There is a common misconception that wearing braces is for teenagers only, which is untrue. Although they work best on children, wearing braces can also be helpful to an adult who wants to improve the aesthetic appearance of his/her smile or address other underlying dental health issues, like spaced teeth.

Whether or not wearing braces could work out in your favor is an issue you may want to discuss with your dentist. The sooner you realize that you need to start wearing braces, the better because your jaws and teeth are still growing. How to know if you need braces is a question that most people ask themselves.

Continue reading this article for more information on everything you need to know about dental braces and signs that you or your child may benefit from wearing them.

What are Dental Braces?

Before we jump on the signs and indicators that you may need dental braces, you may want to understand what they are in the first place. In an ideal world, most people expect you to have perfectly aligned and matching sets of teeth. That means having misaligned, or crooked teeth can make you feel self-conscious about your smile, affecting your confidence and self-esteem.

For that reason, wearing braces becomes necessary to correct these types of dental issues. Dental braces are typically wire-based tools that an orthodontist or dentist uses to fix their patients' teeth or jaw misalignment issues. Traditionally, dental braces were painful and uncomfortable metal contraptions that would even cause injury to a wearer's mouth.

However, with the advancement of technology, nowadays, dental braces are comfortable and even less conspicuous because the brackets that your dentist will attach to each of your teeth are now smaller. Other times, your dentist or orthodontist can also attach these brackets at the back of your teeth where they're more inconspicuous.

The main goal of wearing braces is to give your misaligned teeth the pressure they need to grow to their ideal position in the mouth to prevent dental health issues down the line and improve your smile appearance. Most of these indicators that you may need braces are best noticeable during your regular appointments with a dentist.

Whether or not you may need braces is an issue you want to know sooner than later to increase your chances of achieving the best results once you begin wearing them. For that reason, it is recommendable to have a dentist in your corner for you and your family's regular dental exams and check-ups.

In case of an emerging dental health issue that may necessitate braces placement in the long run, your dentist will detect it during these routine check-ups for appropriate treatment.

Indicators That You or Your Child May Need Dental Braces

Since not everyone is a good candidate for braces, you might wonder what signs to look out for to know the time is ripe for the placement of braces on your teeth. If you're curious and anxious to know whether or not you should start wearing braces, you are not alone. It is a common question that many adults ask themselves at some point in their life or perhaps might be wondering about for the sake of their children's oral health.

There are many reasons why children and adults wear braces. Below are some of the general reasons or indicators that you or your child might be a good candidate for braces:

Early or Late Loss of Baby (Primary) Teeth

The order in which your child's teeth should fall out is more important than the age at which it should occur in most children. Early or late loss of your child's baby teeth is a sign that he/she may need braces to avoid future orthodontic problems later in life.

Typically, most children lose their baby teeth between five (5) to twelve (12) years. If your child loses his/her baby teeth before he/she is five years old, you should consult a pediatric dentist because he/she might be at risk of orthodontic problems like crowding.

Similarly, the late loss of his/her baby teeth is also an issue to worry about because it can make his/her permanent teeth crooked as they erupt to the surface. The cause of these orthodontic problems after an irregular loss of baby teeth is the lack of adequate space in the jaw to accommodate the erupting permanent teeth.

Baby teeth must grow and fall out while preserving space for erupting permanent teeth. If your child loses his/her baby teeth too early or too late, wearing braces could work out in his/her favor to create space for the emerging permanent teeth.

Mouth Breathing

Although mouth breathing is normal, it is only necessary if you have nasal congestion due to a cold or perhaps an allergy. Also, if you're exercising, using the mouth to breathe is unavoidable because your muscles need more oxygen. Breathing through the mouth becomes abnormal when you do it all the time, even when you are asleep.

In children, using the mouth to breathe can cause facial deformities and crooked teeth. In adults, mouth breathing can put you at risk of gum disease or bad breath because your mouth is often dry. If you or your child has any of the following symptoms of mouth breathing, wearing braces can prevent unwanted dental/oral health issues down the line.

