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How to Know if You Need Braces

By November 12, 2021 August 15th, 2023 No Comments
How to know if you need braces

It seems like tons of people get braces sooner or later, most of them when they are kids or teenagers. But you look at your smile and don’t see any major problems, aside from a crooked tooth here or there. So how can you know whether you need braces if you aren’t a dental expert?

In reality, braces are good for more than just smile maintenance. Today, let’s break down some major signs you should watch for that may indicate you need braces ASAP.

Your Teeth Are Crowded

For starters, you might know that you need braces big time if your teeth are crowded when you look at them in the mirror. This shouldn’t be too hard to tell; just give yourself a big smile and take a look at your teeth.

If lots of teeth on the top and/or bottom rows are crooked or misaligned, you might need braces to straighten those teeth out. It’s usually a good idea to get this taken care of sooner rather than later. If you let them continue to stay crooked, even a few initially crooked teeth could mess up the alignment of all the other teeth in the same row.

There Are Gaps and Spaces Between Teeth

By the same token, you might need braces if there are notable gaps and spaces between teeth.

When your teeth have a lot of gaps – such as when you lose a tooth or have a tooth extraction by a dentist – the teeth remaining will naturally fill in that gap. This will automatically change their alignment and give them more room to move around.

In some cases, that extra room could cause the remaining teeth to become crooked, causing the problems described above.

Braces can solve this by closing the gaps between teeth without allowing them to move too freely. By the time the gap closes, your teeth are once more cemented in position and won’t move around or become crooked without some other pressure.

Plus, gaps and spaces between teeth can be unsightly or aesthetically unattractive if they are too large. Just like how braces can make your smile better by correcting crooked teeth, they can also make your smile even more stunning by closing large gaps.

Over or Underbite

Overbites and underbites are dental conditions that mean either your teeth or your jawbone(s) are misaligned, leading either your top row of teeth to protrude far in front of your bottom teeth or vice versa.

Overbites and underbites can be caused either by crooked teeth themselves or because of problems with your jaw. In either case, braces can play a key role in correcting overbites and underbites by straightening teeth, by pulling your top or bottom jawbone into the right position, and more.

Depending on the severity of your over or underbite, braces could be needed for months or even years. You may also need to wear a retainer afterward. But it’s still worthwhile to get braces to correct overbites and underbites since:

  • They can cause your teeth to become crooked over time
  • They can ruin your smile
  • They can cause jaw pain and stress when chewing or speaking
  • And more


In other cases, you might suffer from a condition called crossbite. With a crossbite, you may have an upper tooth that crosses behind a lower and opposing tooth.

Characterized as an “abnormal bite”, crossbites should never be left untreated. Why? If left unchecked, a crossbite can cause:

  • Really high wear and tear of your teeth, leading to a higher likelihood of cavities and tooth sensitivity
  • Increased gum recession around the affected teeth
  • Asymmetric jaw growth
  • And more

On top of all that, a crossbite can ruin your smile and make it difficult to chew or speak properly. Fortunately, braces can fix crossbites by being attached to the affected teeth and pulling them into the correct positions. Braces can also prevent this treatment from affecting any teeth around the crossbitten teeth.


You might also have a condition called open bite. Like crossbite, an open bite is a type of abnormal bite; you can tell that you have it if you bite down and your teeth don’t touch. It’s regular for one or two teeth not to touch during an average bite, but if most of your teeth don’t touch or seem misaligned, this could be an indication that braces are necessary.

Why? If left alone, an open bite can cause speech problems and may make it difficult to chew your food or bite down when appropriate. On top of that, an open bite could cause jaw misalignment over time, leading to some of the jaw-related symptoms described below.

It’s Tough to Floss Between Teeth

If you follow a great oral hygiene routine – which means brushing twice per day, using an anti-plaque toothpaste that prevents bacterial buildup, and flossing at least once per day – then you probably know how easy or difficult it is to floss between individual teeth.

If it ever becomes tough to floss between your teeth, that might be a sign you need braces. Normally, it shouldn’t take much elbow grease to weave your floss in between your teeth. A little tug, and floss should slip right between the gap and allow you to clear away plaque and bacteria.

But if it takes a lot of effort to get floss between your teeth, that might mean that your teeth are pressed too closely together. Naturally, this is a problem since it prevents you from following good oral hygiene.

But beyond that, it’s a bad sign that your teeth may be pressing against one another. If you don’t get this treated, it could lead to your teeth pushing each other out of position or putting too much stress on each other. In the latter scenario, your teeth could become weakened or fractured because they’re pressing so hard against one another.

Braces can space your teeth out a little bit and relieve pressure caused by one or more other teeth, usually in the front or back of your mouth. Plus, they’ll prevent your teeth from snapping back immediately afterward, leading to long-term straightness.

You Cut Your Tongue on Your Teeth Often

No one likes to bite or cut their tongue, but it usually doesn’t happen all that often. If you find yourself cutting your tongue on your teeth or biting your tongue much more frequently than normal, it could be a sign that you need braces.

Most tooth cuts on your tongue occur when your teeth aren’t in the position your tongue expects them to be. So it moves around while you are eating food and accidentally cuts itself on the exposed corners of out-of-position teeth.

Braces, of course, can correct this by straightening teeth and pulling them into the right positions. As a bonus, straight teeth fixed by braces will also be less likely to chomp down on your tongue while you’re enjoying a tasty meal.

