While no one likes the look of crooked teeth, what many people may not know is that having crooked or misaligned teeth has the potential to cause oral health issues that can eventually have a negative impact on the rest of your body. One of the largest threats faced by those who have crooked teeth is the possibility of developing gum disease, known clinically as Periodontal disease or Periodontitis. Continue reading for more information on the correlation between crooked teeth and gum disease, and how an individual should go about managing their oral health with crooked teeth.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, referred to by dental professionals as Periodontal disease or Periodontitis, is the condition that develops when bacteria is allowed to sit both on and under the gums. Gum disease is broken into two stages; the first is known as gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums. During the gingivitis stage of gum disease, the individual will experience bleeding and pain when brushing or flossing their teeth. Slight redness and irritation can be examined in the gums.
A common misconception that can be quite dangerous to the proper management of oral health is that it is normal to bleed a little when brushing or flossing. This could not be further from the truth. Many dental professionals will remind you that if you started bleeding while washing any other part of your body, you would have a major concern and seek an answer from a medical professional immediately. For whatever reason, people seem to think that it is perfectly acceptable to see bleeding when practicing at-home oral care.
The truth is that any sign of bleeding or pain while brushing or flossing should prompt you to speak to your dentist or dental hygienist about your treatment options as soon as you can. Gingivitis, while unpleasant, is completely reversible with the proper care and home maintenance. Those diagnosed with gingivitis will be planned for a two-part deep cleaning, and from then on will be able to return to regular cleanings to manage their oral hygiene. As long as the individual practices proper home care, Gingivitis can be completely reversed, and bleeding and pain will no longer be a concern.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
- Red and irritated gums
- Bleeding when flossing or brushing
- Soreness in gums, usually after brushing or flossing
When gingivitis is not properly managed, it progresses to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is characterized by strong redness, pain, and bleeding of the gums at any time, not only limited to when brushing or flossing. The progression to second-stage gum disease is due to the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria forms in the mouth in the form of a substance called plaque, which hardens into a substance known as tartar if it is not removed.
Tartar is a rock-hard substance that can not be removed by simply brushing; it must be removed by a dental professional during a deep cleaning known as scaling. Those diagnosed with gum disease also commonly experience the looseness and loss of teeth, as the bacteria in tartar has to ability to eat away at the gum and bone, eventually causing the teeth to loosen. If the proper precautions and hygienic care are not taken, the individual will lose their teeth.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Heavy bleeding of the gums (even when untouched)
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Large pockets between the tooth and the gum
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Looseness of teeth
- Recession of gums
- Recession of bone
- Soreness and pain in gums (even when untouched)
- Extreme redness and irritation in gums
Those diagnosed with Periodontitis, or gum disease, require the deep cleaning in order to maintain their gum disease and prevent it from progressing. Unlike gingivitis, gum disease is not reversible. While it is not reversible, it is possible to prevent the condition from getting worse. To do this, the individual diagnosed with gum disease will be recommended for periodontal maintenance cleanings, otherwise known as scalings, during which the hygienist will remove the tartar from around and under the gums.
After the removal of the tartar in the mouth, the hygienist will place antibiotics under the gums to promote the healing and cleanliness of the area. These deep maintenance cleanings are done regularly, usually every three months, to ensure the complete removal of bacteria from the entirety of the mouth.
What Causes Crooked Teeth?
Crooked teeth can be caused by a number of things. For most people, a large part of the development of crookedness in the teeth can be attributed to genetics. Mis-aligned teeth are something that has the potential to be passed down from generation to generation. Jaw alignment and crowding are two of the largest factors in crooked teeth that can be inherited. Crowding occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth for teeth to grow correctly in. This is usually corrected with orthodontic treatment, such as braces, Invisalign, or spacing devices.
Crooked teeth can also be caused by bad habits instilled during infancy and early toddler years. Habits like thumb-sucking and the use of pacifiers have been linked to the development of crooked teeth due to the force placed inside the mouth and on the developing teeth. For this reason, the use of pacifiers is strongly condoned by dentists, and it is recommended to discourage children from sucking their thumb. Taking these small steps has the potential to save the child years of orthodontic treatment later on in their life.
Injury or trauma to the jaw or mouth also has the potential to lead to the mis-alignment of teeth as well. The loss of a tooth eventually leads to the remaining teeth in the mouth to shift, which can cause issues with the individual's bite.
How Do Crooked Teeth Cause Gum Disease?
Crooked teeth have the potential to cause gum disease in a few different ways. Crooked teeth are obviously more difficult to clean, as certain parts and surfaces of the teeth are not exposed, and some parts of the teeth may even be inaccessible if there is extreme crowding. Mis-aligned teeth are also more difficult to floss between, making it easy for food and bacteria to get caught between the teeth and remain there. As we now know, when bacteria are allowed to sit on the teeth and gums, it forms into plaque or tartar.
The crookedness and crowding of the teeth prevent from proper cleaning even if the individual practices proper home care. This eventually has the potential to lead to gum disease if the plaque or tartar is not removed by a dental professional. Crooked teeth may also lead to the looseness of gums, which allows for bacteria to get in the pockets between the tooth and the gum.
As previously mentioned, when bacteria are allowed to sit between the tooth and the gum, it has the potential to eat away at both the gum and the bone. This causes the teeth to become loose, and if left untreated, the individual develops a risk of losing their teeth. While crooked and misaligned teeth are not the main cause of gum disease, individuals with crooked teeth have a strong chance of developing the condition as opposed to those with straight and aligned teeth.
Crooked teeth are not just aesthetically unpleasant. This condition also has the potential to lead to numerous health issues, with gum disease being one of the most serious. If you have developed crookedness in your teeth, or if you have always struggled with crooked teeth, you may be familiar not only with being unhappy with the way your teeth look but also with the difficulty that comes with trying to maintain your oral hygiene. With crooked or misaligned teeth, there are two options for the proper maintenance in order to prevent gum disease.
The first option is to undergo orthodontic treatment such as braces, spacers, or more modern options like Invisalign, which is a clear, retainer-like device that works to straighten the teeth. Working with your orthodontist to straighten your teeth will not only give you a smile you can feel more confident about; it will also help you better maintain your oral health, both at home and in the dental office. Creating the proper spacing between your teeth will allow for both you and your dental hygienists to properly manage your oral health.
If orthodontic treatment is not an option for you, it would be wise to discuss your options with both your dentist and dental hygienist for maintaining proper dental hygiene with crooked or misaligned teeth. Maintaining cleanliness between the crooked teeth is the key to avoiding the development of gum disease. For this reason, you may want to set a tight and regulated schedule of regular cleanings with your hygienist to clean the areas that you are not able to reach yourself at home.
Having crooked teeth does not mean that you can't have proper oral hygiene. Make a point to speak with your dentist and dental hygienist as soon as you can to better manage your oral health.