Although you might typically associate braces with awkward teenagers, the truth is that adults can need them, too, as can younger kids. As you get older, your teeth might shift in position, meaning that even if you had a perfect smile and perfectly aligned teeth as a youngster, they are now crooked or your bite has become uneven. An orthodontist can look at your teeth and recommend braces or other orthodontic treatments to you. In the meantime, here are a few signs that you might need braces.
Teeth are Crowded
When the teeth are crowded in the mouth, they might overlap or sit crookedly in the gums. Crowding can be a problem for several reasons. For one thing, it can make a person feel self-conscious about his or her teeth, especially if the teeth are very crooked. For another, it can be make difficult to really clean the teeth when brushing and flossing. If there’s a lot of overlap, food can easily get trapped between the teeth, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Severely crooked or crowded teeth can be difficult for even a trained hygienist to clean.
There are Gaps
While crowded teeth can be a problem and a reason to get braces, so can teeth that are spaced too far apart. Gap teeth have become fashionable lately, with several models sporting a small gap between their two top front teeth. But, fashion shouldn’t be a reason not to get braces. Just as teeth that are too close together can be a challenge to clean, so can teeth that are spaced far apart. It’s easier for foods to get stuck in the gaps between teeth, giving bacteria something to grow on, and increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.
Bite problems can take many forms. Some people have an overbite, meaning there’s a lot space between the top row of teeth and the bottom row when that person bites down. While it’s possible for a person to be born with an overbite, some people develop one after years of using a pacifier or sucking their thumb.
Some people’s teeth don’t align correctly when they bite down, causing discomfort when they chew or speak. In some cases, problems with the bite can lead to problems with speech or speech impediments. Bite problems can put the teeth at greater risk for decay and other problems, such as breakage.
How braces can help your teeth depends on your specific problem. If there is too much space between your teeth, the braces will put gentle pressure on them, so they become closer together over time. If overcrowding is the issue, the orthodontist might use a palate expander to create more room in the mouth, if a patient is relatively young, or actually remove certain teeth, to create more space.
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. If you are dealing with discomfort because of the position of your teeth, having noticed a change in the appearance of your teeth recently, or are embarrassed about the way your teeth look when you smile, it’s a good idea to see an orthodontist.