Five signs you need to visit the orthodontist

5 SignsThe main goal of braces and other orthodontic treatment is to make the teeth and jaws as healthy as possible so they can function optimally for the patient’s lifetime. How can you tell if your teeth and jaws are healthy and functioning properly?  Here are five signs that you need to visit the orthodontist.

1. Teeth don’t fit together correctly.  This can happen in several different ways.  With an overbite, the upper teeth go beyond the lower teeth; this can make chewing difficult and may result in the lower teeth hitting the roof of the mouth.  When the upper and lower teeth don’t meet, it’s known as an openbite.  It can cause a variety of problems, including making chewing difficult.  A crossbite is the opposite of an overbite; it’s when the lower teeth go beyond the upper teeth.  Each of these conditions can cause problems for the person who is dealing with them.

2. Teeth are very crowded.  In some cases, the jaw is simply too small for the teeth; when this happens, the teeth may crowd together and even grow in at angles to each other.  This may also occur when grown-up teeth begin to come in before baby teeth have fallen out.  When teeth are very crowded, it can be very challenging to clean them properly.  Even when the person is very diligent about brushing and flossing, it may be impossible to reach the surfaces of teeth that are blocked by other teeth.

3. Teeth are very far apart.  When teeth are widely spaced, chewing food can be difficult.  Food particles may get caught in the spaces; this could result in choking hazards, especially for patients who have problems with swallowing.  Large spaces can also make people feel very self-conscious.  Depending on where the spaces are, they may also result in speech problems.

4. Discomfort in the jaw.  When we think about oral health, we often focus on the teeth, but the jaw is very important, too.  If your jaw is stiff, uncomfortable, or painful, there may be an orthodontic solution.

5. Something just seems wrong.  Whether it’s for yourself or your child, if you have a problem or concern, have it checked out.  It may be something that family members or even other health care professionals have assured you is fine, but you have doubts.  Some problems can be invisible to a casual observer.  For example, if you’re concerned about the fact that your child’s teeth are growing in a way that doesn’t seem right to you, trust your instincts.  We’ll do an exam and give you some answers.

Please keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive.  There are a variety of reasons to visit the orthodontist, but these are among the most common.  It’s also important to remember that it’s never too late.  A healthy mouth is a worthwhile goal at every age.  We’d love to work with you to help you achieve that goal.  Please contact us with any questions.