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Function vs Aesthetics: Which is Most Important in Orthodontic Treatment?

We work with many children, teens, and adults to correct their bite and straighten their teeth. There are typically two main reasons for receiving orthodontic treatment. The first is function – having a good bite is important for healthy living. The second is aesthetic – having straight teeth and a pretty smile can give you confidence.

Many patients ask, “Is it more important to treat for function or aesthetics?” In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of both, and explain some of the common methods for orthodontic treatment.

Treatment for Function

We use the term “malocclusion” to describe a bad bite. It’s a fancy word, but essentially it means your teeth don’t fit together properly. While you can still eat and speak, malocclusion can cause several problems:

  • Bad bite can create unnecessary pressure on certain teeth, leading to chipped or damaged teeth.
  • Bad bite can cause extra stress on your chewing muscles that can lead to headaches and TMJ syndrome.
  • Overcrowded teeth make cleaning your teeth more difficult, and therefore make decay more likely.
  • Overcrowded teeth can lead to gum disease and loss of teeth.

As you can see, getting orthodontic treatment isn’t just about having a nice smile; it’s about creating a healthy mouth that will remain healthy for years to come and function well.

Treatment for Aesthetics

Having a healthy smile often accompanies an attractive smile. While you may feel it’s too vain to focus on the appearance of your smile, studies have shown the aesthetic appearance of your smile can make a positive difference.

A study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics discovered that, “The ratings of attractiveness, intelligence, conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion differed significantly depending on the occlusion status depicted.”

Because others perceive people with good smiles as more attractive, intelligent, and agreeable, this had significant implications for people in schools, professions, and communities. Kids are picked on less at school, adults have a better chance at getting a job or a promotion, and so on.

Not only does an appealing smile help the way others perceive you, it can also improve your own confidence. No need to hide your teeth during pictures or first dates; with good orthodontic treatment, you will take greater pride in the way you look.

Which is Most Important in Orthodontic Treatment?

And now the answer to the big question: is function or aesthetics more important in orthodontic treatment?

The answer is…

they go hand-in-hand and are both important. In other words, if you treat for aesthetics, that means you’ll also have to treat for function. And, if we treat for function, we’re going to make sure it looks good.

This is because a functional bite looks right. There is no overbite or underbite, and the teeth are not overcrowded or crooked.

What kind of problems can orthodontic treatment fix?

Orthodontic treatments can solve many different problems, both functional and aesthetic. Here are just a few:

  • Overbite:
  • where the upper front teeth stick out too far over the lower teeth

  • Underbite:
  • where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back

  • Open
  • bite: there is space between the biting surfaces of certain teeth when you bite

  • Spacing:
  • noticeable gaps between the teeth

  • Crowding:
  • when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate; this is a very common cause of crooked teeth

What kind of treatment options are available?

Speaking of function and aesthetics, if you’re thinking about getting braces, you’ll no doubt be concerned about the way you or your child will look while wearing them. There are three primary options for aligning your teeth.

Metal Braces: These are the most common form of braces and they are made out of stainless steel. Although they are the most noticeable, they’re the most popular choice for kids and teens because of cost and ability to handle more severe or constantly changing treatments.

Ceramic Braces: These are made of translucent (clear) material and are most popular with adult patients because they are less noticeable. The main drawback to ceramic brackets is that they are more fragile than metal braces (which is why they aren’t always appropriate for kids), and the elastic ties can discolor between orthodontic visits.

Clear Aligners: Invisalign treatment is also very popular with adults because it is the least noticeable. Not only that, but it gives you freedom and flexibility to take your aligners out during meals or special events, and makes it easier to keep your teeth clean. Invisalign works best on mild cases of misalignment and isn’t always recommended for severe cases.

Get started on your new smile

If you or your child needs to receive orthodontic treatment, whether for function, aesthetics, or both, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist.

If you’re in the Alpharetta area and are looking to enjoy the benefits of a great smile, then contact us at Jordan Orthodontics. Our team has extensive experience correcting every type of malocclusion, and we have worked with countless children and adults. We hope to see you soon!


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