Most people associate braces with children and teens, but more and more adults get fitted for braces each year. Oral health issues—cosmetic, medical, or both—are not limited to young people, especially because adults who already had braces as teenagers sometimes have to go back for a second round years or decades later. There are lots of conditions that require professional straightening. You may be wondering how to know if you need braces, so we’ve put together a list.
Look for these signs and talk to your dentist. If you are experiencing any of them, they can help you find the right solution to fix the issue.
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How to Know if You Need Braces
- Your teeth look crowded or crooked. If your teeth overlap, look misshapen, or otherwise seem crooked or “squished together,” you might benefit from braces. One of the most important things that braces do is shift your teeth to create proper spacing between them. If your teeth are too close together, braces can help shift them a tiny bit farther apart so they look nice and even.
- Your teeth have gaps between them. This is the opposite of looking crowded. When the gaps between your teeth are too wide (or too small), it isn’t just a cosmetic issue—it can also cause serious problems with your bite or jaw later on. Your teeth should be evenly spaced in your gums.
- Your bite is crooked. When you clench your teeth, do you have a significant over-or-underbite? Do some of your upper and lower teeth not touch each other when you bite down? When you bite down, your teeth should fit together naturally from top to bottom and side to side. Braces might be necessary to correct this.
- You have persistent bad breath. If your teeth are too close together or have grown in crookedly, it becomes much easier for food particles and bacteria to build up between them and cause plaque—which in turn causes bad breath and cavities. This can lead to periodontal disease, gingivitis, dental abscesses, and even tooth loss. If your teeth are significantly crooked, brushing and flossing twice a day might not fully solve the problem.
- You experience frequent jaw pain. A misaligned jaw puts extra stress on the joints that attach your jaw to your head, which causes pain. If you frequently experience soreness or pain in your jaw, you might need braces to help correct your jaw alignment and your bite. This sign can often be overlooked, so be sure to mention it to your dentist when asking about how to know if you need braces.
- You bite your cheeks a lot or have difficulty chewing. Another common symptom of a misaligned jaw is accidentally biting the inside of your cheeks a lot, or not being able to chew well due to a crooked bite.
- You have trouble getting rid of plaque. Again, if your teeth are too crooked or crowded together in your mouth, bad bacteria and bits of decaying food tend to get stuck in the hard-to-floss places. You should be able to comfortably floss between each and every one of your teeth. If you can’t reach some places—or cannot push the floss between too very close teeth—braces can help.
Learn About Your Options
Of course, the most common solution to tooth alignment issues is braces. They are a tried-and-true method of fixing even some of the most extreme tooth alignment issues, and more and more adults choose to get braces each year. Braces are made of metal brackets glued to your teeth and connected by metal wires and rubber bands. The wires and rubber bands exert constant pressure, and the braces gradually shift your teeth to their proper position in your mouth.
Another option is Invisalign. Invisalign consists of aligner trays—one for the upper teeth, one for the lower—made of smooth, comfortable, BPA-free clear plastic. Like braces, each set of aligners exerts constant pressure on your teeth to gently, gradually shift them into place. Invisalign is a great solution for patients with relatively simple alignment issues, but for patients with more complicated needs— if you need your teeth rotated or moved vertically, or if you have issues with your hard-to-reach back molars, for example—Dr. Wes may recommend braces over Invisalign.
No matter your age, it’s never too late to make your teeth straighter, healthier, and more beautiful. Complete the form below to request a free Invisalign consultation.