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How to Tell if You Need Braces

posted on 4-13-18

As you read this, approximately 4 million people in the United States are wearing orthodontic appliances. With orthodontic treatment becoming increasingly commonplace, more and more people are asking the question, “Do I Need Braces?”

It’s a question here to help answer. Truthfully, the only surefire way to know if you need braces or other orthodontic treatment is to visit an orthodontist. An orthodontist is the only specialist qualified to tell you with one-hundred percent certainty that you need braces or another form of orthodontic care, however, the following are some signs that you (or a loved one) may need orthodontic treatment.

1. Your teeth seem crowded

Crowding is one of the most common reasons to seek orthodontic care. Crowding generally happens when your mouth is too small of all of your teeth. The teeth then group together, resulting in crooked teeth. Crowding can make brushing and flossing difficult, as some areas of the teeth may be more difficult to clean

2. Your Bite is Misaligned

If your teeth do not align properly when you bite down, it can cause many oral health and appearance issues, including increased risk of trauma to the teeth, excessive wear on teeth, gum recession and imbalanced facial appearance. The main types of misaligned bite are overbite, crossbite, underbite and openbite.

  • Overbite occurs when the top jaw sticks out over the bottom jaw. This is seen when the teeth stick out much farther than the bottom teeth.
  • Crossbite occurs when the upper tooth is behind the lower tooth it’s intended to meet.
  • Underbite occurs when all of the upper front teeth are behind the lower front teeth.
  • Openbite occurs when the upper and lower front teeth do not touch.

3. You are having difficulty breathing (at night or otherwise)

Improper alignment of jaws and teeth can contribute to sleep apnea symptoms and difficulty breathing. Misaligned jaws can restrict air flow through the nose and mouth, and possibly even restrict airways.

4. You are having difficulty eating

If you are having pain while eating, or find yourself biting your tongue and cheeks frequently, it may be a sign that you have a misaligned bite or other issue with your jaw alignment.

5. You are having difficulty talking

If you have pain while talking or find your teeth rubbing your lips, cheeks, tongue or the roof of your mouth in conversation, you may have jaw alignment issues and need to see a specialist for orthodontic work.

6. Your jaws shift or make sounds

Feeling your jaws shift is a sign that they may be misaligned. Your jaws should stay in one place and be not cause any pain. Another common sign of jaw misalignment is hearing clicking or popping sounds when you move your jaw.


If you feel that you have any symptoms of misalignment in your jaw or teeth, or just feel like you may need teeth straightening services, make an appointment with your local Utah Association of Orthodontists member to determine whether you need braces or other orthodontic care. Don’t worry, you don’t need a dentist’s referral. You can make an appointment with an orthodontic specialist at any time.

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