If your child is entering their adolescent years with dental misalignments, it's important to know that crooked teeth can be a factor in the low self-esteem of some teens. Fortunately, straightening your teen’s teeth can both improve their overall oral health and significantly increase self-esteem and self-confidence.
How Crooked Teeth Affect Self-Esteem in Teens
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Orthodontic Science found that having crooked teeth or a bad bite, also known as malocclusion, negatively impacts self-esteem in teens. Researchers found that the following factors had the greatest negative effects on adolescent self-esteem:
- Multiple forms of malocclusion
- Improper spacing of the anterior teeth
- Dental crowding
In addition to fixing alignment issues to promote a healthier mouth and fewer problems later in life, “orthodontic treatment in adolescents can also help self-esteem,” Beth Rosenberg, DDS, MS, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Teeth that are crooked or a smile that is uneven or not straight can lead teens to not want to smile, to cover their mouth when they talk, or to avoid social interaction altogether.”
If you see these behaviors in a teen who may be struggling with self-image issues due to malocclusion, it’s important to take potential mental health issues seriously. Untreated crooked teeth “can lead to anxiety, depression, or other mental problems,” Rosenberg explains. This is why it can be crucial to get your teen’s teeth fixed in a timely manner.
There are other advantages to getting your child orthodontic treatment during their teen years too. “Adolescence is a time when many kids are in orthodontic treatment, so if a dentist/orthodontist recommends orthodontic treatment, the teenager will be among peers going through treatment,” Rosenberg notes.
Orthodontic care can play an important role in your child’s physical, mental, and oral health. The purpose of orthodontic care is to create a healthy and functional bite, which promotes dental and general physical health, explains the American Association of Orthodontics. Straightened teeth are also less at-risk for decay, gum disease, and injury.
The aesthetic effects of orthodontic treatment can also have positive emotional benefits. According to the American Association of Orthodontics, self-confidence and self-esteem may improve as treatment brings your child’s teeth and jaws into alignment and a more desirable smile takes shape.
Unfortunately, crooked teeth will not resolve on their own and can worsen over time. As children get older, their orthodontic problems can also become more difficult to treat. In order to fix misaligned teeth, “dentists and orthodontists may recommend traditional metal braces or clear aligners,” Rosenberg says.
Whichever method you choose to fix your teen’s crooked teeth, straight teeth can have a significant impact on their life that extends beyond a good bite. A 2020 Progress in Orthodontics systematic literature review recognized that malocclusion has negative effects not only on self-esteem, but also on overall quality of life.
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