Why teeth shift and why straightening them is important for adults in Mississauga, ON
Just a generation ago, braces were almost exclusively associated with teens. However, dentistry has advanced dramatically, and so has public awareness of the importance of oral health. Teeth may shift for a variety of reasons, which can lead to cosmetic and health concerns. Fortunately, this can be corrected with teeth straightening treatment for adults. Dr. Jifri and the team at Huron Dental Centre offer premium orthodontic solutions.
Why do teeth move?
Some adults have crooked teeth as a result of untreated childhood alignment problems. In other cases, once-straight teeth have shifted, which may come as a surprise. After all, teeth are quite literally rooted in bone. How is it possible for them to move so easily?
A tooth is held in place by cementum and the periodontal ligament. Enamel, the super-hard outer layer of a tooth, is only found above the gumline. On the root, the outer layer is a softer layer known as cementum, composed primarily of minerals and collagen. The tooth is stabilized by a tough, fibrous ligament, which is quite strong but allows some flexibility. This makes teeth more resilient to pressure or impact, but it also allows some mobility.
Some degree of tooth movement is quite common, and sometimes harmless. However, certain triggers can cause prominent movement of one or more teeth, possibly creating an unhealthy or unattractive alignment.
- Mesial drift – With age and the normal stresses teeth are subjected to, they tend to shift toward the center. A significant amount of drifting can cause crowding of the front teeth, where it is most noticeable.
- Tooth damage or wear – Untreated decay, significant wear, or injury can change the shape of teeth, which changes the distribution of biting force. Disproportionate pressure on certain teeth can cause gradual movement.
- Bruxism – Do you clench or grind your teeth? This common habit, known as bruxism, creates undue pressure, which can lead to problems including jaw pain, headaches, tooth fractures, premature wear, and shifting of teeth.
- Failure to wear a retainer after braces – Early orthodontic problems are usually corrected with braces during adolescence. However, immediately after orthodontic treatment, teeth can shift back to their previous location very easily. For lasting results, it is essential to wear a retainer as recommended by the dentist. Unfortunately, many teens fail to do so.
- Tooth loss – To some extent, teeth prop each other up. When pressure is exerted on a tooth, its movement is inhibited by the adjacent teeth. Just think of removing a book from a full shelf; the remaining ones tend to lean towards the gap. A similar phenomenon occurs with teeth. Furthermore, after a tooth is lost the bone in that area begins diminishing. This leaves teeth on each side of the gap with less support.
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The importance of orthodontic treatment
Orthodontics for adults are sometimes considered a cosmetic treatment. While it is quite true that straight, perfectly aligned teeth make your smile more attractive, you might be surprised to learn that they are also healthier. A few of the many benefits of straighter teeth include:
- Easier, more effective oral hygiene – Gapped, crowded, or crooked teeth have spaces that easily collect food debris, yet are difficult to brush or floss.
- Lower risk of decay – What happens when crowning prevents effectively cleaning some tooth surfaces? Plaque stays in place, building up day after day, and hardening into tartar (calculus). Meanwhile, trapped food particles help bacteria thrive. This leads to cavities, often hidden where you don’t even notice them until they spread.
- Lower risk of periodontal disease – Gingivitis and periodontitis are infections, which begin with plaque and tartar accumulation along the gumline. Like decay, the risk of gum disease increases when you can’t clean your teeth effectively.
- Improved chewing and speaking – You might not notice the difference if your teeth are slightly crooked. However, severe rotation, gaps, or misalignment can interfere with the precise jaw and tongue movements needed for optimal chewing and forming certain sounds when talking.
- Reduce wear and tear on teeth – It is normal for enamel to wear down over time, but the process normally occurs very slowly. Healthy teeth mesh perfectly when the mouth is closed, minimizing abrasion. Misalignment causes the upper and lower teeth to rub or click against each other in certain spots, which can wear them down quickly.