Properly aligned teeth, along with other aspects of oral health, give you a healthy, attractive smile, but this is not the only reason they are important. Poor tooth alignment can lead to a number of other dental problems, such as tooth loss, chipped or cracked teeth, and periodontal disease, if left unchecked.
How do you know if you or your child needs orthodontic treatment? One way is to continue getting regular dental check-ups twice a year, as recommended by the American Dental Association. A general dentist might refer you to a specialist for orthodontic treatment if he or she spots some alignment problems.
However, you could also schedule a check-up directly with an orthodontist if you suspect you need orthodontic treatment. Here are four common problems to look for that, if present, indicate you should seek professional orthodontic treatment without delay:
If your teeth are so tightly pressed up against each other that you have difficulty slipping a string of dental floss between them, you may need braces to correct the problem. Overcrowded teeth are difficult to clean, and the plaque and food particles that get trapped between them can lead to tooth decay and/or gum disease, as well as bad breath.
2. Wide Interdental Gaps
This is the opposite problem from overcrowding, but it is just as bad for your oral health and even more noticeably affects your natural smile. While it is natural to have small gaps between teeth, when those gaps grow too wide, they expose your gum tissue to plaque and bacteria, which can lead to inflamed, infected gums. One major cause of “gappy” teeth is a misalignment between your upper and lower jaws, called malocclusion. Personal habits like biting fingernails or children sucking on their thumbs can also contribute.
3. A “Bad Bite”
If teeth are protruding too far outward, they are more likely to chip, crack, or break. If your upper teeth rest either past your lower teeth or inside them when you close your mouth, or if any other condition exists besides flat, normal contact between upper and lower teeth, you have a “bad bite pattern.” This condition not only affects your teeth’s appearance but also makes it more difficult to chew food properly, which can lead to gastrointestinal tract problems.
A bad bite pattern can also affect your pronunciation, cause you to bite the inner lining of your cheeks frequently, make it easier to chip your teeth while chewing or talking, and cause pain when your teeth collide at unnatural angles.
4. TMJ Disorder
If you have frequent jaw pain when chewing, when speaking, or at other times, perhaps accompanied by severe headaches, you may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This disorder can cause or co-occur with a misaligned bite (mentioned above). Your jaw may be tense at night when you sleep, and your temporomandibular (TM) joint, which connects your jaw to your skull, may have a problem that leads to muscle and nerve pain. Orthodontic treatment is not limited to tooth misalignment—it also treats TMJ disorders, so do not hesitate to see your orthodontist if you suspect you may suffer from it.
When teeth are improperly spaced or aligned, or when there is a problem with how your upper and lower jawbones are positioned relative to each other, numerous oral health problems can result.
Contact a Professional
To learn more about orthodontic treatment, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Ajay Kapadia of Kapadia Orthodontics by calling 407-366-3300 or submitting an online contact page. We serve Oviedo, Florida, and the whole area in and just north of Orlando.