Braces and aligners aren’t just for fixing crooked teeth and achieving a beautiful smile. Today, more than 4 million Americans wear braces, as estimated by the American Association of Orthodontists. There are numerous reasons for orthodontic treatment, some of which you may not have been aware.
It’s recommended that children begin visiting an orthodontist by the age of seven for a general check-up and consultation. While seven may seem young for braces, options like Invisalign clear aligners can be used to correct crooked teeth as young as seven or eight. However, even if no corrections are needed at that age, orthodontists will be able to notice signs of potential issues that could warrant intervention in the future.
Adults in need of orthodontic treatment should consult their general dentist on a recommendation for an orthodontic consultation. This consultation allows orthodontists to get an idea of the teeth and facial structure along with what needs to be corrected. Diagnostic tools such as X-rays, 3D modeling, and photographs can help an orthodontist formulate the proper treatment plan which can then be implemented as needed.
Reasons You Might Need Braces
It’s possible that an orthodontist may utilize braces to correct specific issues. While the most commonly known issue is misaligned teeth, there are a couple of specific types of misalignment that need braces to correct.
- Class I – Spacing or Overcrowding
The ideal bite structure. However, issues like crowding or spacing can be considered to be Class I bites.
- Class II – Overbite
Commonly referred to as an overbite, this is when the upper jaw protrudes forward over the lower jaw. In this instance, the relationship between upper and lower molars remains the same.
- Class III – Underbite
Commonly referred to as an underbite, this is when the lower jaw protrudes forward, and the lower first molar is positioned closer to the front than usual.
For those with Class I bite structures, overcrowding can be caused by a dental arch that is too small for adult teeth, thus requiring treatment to correct. Additionally, spacing can occur due to smaller teeth size, or larger jaw size causing the teeth to spread out and create gaps.
Not Just Straight Teeth
Fixing misaligned teeth isn’t just for aesthetic purposes. Misaligned teeth can cause additional issues such as:
- Jaw pain
- Speech difficulties
- Sleep apnea
- Difficulty chewing
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
A patient experiencing any of these issues should speak to an orthodontist so that the issue can be rectified quickly and safely.
While a perfect smile can be a large deciding factor when opting to get braces, braces can do a lot more than just straighten teeth. Not only can they help you maintain better dental hygiene, but they can improve face shape, and prevent additional painful side effects. If you believe your teeth need attention, ask your general dentist for an orthodontic referral, or speak with your local orthodontist to set up a consultation. It’s never too late to start taking care of your teeth!