How to Know if You Need Braces | The Reasons to Visit an Orthodontist Explained

Did you know only four in every ten adults have perfectly aligned teeth? If you have not yet discussed teeth alignment with your dentist, you may be among the six people who do not know they need teeth alignment. How to know if you need braces is the guide you need.

People nowadays wear braces for cosmetic purposes, but they are equally crucial for overall oral health. Unfortunately, as much as they are essential, people find it hard to tell if their teeth need braces.

Luckily, you can now determine if you need braces in simple steps, as this informative article explains.

How Do I Tell My Dentist I Need Braces?

Our guide outlines how to know if you need braces. It discusses how to conduct an evaluation on your own or approach your orthodontist and discuss the treatment plan anytime. If you choose to see a professional outlook, you do not need an appointment, as installing braces has become a common oral practice. Besides that, you can choose an orthodontist of your choice even if you have a referral from your dentist. 

Girl with braces at the dentist

However, it doesn't mean that you take the first orthodontist you meet. Instead, choosing an experienced and well-trained professional for your oral health is paramount. Also, check if the orthodontist of your choice accepts your insurance plan or prepare to pay from your pocket. 

Can I Get Braces Even if My Teeth Are Straight?

Most people think braces only serve people with crooked teeth and those who have cosmetic reasons. On the contrary, there are several other reasons you need braces cemented on your teeth. Jaw realignment is the main reason why you need braces, even if you have straight teeth.

Improper jaw alignment can cause an overbite, crossbite, underbite, and open bite, requiring braces. Here are other reasons why you should consider wearing braces.

  • Difficulty brushing or flossing crooked or crowded teeth
  • Frequent bites on the tongue
  • Difficulty pronouncing certain words due to wrong tongue position
  • Jaw and mouth pain
  • Pain when biting or chewing food
  • Head and earaches
  • Jaws make noise, especially when you chew or after waking up
  • Having jawline fatigue and stress after chewing.
  • What Is the Typical Age to Get Braces?

    Dentists recommend that children attend the first orthodontist appointment before their seventh birthday. They believe the early discovery of issues that require braces to solve increases a favorable outcome. Note, teeth narrowing and crowding continue as you age, and reversing the condition may require a lot more effort and time. 

    Ideally, the best age to get braces should be between 9 and 14 years or once permanent teeth grow. However, the age limit should not discourage one from getting braces; instead, one should book an appointment whenever they feel ready. Although people start getting braces in adulthood, an early visit to the orthodontist can also benefit a child with straight teeth with overall oral health.

    How Do I Tell If My Child Needs Braces?

    One early sign that your child may need braces in the future is crooked or crowded teeth. Other signs include;

    • Jaws clicking and making sounds
    • Regular tongue, cheek, and mouth roof biting
    • Breathing through the mouth
    • Thumb sucking and use of a pacifier past the age of two 
    • Loss of baby teeth earlier or late than usual
    • Sign of failure of the teeth to join together even when the one shuts the mouth completely.

    Some of the contributing factors that force a child to get braces are poor oral hygiene, genetics, and poor diet between the infant and toddler stage. 

    How Do Braces Move the Teeth?

    Braces exert constant pressure on the teeth for an extended period. The jaw bows to the pressure and changes its shape in the long run. We often think that our teeth are connected to the jawbone, making it impossible to move. The truth is that the teeth are rooted to the jaw by a membrane underneath the gums. 

    The membrane is in charge of controlling the position of the teeth and responds to pressure braces put on the teeth.  

    A girl with braces and crooked teeth

    Installing braces is a painless process that takes less than two hours. However, one may experience soreness for the first week or every time the orthodontist adjusts the braces.

    How to Determine if You Need Braces?

    Even if you have straight teeth, common orthodontic problems can affect your oral health. Here is a guide on how to determine if you need braces.

