How Straight Teeth Can Sustain Your Overall Health

January 11, 2017
J. Courtney Gorman, DDS, MS

how-straight-teeth-can-sustain-your-overall-health

You make my heart smile. Now that the holidays are behind us, we’re about to be inundated with mushy lines like that through Valentine’s Day. But what if I told you it wasn’t that far off from the truth? What if I told you bad teeth can create other health problems? What if I told you that creating a better, healthier smile could also give you a better, healthier heart?

It’s true. Healthier teeth can mean a healthier heart, and here’s how.

How Healthy Teeth Can Affect Your Heart

The majority of our patients come to us to correct some sort of malocclusion—orthodontist speak for a misalignment of the teeth and jaws. But many don’t initially realize that straightening their teeth can actually improve their overall health.

Malocclusions, like crowding, spacing, overjet, open bite, overbite, underbite, or crossbite, can all make it difficult for you to brush and floss your teeth. And without treatment, the bacteria formed by trapped plaque and tartar buildup can then lead to periodontal disease—orthodontist speak for an infection of the teeth, gums, and potentially the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.

What’s that have to do with your heart?

Periodontal disease can increase your chances of developing atherosclerosis—a cardiovascular disease in which plaque builds and hardens inside your arteries. Here’s how:

  1. Pockets begin to form under the gums, collecting bacteria.
  2. Gums become infected by bacteria, turn red, and/or bleed during brushing or flossing.
  3. The bacteria then destroys gum tissue cells and infects blood vessels and connective tissue.
  4. Your body responds to the inflammation by increasing its production of white blood cells and acute phase proteins.
  5. The volatile mixture of bacteria, white blood cells, and proteins damages and creates plaque in the cells around your coronary arteries, leading to hardened arteries.*

And as a result, atherosclerosis increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or even death. And if that wasn’t enough, periodontal disease can cause more complications for those with diabetes and increase the risk of respiratory diseases.

Misaligned teeth are no laughing matter.

How to Make Your Heart Smile With Healthier Teeth

So now what? That’s a lot of doom and gloom, so where do we go from here? How can you help reduce your risk of periodontal disease, or subsequent diseases, as a result?

First things first, continue (or begin) practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth after meals, floss once a day, and regularly rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing antimicrobial mouthwash, such as Listerine. These steps will help keep you on the road to greater overall health.

But, of course, regular brushing, flossing and rinsing will not be able to shift any existing malocclusions. You’ll need the assistance of a well-trained orthodontist who can create a personalized treatment—via Invisalign, braces, first phase treatment, and/or other orthodontic appliances—to straighten your teeth. Only then will you more fully increase the health of your teeth, gums and jaws and reduce your risk of bad teeth creating other health problems.

At Gorman & Bunch Orthodontics, we like straightening teeth. But ask any of the doctors and staff at our five Central Indiana offices, and you’ll soon discover that we got into this business to do far more than cosmetic alterations.

We practice orthodontics to improve the health and livelihood of our patients. Contact us today to see how we might be able to help your family.

 

*SOURCE: Align Technology, Inc.

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