The minute you notice anything thing odd about your teeth or mouth, you may wonder ‘do I need braces?’. This is not an easy question to answer on your own, after all, you’re probably not an expert on the subject. But it is best to be careful and well informed so you can act fast if there is indeed a problem. The following are some things you can observe to ascertain if you need braces:
How to Know If You Need Braces
Get close to a mirror and get ready to look for the following signs as well as noticing if you feel any of the symptoms below:
You Have Malocclusion
Malocclusion refers to when there is overcrowding of teeth, resulting in plaque build up and gum damage. When the teeth are too close together, it becomes difficult for cleaning instruments to remove the plaque build up, allowing bacteria to fester and damage your teeth and gums. Examine your teeth in a mirror to see if they seem to be too close together. You may not be able to tell with certainty, but a good hint is to see if some teeth are sitting sideways, which would mean they are not getting enough space to grow properly and in the right direction. You can also try to floss and if the dental floss is too hard to pass between your teeth, they are probably overcrowded.
Consistent bad breath, despite brushing, could also be a sign of bacteria getting trapped between crooked or overcrowded teeth. Dental treatment with braces and a few tooth extractions should solve this problem.
Your Teeth Are Set Far Apart
Other than malocclusion and crowding, if your teeth are set too far apart, that could be a problem too. If there are large gaps between your teeth or if some teeth are proportionally smaller than others, this could also give way to gaps where bacteria can collect. This arrangement of teeth can also affect your bite.
If you get food stuck in your teeth frequently, that could also be a sign that there are gaps where the food can get stuck and give way to bacteria formation. If you have bad breath even after brushing, that could also be a sign that there are unnecessary pockets between your teeth where bacteria are prospering. Examine your teeth well to check if you see any gaps.
Your Bite is Not Right
Having the right bite is extremely important for you to be able to chew and digest your food well. You may have learned in middle school biology that if the food is swallowed without proper chewing, it will be harder for the body to break it down. Having a poor bite alignment can also cause sensitivity and overuse of the jaw muscles for chewing over a period of time. A fairly reliable way of discerning whether your bite is correct or not is to see if your upper and lower teeth fit together when you bite. If there is a large gap between the two sets of teeth when you bite down, there is a problem in alignment.
If your upper teeth cover more than half of your lower teeth when you are biting down, that could result in an overbite. Alternately, if your lower teeth extend over the upper teeth when you bite down, that is considered an underbite.
If bite misalignment is not treated, it can lead to a buildup of plaque and accumulation of decaying food on and in between your teeth, leading to gingivitis, gum infections and even dental abscesses. This makes brushing extremely difficult. Misaligned bites will make chewing difficult and possibly even painful. Greater use of your jaw muscles for chewing can also lead to strain and cause headaches. Consult an orthodontist if you notice a misaligned bite. More often than not, your orthodontist will prescribe braces for fixing a severe misalignment.
Frequent Jaw Pain
Other than your bit being misaligned, if your jaw is not set properly that can lead to several problems too and will require for you to get braces. When the jaw is misaligned, it puts stress on the temporomandibular joints. This is the joint through which your jaw is attached to the rest of your skull. It works like a hinge and is placed precariously so too much pressure on this joint will disturb the precarious structure. When this joint is overworked, it may lead to soreness and pain in the jaw. For this, you will need to get braces to correct the alignment of your jaw and relieve undue pressure from your temporomandibular joints.
You Bite Your Cheek Often
If you find yourself biting your cheek often or hitting the roof of your mouth while speaking, it could be another sign of your teeth being misaligned. Things are not in the right position and therefore, you find different elements in your mouth coming in the way of each other – the inside of your cheek should not be the victim of your bite so often. Treatment with braces should be able to fix this misalignment problem.
Lisp in Your Speech
Pay attention to your speech. If you hear a lisp, it may not simply be a speech defect but may be the direct result of something treatable like malocclusion or misalignment of your teeth or jaw. With the help of braces, you may be able to overcome this and speak without a lisp soon enough.
Breathing through Your Mouth
If you find yourself breathing through your mouth instead of through your nose, that could also be an indication of your jaw being misaligned. You may not attribute this breathing issue to a dental problem immediately, but there may be a strong connection and there is no harm in getting this checked out.
If your teeth are not aligned correctly, this will affect the position of your tongue. If you notice, when you are breathing through the nose, the tongue rests on the palate of your mouth. But when you are breathing through your mouth, the tongue cannot rest in this way, which affects your facial form and impeding airway space.
It can be hard to ascertain if you require braces on your own. But if you have the slightest seed of a doubt, it is best to consult an orthodontist and put those doubts to rest. If you have noticed symptoms, even if you do not require braces, your orthodontist will be able to address those symptoms and suggest other methods of treatment.