Straight and healthy teeth aren’t only significant for someone interested in having a beautiful smile. They play a crucial role in determining our overall health. Crooked, misaligned, and overcrowded teeth can make it difficult to brush and floss properly. They cause excessive and uneven wear on our teeth, gums, and jaw. They can lead to complications like tooth decay, gum disease, and other serious dental issues. That’s where an orthodontist comes into play.
What Is An Orthodontist?
Orthodontics is a specialization within dentistry that focuses on diagnosing and treating asymmetric teeth and jaws. Using braces, retainers, or aligners, orthodontists straighten your teeth and deal with problems of overbite/underbite and overlapping/crooked teeth. They differ from a regular dentist in that instead of being concerned with the general health of your teeth, nerves, gums, and jaws, they will focus on fixing your bite and straightening your teeth. When you need a filling to fix a cavity, you will go to the dentist; when you need braces to straighten your teeth, you will visit an orthodontist.
Oral care is an essential component of an individual’s health and many people in the US are becoming aware of it. Many states like California are recognizing it as part of an individual’s fundamental right to access healthcare. Hence, they are coming up with initiatives to address this need.
The increasing concern for oral health can be recognized by the fact that in California, more than 64% of people aged 18+ visited a dentist in 2020. If you live in this state, look up orthodontics California to find treatments like wire braces, clear aligners, lingual braces, and ceramic braces according to your budget and needs.
Anyone experiencing the following five symptoms must schedule a consultation with an orthodontist.
The impact of crowded teeth is not just cosmetic. Left untreated, it can cause complications like gum decay, speech impediments, difficulty eating, and even jaw dysfunction. Dental crowding occurs when there is a lack of space for the teeth to grow due to factors like having a small jaw or large teeth. The signs to identify it include overlapping of teeth, where they are crooked, or where it seems they are growing from an unnatural position. Further, if you are experiencing jaw pain or have difficulty eating or cleaning your teeth, this may be due to crowded teeth.
Thankfully, many of the crucial signifiers of crowded teeth are clearly visible. An at-home examination of your teeth in front of the mirror versus a model of teeth you can find on a search engine will help reveal whether a consultation with an orthodontist is necessary.
Orthodontics is heavily concerned with an individual’s bite, which is how their upper and lower teeth interact. A bad ‘bite’ is a malocclusion i.e. when the upper and lower teeth don’t align properly. It can be an overbite (when the upper teeth stick out beyond the lower ones), an underbite (lower teeth stick out beyond the upper ones), a crossbite (where your upper teeth fit within the lower ones), or an open bite (where the upper and lower teeth don’t touch). These bite issues cause uneven and excessive wear on teeth that can make them loose. It can lead to increased tooth decay which can cause extreme pain and bacterial infections like an abscess.
Bite problems also lead to the overuse of muscles in the jaw that can cause complications with speaking, eating, and cleaning your teeth. Signs that you may have a biting problem include experiencing discomfort while chewing, a particular side of your mouth is more sensitive, some of your teeth touching down before the others do, and difficulty while enunciating words.
Most humans breathe through their noses, but some rely more on their mouths for this function. This condition is called mouth breathing. Alongside causing sleep disorders, mouth breathing can also affect the shape of your jaw and cause malocclusions. Signs that you may be a mouth breather include having a dry mouth after sleep and drooling on pillows.
If a consultation with a doctor reveals that you are a mouth breather, it is crucial that you also book a visit with the orthodontist. There is a well-researched link between teeth alignment issues and mouth breathing. While many of the causes of mouth breathing have to do with the structure of your nose and face or some underlying health complication that requires professional care, there are steps you can take at home to prevent it. It includes practicing breathing with your mouth closed, having an active lifestyle, and keeping a clean nose.
Everyone experiences the occasional jaw pain, from clenching their teeth too hard to grinding them in their sleep. While a once-in-the-moon problem like this may only require painkillers, if it persists, spreads, or seems impossible to cope with, it may indicate an underlying problem. Ignoring persistent jaw pain may cause complications like jaw dysfunction (TMJ) that prevents the mouth from fully opening and causes difficulties in speaking, eating, and cleaning the mouth. It also causes severe pain like headaches, earaches, and facial pain.
Often the underlying cause of jaw pain is crooked and misaligned teeth which create excess strain and damage to the jaw muscles. Neither ignore persistent jaw pain nor treat it superficially with pain medication. Consult an orthodontist to understand the reason behind the pain and find a permanent remedy.
Self-Consciousness About Your Smile
Research has shown that confidence in one’s appearance is the most significant factor for building self-esteem. If you feel conscious about the shape of your teeth and how you look when you smile, it can be a debilitating fact that prevents you from being confident. It hampers your ability to network with others. There’s nothing shallow about being worried about how you are perceived and wanting to make cosmetic changes that make you feel more attractive and enhance your confidence, such as opting for teeth whitening procedures that can help brighten your smile and boost your self-esteem.
Any person is concerned about how their smile looks should visit an orthodontist. Through the use of devices like braces, they can not only straighten your teeth but also help reposition your jaw such that it becomes more symmetrical.
Orthodontists, unlike general dentists, spend years specializing in diagnosing and treating the misalignment of teeth. They offer professional expertise and experience not found in general practice.
Their specialized skills will help identify the underlying dental issue, find a course of treatment that is painless and efficient, and offer a detailed prognosis of what the patient may expect throughout the treatment and in the years to come. The signs you should consult them include crowded teeth, biting problems, mouth breathing, jaw pain, and self-consciousness about your smile.