Why having straight teeth is important

Having straight teeth is not just a matter of looking good. While correcting crooked or crowded teeth can help to significantly improve one's appearance by bringing teeth, lips and face into proportion, it can also contribute to your overall dental health and wellbeing.

Having straight teeth will help you maintain better oral hygiene and reduce your long-term risk of dental caries and bad breath. This is because misaligned teeth are harder to clean, allowing plaque to build up in areas that trap food residue. This will cause bacteria to multiply in the areas that are neglected, heightening the risk of developing cavities and bad breath.

People with straight teeth are less prone to gum disease, which happens when plaque deposits infect the gums, causing it to become swollen, red and bleed easily. Over time if left untreated, it can impact the support of teeth and eventually cause them to loosen prematurely. Studies have shown that when teeth are properly aligned, gums fit tighter around the teeth, resulting in better gum health.

As the two main purposes of our teeth are to facilitate food processing and speaking, our teeth should be maintained in its optimum condition to effectively perform those functions. Dental misalignment can cause disproportionate pressure on certain teeth. This can often lead to premature deterioration of the affected teeth, which jeopardises the integrity of the tooth structure and supporting bone, sometimes even causing facial pain and headaches.

Our teeth play a vital role in allowing us to be convincing and effectual speakers. The simple formation of sounds and the enunciation of words can be a challenge for those with gapped or crooked teeth. For some, this could lead to a permanent lisp.

Today, teeth straightening is no longer something that one associates with the awkward teenage years, as more and more adults are opting for treatment in recent years.

For those who may be daunted by the prospect of wearing braces, and how it may affect their professional image and attractiveness quotient, a more discreet treatment to consider is Invisalign (right), which move teeth into alignment without using the more obvious metal brackets and wires associated with conventional teeth-straightening treatments.

The clear Invisalign aligners that are used to reposition teeth are also removable, allowing patients to maintain good oral hygiene and enjoy their food throughout treatment without the fear of getting food trapped in your braces when you eat.

With a deeper understanding of the oral health advantages of having straight teeth, we can be in a better position to prevent unnecessary problems, prolong the useful years of our natural teeth and enjoy a richer quality of life.

This article was contributed by Dr Cheng Eng Wah, the principal partner and founder of i.DENTAL Surgeons. He has been in private practice for more the 20 years with a special interest in the field of orthodontics, and he is an accredited Invisalign dentist with Platinum Elite Provider status.