown pictures with digital corrections put in. Such perceptions can result in improved social success, and sometimes, even better job opportunities, depending on the kind of career path that one is on.
Correcting dental alignment doesn’t have to be difficult
In some cases, people do need oral surgery to correct severely dental misalignment. In most cases, though, braces and other methods are adequate. An investment in dental health is hardly about cosmetic improvements. The benefits can run very deep.