For all appearances, teeth seem to be relatively stable and stuck in one place. In reality, our teeth are actually in a constant state of flux, shifting around from day to day. Sometimes, even hour by hour. This constant change explains why losing a tooth can cause long term problems with our bite and our jaw joints. A single missing tooth can allow it’s neighbors to move and wreck a perfectly stable, healthy bite. Like it or not, our teeth are constantly changing.
One of the more common esthetic and hygienic questions dentists hear has to do with the crowding of patients’ bottom front teeth. As we age, many peoples’ lower anterior teeth start to crowd and get overlapped. This crowding is an esthetic problem to some and a hygiene problem for all. Crowded teeth are much more difficult to floss and clean because there are extra nooks and crannies for bacteria and plaque to hide in. Sometimes, the overlapped teeth and bacterial accumulation cause localized gum infections and even cavities. Almost always, this build up of bacteria leads to chronic bad breath. Imagine all the air leaving your mouth wafting over millions of bacteria doing their business on your teeth.
The good news is that crooked bottom front teeth can be fixed. There are several ways to go about it, but orthodontics (braces) is usually the most conservative and effective. Limited orthodontic treatment (straightening a few teeth instead of idealizing the whole bite and position of the jaws) can be relatively quick, with initial results in a few short weeks. It is amazing how fast teeth can straighten with modern orthodontic techniques. Under the right circumstances, teeth can also be straightened with clear plastic trays or tooth colored wires and brackets. There are even braces that can be placed on the back or tongue side of the teeth to hide them. These are called “lingual braces” and they are a great option for people who don’t want to see silver wires on the front of their teeth.
As with most things in life, the different solutions for straightening teeth each have their indications, pros, and cons. If you don’t like those crowded bottom front teeth, ask your dentist what options might be right for you.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send comment to Drs. Parrish through www.ParrishDental.com.