Whether your crooked teeth occurred as a result of genetics, a facial injury, or poor childhood habits, such as thumb sucking, you can benefit from orthodontic treatment to straighten your smile. In addition to improving your appearance, a corrected smile can help protect your dental and overall health.

In this blog, orthodontist Emanuel Mizrahi, DDS, of Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates in Forest Hills, New York, explains the potential complications that can result if you allow crooked teeth to remain in their misaligned positions.

Tooth decay and gum disease

Crooked teeth can make it challenging to clean all the surfaces of your teeth. The irregular nooks and crannies can make it difficult to brush and floss properly.

When bacteria and food debris remain in place on or between teeth, the substances combine to form plaque. This sticky substance clings to the surface of teeth and can gradually wear away tooth enamel. In addition to your teeth, this bacteria can develop an odor that causes bad breath.

As the enamel deteriorates, tooth decay and cavities can occur. Depending on the severity of the decay, treatment for an affected tooth may require a filling, crown, or root canal.

If plaque remains in place for long periods, it can harden and become tartar. If tartar remains in place, it can cause gum disease, a condition that can damage your gum and jawbone tissue.

As gum disease progresses, your gums can lose their ability to keep your teeth in place, which can result in tooth loss and the need for an artificial tooth replacement.

Increased wear and tear

Crooked teeth can cause unnatural wear of your tooth enamel, gums, and jaw muscles as they work to function around crowded teeth. This increased wear and tear can make you more susceptible to cracked teeth, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, jaw strain, and chronic headaches.

Crowded teeth can also cause one or more teeth to protrude. This misalignment can cause your upper and lower teeth to rub against each other, which could lead to unnatural wear of your tooth enamel and jaw muscles. Protruding teeth are also more at risk for chipping and cracking if you fall or experience a facial injury.

Difficulty speaking and chewing

Straight teeth allow you to speak and chew properly. Crooked teeth can prevent normal jaw alignment, which is necessary for your mouth to perform these functions properly.

The inability to speak clearly may interfere with the way you interact socially and professionally. And improper chewing may interfere with the proper digestion of your food and could also increase your chances of choking.

Poor self-esteem

Crooked teeth may also make you self-conscious about your looks and make you uncomfortable interacting with others.

Research indicates that improving a physical trait can be life-changing. If you lived for years with a smile that you were too embarrassed to reveal, getting a straight smile may elevate your attitude, self-esteem, and personality, which could help you feel more comfortable interacting with others.

Overall health risk

Crooked teeth can allow bacteria to build up in hard-to-reach places. And research has linked oral bacteria to a higher risk of arterial blockages, heart disease, and stroke.

Studies also link periodontitis — an advanced form of gum disease — to health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, and stroke. And, if you become pregnant while you have periodontitis, you may have a higher-than-normal risk of delivering a premature or low-birth-weight baby.

If you have crooked teeth, you can straighten them to get the smile of your dreams and also help improve your oral and overall health. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates today.