Speech Difficulties

Some crooked teeth and ancillary dental conditions, like overbites or underbites, may also lead to speech difficulties like slurred speech. Our speech patterns and cadences are affected by all kinds of things, but especially teeth position. You may not know it, but how your teeth are positioned affects how you say certain words!

If your teeth are out of position or overly crooked, they could cause speech difficulties and make it hard to pronounce certain words. When this happens, you might need braces to correct the issue. Since it can be tough to know whether crooked teeth are the root culprits behind speech problems, you should speak to a speech therapist or orthodontist before deciding on braces.

Clicking Jaw Noises

Your top and bottom jawbones are connected via cartilage and a small joint on either side of your head. Normally, the cartilage and joint work fluidly and allow the top and bottom bones to move up and down without impacting each other.

However, an overbite or underbite, plus severely crooked teeth, could cause these bones to click or grind against one another. If you hear your jaw click or make unsettling noises whenever you chew your food or when you first wake up, it might be a sign that you need braces to correct this jaw issue.

In some cases, clicking or jaw noises mean that the joints for your jawbones are misaligned, possibly because your top or bottom jawbones are misaligned themselves. This is a common side effect with overbites and underbites.

Jawline Fatigue or Stress

Similarly, if you feel lots of fatigue or stress in your jawline or mouth, especially when you talk or chew, it could mean that your mouth is having to work overtime to make the right shapes and move the right way. This could be because of jaw misalignment or crooked teeth.

Not Sure if You Need Braces? Talk to an Orthodontist

Although the above symptoms or conditions are oftentimes signs that braces are a good idea, you should still talk to an orthodontist before ordering this treatment. That’s because many of those symptoms can also occur due to other reasons.

For example, pain in your jaw could be caused by jaw misalignment, which might be helped by braces and other orthodontic treatments. But it could also be due to issues with the joints themselves, some kind of infection, or another issue altogether. In those cases, braces wouldn’t be any help!

Plus, braces may not be the only true and you need for any of the above dental conditions. Your orthodontist will be able to tell you whether braces can help, and if so, whether they need to be used in conjunction with other orthodontic and dental treatments.

Are Braces Worthwhile?

Generally, yes.

Braces are worn by millions of Americans each year for good reasons. Sure, they might not be the most aesthetically attractive treatments possible, but braces are always temporary. More importantly, braces provide excellent results.

Braces essentially work like this:

  • X-rays of your teeth are taken so your orthodontist can break down the root causes of your dental problems and plan out brace positions
  • Braces are attached to individual teeth and have wires connected between them
  • The wires, and potentially rubber bands called elastics, then pull continuously on the teeth. This constant pressure gradually changes their position and may also change the position of the underlying jaw bone
  • Over time, braces correct your smile and can fix all kinds of dental issues. At the end, you’ll get your braces removed and you may need to wear a retainer permanently or only at night depending on the recommendation of your orthodontist

When is the Best Time to Get Braces?

Braces are highly effective if you get them earlier rather than later. That’s why orthodontists recommend that kids are teenagers get braces to complete any orthodontic work they might need in the future.

Kids’ jawbones aren’t fully formed and are still growing. When kids get braces, their jawbones will follow the direction laid out by the braces, minimizing the work that the braces themselves have to do. This cuts down on how long kids have to wear braces and can make the process easier overall.

However, even adults can get braces and see fantastic results. It might just take a little while longer and the work might need to be a little more in-depth depending on the causes of the dental problems.

No matter what, the best time to get braces is ASAP.

How Can You Tell if Your Child Needs Braces?

While adults can usually tell for themselves that they need braces or at least need an orthodontist to take a look, it can be tough or to tell whether your child needs braces. After all, all kids lose their first set of teeth, so crowded baby teeth aren’t always something to worry about.

That said, there are some signs parents can watch out for that may indicate that their child needs braces now or may need braces in the future. These include:

  • Breathing frequently through the mouth
  • Complaining that their jaw clicks or makes other unsettling sounds
  • Thumb-sucking or using a pacifier over the age of two, and especially over the age of five. This can actually lead to the development of an overbite or other jaw-related issues since the constant suction and pressure may cause your child’s top jawbone to develop differently
  • Complaining that they bite their tongue or inside of their cheek accidentally all the time, which could indicate tooth misalignment
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth, which may indicate a problem with adult teeth or jawbones
  • Their teeth don’t come together fully even when they totally shut their mouths
  • Their teeth are visibly crooked or crowded, especially if their adult teeth have come in

Once more, you can speak to an orthodontist or dentist and have them take a detailed look at your child’s mouth to determine whether braces will be necessary.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the only way to really know if you need braces is to connect with a skilled orthodontist or dentist in your area. They’ll be able to give you a professional opinion and recommend braces to solve your oral problems, plus offer extra products and solutions for regular dental hygiene.

But braces can’t help you if you get cavities or suffer from oral decay. The only things that can help with that are high-quality oral hygiene products, like top-tier toothpaste, excellent electric toothbrushes, and more.

Luckily, Dr. Brite’s online store has everything you need to practice a stellar dental hygiene routine, like our Sonic Toothbrush. This 4-mode, waterproof, and a sonic-powered electric toothbrush can help keep your teeth clean before, during, and after you wear braces. Check out this toothbrush here or explore the rest of our online store for other dental hygiene solutions!

Ready for a confident, healthy smile?

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