Are braces medically necessary?

It’s a hot-button question that’s been raging online, especially after Michael Thomsen noted in The Atlantic, “Today’s orthodontic practices rely on equal parts individual diagnosis and mass-produced tool, often in pursuit of an appearance that’s medically unnecessary. Basic advances in brushing, flossing, and microbiology have largely defeated the problem of widespread tooth decay — yet the perceived problem of oral asymmetry has remained and, in many ways, intensified.”

If you think Thomsen sounds like an expert in the dental field, think again. He’s a writer and editor at several media outlets, including The Daily Beast and Faster Times.
Of course, not all orthodontics treatments are necessary, but many times they are. Orthodontics, from braces to Invisalign, shift the teeth into a better position. But what exactly does better mean?

When you have 28-plus teeth in your mouth as an adult, it’s no surprise that they rarely align as they should. People have all types of habits, from sucking on hard candies to grinding their teeth. These so-called bad habits can lead to permanent shifting of the teeth into a position that’s far from ideal — and not just aesthetically speaking.

Brace Yourself

Consider braces for crowded teeth. These teeth can be so difficult to properly clean that tooth decay runs rampant. If it’s nearly impossible to brush and floss adequately, you’re basically skipping that process. While dental technology has seen many advances over the years, at-home tooth brushing and flossing have seen few. Crowded teeth can also grind against one another when chewing, and once you lose part of your tooth, you can’t get it back.

Having certain-sized gaps between your teeth can also cause problems. These gaps can become pockets that collect food — a gathering place for more bacteria — which ultimately leads to plaque and tooth decay. If you brush and floss as recommended, you should be able to remove these food bits, but that’s often not for several hours after eating. Having proper spacing often requires orthodontics, and it’s rare to find a person who has perfectly spaced teeth from genetics and luck alone.

For Vanity’s Sake?

There’s nothing vain about pursuing a better bite. Improper bites can lead to poor chewing and digestion, speech problems and even trouble sleeping. While the majority of orthodontic patients are teens and children, more and more adults are seeking straighter teeth, too.

It’s easier to shift teeth in a growing mouth, which is why the teen years are best for orthodontics, but it’s possible at any age. If you’re after a better bite, better spacing and just happen to get a more attractive smile in the process, that’s an added bonus.

For all your orthodontic needs, call Johnson Elite Orthodontics and find out what an improved bite can do for you.