Do I Need Braces? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s easy to spot if someone has a significant oral issue, such as a dramatic underbite. Generally, these problems are corrected with braces when the person is a child or teen.
Many adults, however, suffer from less severe issues with their teeth or gums, which may not be as obviously apparent.
Sometimes the problems weren’t detected as a youth, or the dentist may have advised a ‘wait-and-see’ approach.
But as you get older, you may begin to wonder…
Do I need braces?
Do my teeth have significant alignment problems?
As you consider how your teeth may be less than perfect, you may be wondering if it’s too late or too difficult to fix your malocclusion, and you may have questions about how you can straighten your teeth without disrupting your life.
If you have concerns about your teeth, it might be time to ask yourself these 10 questions to come to a decision about what steps you should take.
Do I have difficulty chewing?
If you find that chewing food is an onerous task, it could be that your molars aren’t fitting together properly.
Located in the back of your mouth, your molars are large, flat teeth with a specific purpose. They grind your food into small bits so it can be swallowed and digested properly. In order for the molars to accomplish this task efficiently, they must be aligned with each other.
Misalignment of the molars is a symptom of several types of malocclusions, a condition in which the teeth don’t fit together as they should.
Some issues which may indicate you have a malocclusion include:
- An inability (or difficulty) breaking food down into appropriately small pieces.
- Jaw strain or soreness whilst eating.
- Your dentist or hygienist remarks that your molars seem worn.
Do I have difficulty biting hard foods?
Some malocclusions can create a different kind of eating problem: a misalignment of your front teeth. This may show up as difficulty in taking bites out of crunchy or hard foods, such as french baguettes or apples.
If you find that you have trouble eating foods like this, or you see irregular looking bite marks in your food, you might be dealing with a misalignment problem.
Do I often bite the inside of my mouth?
Everyone bites the inside of their mouth from time to time. However, if this occurs frequently, it could be another sign that you suffer from a malocclusion that’s typically the result of an overbite or underbite.
Here are some indications that you bite the inside of your mouth too frequently which may indicate that you need braces:
- Others remark that this is a frequent behaviour.
- You’re developing sores or ulcers from the regular trauma.
- You have soreness in the lining of your gums from constant scraping.
- You experience anxiety or trepidation when eating, due to fear of the pain.
Do I have a speech issue?
There are, of course, many causes of speech impediments. It can also be caused from a type of malocclusion known as an open bite. Open bites occur when there’s a gap between the upper and lower teeth even when your jaw is closed. You can check for an open bite in a mirror.
In a normal bite, the top teeth overlap the lower teeth by a small amount. If they don’t meet, there’s a good chance you have an open bite.
You can see the difference between an open and normal bite by checking these before-and-after pictures of an Invisalign patient.
Do I often need to breathe through my mouth?
If you tend to breathe through your mouth, even when you aren’t suffering from a cold or allergies, you might have a jaw misalignment. What happens is that the air passages have been partially obstructed.
Children who start breathing through their mouth often develop oral misalignment which then exacerbates the problem as they age.
If this is the issue you have, it’s likely that you need to answer a resounding yes to the question, “Do I need braces?”
Does my jaw make sounds when chewing?
Clicking or popping sounds in your jaw could be a symptom of TMD: temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition often develops from the strain of eating with an open bite.
If left untreated, your clicking or popping could turn into more serious problems, including pain in the jaw or having your jaw become temporarily locked in place.
Are my teeth crooked or crowded?
Crowded teeth sit too close together, which can cause them to impact their neighbours. In some cases, this pressure will force the teeth to turn sideways or become crooked.
While the aesthetic impact may be minor, crowded teeth can present problems in the long term. Since it’s very tight quarters between those teeth, food particles can get trapped, leading to tooth decay and gum infections.
Do I have difficulty cleaning my teeth?
Even if you don’t notice a problem with crooked teeth, difficulty cleaning between teeth is another sign of crowding.
Here are some red flags that you need braces because your teeth are too close together:
- Thin pieces of food, such as apple peel or popcorn husks, get wedged between your teeth and are difficult to remove.
- Dental floss breaks before you can move it between your teeth, or your floss snaps when you attempt to remove it.
- The force required to place the dental floss between your teeth causes your gums to bleed.
Do I frequently experience gum infections?
When your teeth are pressed together too tightly, food particles can become trapped. This leftover food may remain for long periods of time against your gum line. If you aren’t careful, this can cause sore gums or even infections.
If you find that you regularly suffer from gum infections, particularly around the area where your teeth meet your gums, it could be a sign that your malocclusion is making it difficult to clean all the food out.
Gum infections can also occur when you have the opposite problem. Gapped teeth don’t effectively protect your gums, so you may develop infections from this condition as well. In either case, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to consider correcting your bite.
Am I self-conscious about my smile?
Perhaps the only symptom you’re experiencing is the hesitation to open up and smile. That’s enough of a reason in itself!
It’s not a question of vanity or pride. A healthy, happy smile is important to your life, and it can affect your emotional state and your daily interactions with other people.
Take a moment and consider how many times you answered yes to the questions above. If many of those descriptions fit your experience, you now know the answer to the simple question…
Do I need braces?
Now that you’ve clarified the direction you need to take, the next step is to get a professional evaluation of your teeth to determine your specific issues and treatment.
The good news is that most patients have several treatment options available. Even if you answered “yes” to needing braces, you don’t have to end up with a mouthful of metal.
While braces are often a good choice for kids, more discreet options—such as Invisalign clear aligners—often fit the lifestyle and professional needs of adults much better. With Invisalign, you’ll gain:
- Clear aligners that allow others to focus on you, not on your braces.
- Aligners can be easily removed for business meals, social activities and other outings.
- Cleaning your aligners and your teeth is fast and easy, leaving you more time for your family and career.
Since over 4 million people have already used Invisalign to gently and discreetly correct their smile, there’s only one last question to ask yourself…
Can Invisalign help me?
Make an appointment at your local MiSmile Invisalign provider for a no-obligation Smile Evaluation today, and find out!