For many, braces are a part of growing up, with TV and movies responsible for the notion that they are primarily for teenagers. Braces aren’t just for teens, however, with increasing numbers of adults also choosing to get them. In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of all orthodontic patients today are adults, representing a significant increase from just a few years ago.
Braces are typically thought of as a means of correcting your smile and little more, but while an attractive smile is obviously one of the reasons for getting them, the advantages of correcting misaligned teeth go beyond simple aesthetics to offer other health benefits.
If you have ever asked yourself “when should I get braces?” then you’ll want to keep reading.
When Should I Get Braces?
If you look in the mirror and see straight teeth when you brush, that’s great, but sometimes braces are not just for cosmetic reasons. They can also be used to correct other problems that are negatively impacting your oral health.
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Here are some of the signs that you may need braces:
Crowding is the result of a person having too little space in their mouth to accommodate all of their teeth, leaving them crooked and misaligned. Braces and other orthodontic treatments may be used from a young age to help address the issue, but patients may still experience crowding as an adult. As they mature, crowding typically becomes worse and can reach a point where it is difficult to floss or even brush correctly.
Because crowded teeth can be so hard to clean, there is often a buildup of plaque that can cause not only tooth decay, but also bad breath, gum disease, and even bone loss around the teeth. Braces realign the teeth, making them easier to clean and floss, leading to better oral health.
Gapping and Spacing
At the opposite end of the spectrum from crowding, gapping and spacing are exactly what they sound like—spaces between the teeth. This may result from losing or missing a tooth and while some well-known models and celebrities are notable for a prominent gap between their front teeth, many patients prefer to seek orthodontic treatment.
Colloquially known as buck teeth, an overbite is a malocclusion, or misalignment, of the teeth in which the upper front teeth overlap too far past the lower front teeth. It can vary in severity and may lead to oral health complications such as a wearing down of the teeth to pain in the jaw.
As one might guess from the name, an underbite is essentially the opposite of an overbite. In this type of malocclusion, the upper front teeth rest behind the lower front teeth. This is typically the result of a large or misaligned jaw and can result in difficulty chewing and biting, or even speaking. Underbites may also cause wear on the front teeth and makes them more prone to damage.
The main sign of a crossbite is having the upper teeth sit behind the lower teeth, similar to an underbite, but whereas an underbite affects all teeth, a crossbite only affects a group of them. The crossbite may be posterior (toward the back of the mouth) or anterior (toward the front) but both types require correction.
A crossbite may cause a variety of issues from pain in the jaw or teeth, to sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, headaches, difficulty speaking, and more.
An open bite is when you close your mouth fully, but your top and bottom teeth don’t touch. It may be caused by misaligned teeth, or a misaligned jaw, but both are treatable. It usually occurs in the front teeth, but can potentially occur anywhere in the dental arch, including the molars.
What Are the Benefits of Braces?
Each of these issues can be corrected with the use of braces, bringing the teeth into proper alignment. Braces can make it easier to brush and floss, improve your bite, help prevent dental injuries, prevent bone erosion, improve your speech, and more. They can also prove beneficial to your overall health by reducing the mouth bacteria that can find their way into other parts of the body.
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The Right Time For Braces
Although braces may be most commonly seen on teenagers, they can help both adults and younger children as well. Generally speaking, children with malocclusion should look at getting braces between the ages of 9 and 14.
Adults can seek out braces at virtually any age, even over 50. Treatment is much the same as for children, though there are some differences. Adult teeth are no longer growing, and treatment may take slightly longer. There may also be other conditions to be corrected, such as gum disease, before applying the braces.
If you have questions about braces and when to get them, contact us today and we will be happy to assist you.