  • Dry mouth, especially in the morning after waking up
  • Bad breath or halitosis
  • Dark circles beneath the eyes
  • Hoarseness
  • Cracked lips

Crooked or Crowded Teeth

One of the most common reasons that most people wear braces is the issue of crowded or crooked teeth, also known as malocclusions. Warning signs to look out for to know if you have crooked or crowded teeth include:

  • Teeth that are typically sitting sideways
  • Teeth that are overlapping
  • Teeth that protrude significantly farther than their surrounding adjacent teeth

There are several reasons why people experience tooth crowding. Apart from the irregular loss of baby teeth, as explained above, another cause of crowded or crooked teeth is small jaw bone. If your jawbone is too small to accommodate all your teeth in the mouth, some teeth may shift to the side, causing crowding.

When left untreated, crooked or crowded teeth can become severe over time. Also, this dental issue makes it challenging to clean your teeth effectively. Because of this, you become at risk of tooth decay or caries due to plaque build-up on your teeth' surface.

Luckily, wearing braces can correct and realign crooked or crowded teeth to keep these kinds of dental issues at bay and improve your smile appearance. Ensure you speak to a dentist as soon as you can when you notice this indicator that you or your son may need braces.

Excessive Teeth Spacing or Gaping

Typically, having excessive teeth spacing or gapping is the opposite of teeth crowding. Some people, including celebrities and athletes, can flawlessly pull off spaces or gaps in their teeth any day, but you don't have to do so if they make you self-conscious. Excessive teeth spacing could be due to any of the following:

  • Genetics
  • Mouth tissue formation
  • Vigorous thumb sucking at a younger age
  • Loss of a teeth
  • Large jaw

Apart from making it difficult to chew food, excessive teeth spacing also leaves the gum tissues between your teeth exposed, putting you at risk of periodontal diseases. To fix the issue of unwanted teeth spaces or gaps and improve the aesthetics of your smile appearance, you need to start wearing braces as soon as possible.

Difficulty Biting or Chewing Food (Bite Issues)

Another reason why people wear braces is to correct or fix their bite. When we talk about "bite," we refer to the relationship between your lower and upper teeth when your mouth is at rest. If you notice that you or your child is experiencing difficulty chewing food, it could be due to a possible bite issue, for example:

  1. An overbite — You have an overbite if your top front teeth overlap the lower front teeth when your mouth is at rest or closed. Although most people have a slight overbite, it becomes abnormal when the top teeth overlap the lower teeth to the extent that you cannot see the lower front teeth.
  2. An underbite — An underbite is typically the opposite of an overbite, and it occurs when your lower front teeth overlap the upper front teeth. Having a disproportionate jaw size is one of the main causes of this dental issue
  3. An open bite — As the name suggests, an open bite occurs if your lower and top teeth don't touch each other when you bite down
  4. A crossbite — If you or your child's upper and bottom teeth do not match up when his/her mouth is at rest, he/she might have a crossbite

Bite issues or abnormal bites do not only affect your smile appearance and ability to chew food but can also cause oral health problems if they remain untreated, for example:

  • Extreme teeth wear
  • Gum recession
  • Bone damage
  • Asymmetric jaw growth
  • Imbalanced facial appearance
  • Injury to the soft tissues of your mouth, including the tongue

Fortunately, wearing braces is an excellent remedy to fix all these bite issues. Ensure you speak to an experienced dentist if you or your child is experiencing trouble biting or chewing food.

Chronic Jaw Pain

Sometimes we might not be able to see everything that is going in our mouth, meaning there are several orthodontic problems we cannot catch with our naked eyes. Instead, we are often left with discomfort in our jaws and mouths without knowing the root cause of the issue.

If you or your child is battling chronic or regular jaw pain or facial pain, the root cause of this issue could be:

  • Teeth misalignment issues — It is not uncommon for people with misaligned or crowded teeth to experience jaw pain. If your jaws are not matching "properly" when your mouth is at rest, they can slip out of place while you are asleep, causing tension or pain around the facial area.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders — Typically, TMJ is the hinge or joint connecting your lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. The TMJ helps you move your jaw from side to side, up and down to enable you to chew food and yawn. If you regularly experience pain in your facial area (around the ears), especially when chewing or yawning, you might have a TMJ disorder.

