Dental issues and other oral health complications are more than painful. These problems often have multiple causes (that worsen each symptom) and far reaching consequences. From a lack of confidence to persistent cavities and speech impediments, oral health affects every area of life.
But it’s not always clear when you should fix underlying problems. And you may not know exactly what options are available to correct your problems. In many cases, patients often end up wondering:
- When is it time to look for treatment?
- Is there a way to determine the severity of oral health issues?
- How can braces or other standard orthodontic treatments correct the issues?
Our team has compiled a simple, straightforward list of the 4 most common oral health complications, and explanations of exactly how braces can help. With a better understanding of these complications, we hope you’ll feel confident taking the next step toward optimal oral health and a more comfortable, confident smile.
What is it?
Known medically as “malocclusion,” misalignment describes any situation where teeth don’t properly line up when your mouth is closed. When teeth are properly aligned, the upper and lower won’t meet in the right way when your jaw is closed. Functionally, this means that gaps form or teeth collide before they should. This prevents your jaw from fully or properly closing.
Malocclusion has many causes, from excessive thumb sucking to jaw injuries or arch malformation. In most cases, an existing issue with the jaw or placement of adult teeth are the root problem. The common ways of referring to malocclusion are overbite, underbite, and crossbite.
Some of the symptoms most frequently experienced from malocclusion (of all types) include:
- Jaw soreness and pain
- Excessive wear on teeth
- Inability to properly chew food
- Impeded speech
Left untreated, the symptoms of misalignment will likely make the condition worse. It can also lead to periodontal disease and other more serious complications.
How braces help
Misalignment is one of the most common reasons that patients seek treatment with braces. It’s also one of the complications that can experience dramatic improvement when treatment is done right. During treatment, braces will gently realign teeth to their proper position for a complete, healthy closure. Despite serious issues, patients can often see total realignment of their bite, which supports proper chewing, eliminates jaw pain, and prevents unnecessary wear and tear on overused or stressed teeth. Depending on the severity of your case, malocclusion can be fixed in as little as 12 months.
Crowding & Gaps
What is it?
Crowding and gaps between teeth are one of the most noticeable orthodontics issues. Large teeth, early loss of baby teeth, small jaw structure and many other genetic factors play a role in causing teeth to crowd. Once teeth begin to crowd, they won’t slow down. Issues will only get worse over time. Gaps are caused by some of the same genetic factors (e.g., odd tooth sizes or large jaws), or they can be due to a space left when one tooth crowds the opposite direction. Patients typically can’t control these issues or fix them on their own.
The effects of crowding and gaps are sometimes limited to cosmetic or aesthetic concerns, which can hurt self-confidence and self-esteem. In more serious cases, crowding and gaps can result in worse symptoms, including:
- Wear and tear on teeth that rub or collide too frequently and with excessive impact
- Poor speech, chronically bad breath caused by trapped food particles
- Inordinately high occurrences of cavities
- Persistent discomfort
- Headaches and jaw pain
How braces help
Crowding and gaps are one of the most prevalent reasons that patients start treatment with braces. Braces anchor on the molars and apply consistent pressure to reorient and realign teeth. As treatment progresses, patients will notice gaps closing and teeth moving into the right position. Once treatment ends, a permanent retainer can help keep teeth in the right position for decades to come.
What is it?
Even when teeth are in relatively healthy alignment and patients practice good oral care, they can still form at odd angles. This happens when the top or bottom teeth are angled inward or outward too severely. As the angles of teeth change, they lose their effectiveness and the negative impacts only worsen. Patients can also exacerbate protrusion with bad habits like pushing their tongue too far forward, grinding their teeth, and unhealthy gums. Protrusion could also indicate something worse, like a cyst or swelling under the gum line. These cases merit immediate medical attention.
Protrusion produces many of the same impacts mentioned above, but with an increased risk of injury or damage to teeth and jaws. If teeth are already pushing against each other when a patient suffers an injury to their mouth, the effects can be far worse than when teeth are properly aligned (which more evenly distributes the force of an impact). Protrusion is also a frequent contributor to speech impediments because children (and adults) are unable to form the right sounds and correct pronunciation. Lastly, protrusion can cause trouble with breathing (particularly at night) by impeding airflow.
How braces help
Braces can totally correct most cases of protrusion. There are often multiple options for addressing protrusion, from basic liners in simple cases to standard bracket braces in moderate to severe situations. Over time, braces will adjust protruding teeth back to their normal, healthy position. Metal bracket braces ensure that the right amount of pressure is applied to each individual tooth, providing the best long term result.
What are your next steps?
There are many kinds of oral health issues beyond those described above. If you or your family member are dealing with an orthodontic complication, we encourage you to take advantage of our free, no-pressure consultation. There’s no better feeling than having the right information at hand to make an informed healthcare decision.
We’re glad to schedule an appointment at our office, or you can start right now online by clicking Get Started anywhere on our website.