Do you find yourself avoiding showing your teeth when you smile because of misaligned teeth? Does you suffer from tooth or jaw pain when you chew or bite hard foods? These may be a few signs that you are in need of braces. While seeking a professional opinion to help you determine the right treatment path, it is always a good idea to empower yourself by arming yourself with the correct information.

Here are a few warning signs that you are in need of braces or Invisalign treatment, what to do, and how to get started prepping for the process.

1) Inconsistent or Excessive Gaps in Teeth:

A straightforward sign that you are in need of braces is if you have too much space in-between your teeth. Leaving large gaps in your smile can put you at risk for tooth decay, jaw misalignment, and difficulties eating. Gaps can make it easy for food to get trapped in the gaps, causing gum irrigation as well as experience on-going pain. By getting braces, they can help lessen these gaps and prevent future problems.

2) Difficulty Biting or Painful Biting:

As you are eating, you may notice that it is difficult, or even painful to bite down. This will happen primarily with hard-to-chew foods like apples or sticky candy. Some people notice that they are continually biting the side of their cheek or tongue when they eat. The misalignment of your teeth may be causing this type of disordered eating.

3) Pain or Clicking in the Jaw:

If you are experiencing clicking, creaking, or jaw pain, then it may be because of tooth misalignment. While it can be very easy to write-off the occasional jaw pain, it is essential to bring up to your dentist. You can significantly lessen jaw pain by straightening out your teeth and correcting your bite. Experiencing jaw pain can also be a symptom of a more pressing issue that needs to be addressed immediately. It is better to be on the safe side and seek the advice of a dental professional before things get out of hand or painful.

4) Crooked or Crowded Teeth:

When you have a malocclusion (crooked or crowded teeth), then you will need braces to create more space and realign your bite. An easy way to tell if you are at risk for crowding is to floss regularly. If you are having a hard time flossing between certain teeth then it is likely that you have a space issue that needs to be addressed with braces. If this is left untreated, a malocclusion can turn into an impacted tooth which may have to be pulled or lead to costly surgery.

5) Protruding Teeth:

If you have protruding teeth that stick beyond your lips, then you will need braces to put them back into alignment. Not only are protruding teeth tough on a person’s self-esteem, they can also put an individual at high-risk for a dental injury. Any teeth that aren’t protected by the lips can easily be knocked out during an accidental fall.

So I Need Braces, What Now?

If you are experiencing any of these warning signs then it is likely that you will need braces. So you may be asking yourself, “Ok, what now?” The first step is to make an appointment with your orthodontist or dentist. At your appointment they will be able to examine your teeth and your bite to see if you are a good candidate for braces.  During this appointment they will probably ask you about your chewing, and if you experience any pain in the mouth or jaw.

What If I Can’t Afford Braces?

Most dental insurance plans will cover some portion of braces, as long as your it is recommended by your licensed orthodontist. Make sure to talk to your dental insurance company ahead of time to determine if you have coverage for braces, and what any out-of-pocket expenses you may need to cover. Most dental practices have financing options to help families and individuals afford braces.

Research What Type of Braces You Need

From traditional metal to invisible braces, there are several options to choose from that can fit everyone’s needs and preferences. However, you will need to speak with your orthodontist to see if you are a candidate for specific options. Every kind of braces have their own pros and cons and may not align with your smile goals. Do some preliminary research on your own, write down any questions or concerns, and then bring it to your orthodontist’s office to discuss your options.

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