To determine the root cause of this chronic facial pain, you may need the services of a dentist or an orthodontist. A dentist can use modern technology like CT scans or X-rays to determine whether what you cannot see with your naked eyes is something to worry about or not.

Wearing braces or placement of braces is one of the remedies your dentist may recommend to fix this bothersome situation.

Speech Difficulties

When it comes to speech and the ability to pronounce words correctly, you need your teeth as you need your tongue and lips. If you or your child are experiencing speech difficulties, there are chances that he/she might have an orthodontic issue like teeth misalignment.

Overlapping, crooked, or crowded teeth can change how your tongue rests in your mouth because they allow excess air to penetrate in between your teeth, leading to a whistle when talking. Teeth misalignment issues do not disappear on their own.

To improve your speech and ability to pronounce every word correctly, you must fix the root cause of the problem, which is teeth misalignment. Fortunately, you can correct your teeth misalignment issues by wearing braces for a few years, as recommended by your dentist.

Habitual Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a common habit with children and another sign that your child might need dental braces to prevent possible orthodontic issues down the road. If your child is still sucking his/her thumb past the age of four years, you should be concerned about this habit because it is one of the leading causes of teeth misalignment among many people.

To prevent any possible orthodontic issues in the future, your dentist will recommend the placement of braces. Wearing braces will apply the necessary pressure on your child's teeth to make them grow into their ideal position in the mouth. If your dentist has significant experience with children, he/she will know how to convince your son to stop sucking his thumb in a “nice” way.

Jaws that Click or Make Sound

Improper jaw position can make your jaws shift to the side and produce sounds. The root cause of this issue is mainly due to development problems with your teeth and jawline. Even if this issue does not cause any discomfort, it is advisable to discuss the matter with a dentist for an appropriate remedy.

To fix the issue of clicking jaws, your dentist will recommend that you start wearing braces to correct the jawline and teeth alignment issues.

You Are Unhappy With Your Smile

Lastly, if you are unhappy with your current smile, you should consider visiting a dentist for a smile makeover. Readjusting your teeth alignment is one of the ways you can improve your smile appearance. To do that, your dentist will recommend that you begin wearing braces as soon as possible.

If you notice that you often hide your mouth every time you smile, wearing braces is a reliable way to improve your smile appearance and confidence to speak or laugh with friends. Not only do they beautify your teeth, but they also readjust them to grow with proper and matching alignment, necessary for a charming smile that you deserve.

Typically, the above-explained points will give you an idea of when you or your child should visit a dentist to place or fix dental braces on your teeth. How long you have to keep the braces on will depend on the severity of your underlying dental or jaw condition.

Guiding Tips on How to Find a Credible and Dependable Dentist to Fix Your Braces

Once you notice that you may need to start wearing braces, you should begin your hunt for a reliable dentist as soon as possible if you don't have one already. Below are guiding tips that can make this process less overwhelming for you:

  • Consider the reputation of your prospective dentist
  • Consider whether or not your prospective dentist has proper licensing
  • Consider the experience of your prospective dentist
  • Consider the variety of services your prospective dentist can provide
  • Consider the qualification and specialty of your prospective dentist
  • Consider the personality of your prospective dentist
  • Consider your prospective dentist's cost of services
  • Consider whether or not your prospective dentist is available for emergency services (24-hour services)

Don't hesitate to contact a dependable attorney within your area of residence if you think you might be an excellent candidate for braces.

Find a Hawthorne Dentist Near Me

At Ganji Dental, we treat our patients like family, and we do whatever is necessary to give them the healthy and appealing smile they deserve. Call us at 310-643-8045 wherever you are in Hawthorne, California, if you are unsure of whether or not to start wearing braces.

Our team of experienced dentists will keenly examine and evaluate your general dental and oral health condition to determine if wearing braces is the best remedy for your unique situation, if any.