    Look For Crowded or Crooked Teeth

    Check if the teeth appear to sit sideways, overlap each other, or protrude farther than surrounding teeth. You can also use dental floss to determine if you have crowded teeth. If you find it difficult to slide the floss between your teeth, then you have crowded teeth. 

    Too crowded teeth can cause plaque buildup, leading to enamel wear, tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. But what causes overcrowding? Sometimes, the jaw bone is too small to contain all the teeth causing crowding, or wisdom teeth can cause crowding if the front teeth have weak roots and bone support.

    Crooked Teeth


    Check Your Bites

    If you are not sure if braces are good for you, examine your bite. Your teeth should always fit together when you bite. So, you may need braces if your upper or lower teeth protrude past each other or if there is ample space between your upper and lower teeth. 

    When your upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth excessively, you experience an overbite. An overbite is likely to cause trauma and injury to the front teeth and extreme tooth wear and gum disease. Teeth gaping and spacing (see 'Do Retainers Close Gaps?') are also expected to cause an underbite and usually occur if the front teeth on the upper side are behind the lower front teeth.

    Underbite occurs due to disproportionate jaw size. The effects of underbite are accelerated facial aging, pain when chewing and biting, and imbalanced facial appearance. You may also wear braces if you have a crossbite. Crossbite happens when the upper tooth crosses behind a lower opposing tooth.

    Dental casting gypsum model


    If left untreated, a crossbite can cause asymmetric jaw growth, gum recession, and tooth decay. In addition, an untreated crossbite can lead to the inability to restore fractured or worn teeth.

    You may have an open bite if your teeth don't touch when you bite down. As a result, you may experience difficulty chewing and speech problems.

    Check if You Have a Bad Breath

    If you experience bad breath even after flossing and brushing, it could be that bacteria got trapped between gaps between your teeth or crowded teeth. 

    Determine if Food Gets Stuck in Your Teeth

    If you frequently experience food getting stuck in your teeth, you may have gaps between your teeth. These gaps hold food particles, an ideal bacteria breeding site. The good news is that braces eliminate the gaps between your teeth. 

    Man flossing


    Listen to How You Speak

    If you have an improper jaw-to-tooth alignment, you are likely to notice a lisp in your speech. Braces, therefore, helps treat speech problems by adequately aligning your jaw and teeth and also help you make a good connection between the tongue and roof of your mouth for speech to flow flawlessly. 

    Talk to Your Dentist

    Your doctor is in a better place to advise you about your teeth even if they lack specialized training in orthodontic care. They can refer you to the best orthodontist in your location and prepare your teeth through fillings, extractions, or any other dental problem before orthodontic treatment commences. 

    Talking to Your Dentist


    Book an Appointment With an Orthodontist

    The orthodontist starts by inspecting the teeth to ensure that you need braces, retainers, or other forms of treatment. Braces sometimes have risks such as tooth discoloration and loss of length in tooth roots. The orthodontist also takes their patients through the different types of braces and helps them choose according to their budget, dental, and cosmetics needs.

    Metal braces are most common as they are budget-friendly and most effective. On the other hand, clear ceramic braces would be ideal for less conspicuous braces. Clear ceramic braces are less effective than metallic ones and are more likely to stain and break. 

    Patients also can choose invisible braces, which are more expensive. Invisible braces are multiple sets of alignments designed to move the teeth gradually. They generate several types of forces hence are not suitable for bite issues. 

    Orthodontist fixing the braces


    See this short video on the topic:

    The Final Word

    If not sure whether you need braces or not, always look through your mirror and inspect if you have crooked or crowded teeth. You should also check your bites. An overbite, underbite, crossbite, or open bite calls for the need to wear braces.

    Other simple signs such as bad breath, difficulty mentioning certain sounds, and food getting stuck between your teeth may also require you to wear braces (see also toothpaste for braces). Additionally, an early visit to the orthodontist can improve overall dental health.

    Early detection of oral problems is better attended to earliest time possible before it gets worse and irreversible. Because you and your child's oral health is paramount, always choose an experienced and highly trained orthodontist. 

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