Braces or No Braces? How to Determine Whether You Need Orthodontic Care
You just returned from your bi-annual dental checkup. It started out like normal: your dentist took X-rays of your mouth, cleaned your teeth and offered you a toothbrush. But then he or she recommended that you get braces to straighten out your smile.
The idea of braces brings to mind uncomfortable wires, large bills and all the snacks you have had to cut out of your diet. Especially as an adult, you do not want a “metal mouth” to hinder your social life or career aspirations. However, a dazzling smile might be worth any temporary disadvantages.
If your dentist recommended braces for you or for your child, consider these factors before turning down that advice.
1. The long-term health effects of your bite
Did your dentist throw around fancy terms like malocclusion? No need to worry as this is not a life-threatening condition. This term simply means that you have crowded teeth or that your upper and lower teeth do not fit together quite the way they should. If your dentist recommends braces due to a bite over just a few crooked teeth, though, you should take the recommendation more seriously.
Braces could fix many conditions related to malocclusion, including:
Your upper front teeth go too far over the lower front teeth. This condition is usually genetic, but some childhood habits—like thumb sucking and prolonger use of a bottle or pacifier—could cause an overbite.
Your lower front teeth come forward farther than your upper front teeth.
Some or all your upper teeth fit into the lower teeth in the wrong place.
But what happens if you do not correct these bite problems? You or your child might experience symptoms or long-term conditions like:
Difficulty with chewing or speaking
Increased or uneven wear and tear on your teeth
Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth
Jaw pain and headaches
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
Any type of malocclusion, even just crowded teeth, can make your teeth harder to clean. Then you increase your chance of tooth decay and gum disease since plaque has more places to hide. Ask your dentist or an orthodontist how serious your bite problem is and how it may affect your life down the road.
2. Your appearance and self-esteem
First, you should consider braces if they will improve your oral health. But closely after that, you should consider braces if they will make you more confident in your appearance. A significant boost in your self-esteem is worth the higher cost of this treatment.
Your self-esteem during the treatment process matters too. Orthodontic treatment can last from one to three years. Can you make that commitment? If you are worried metal braces may affect your job prospects or keep you too uncomfortable for too long, look for other treatment options like porcelain veneers.
3. The cost of your treatment
Braces are not an essential procedure; therefore, you should consider the rest of your budget and see whether you can fit in an extra expense.
On average, traditional braces cost $5,000 to $6,000 depending on the length of your treatment. Your dental insurance plan may cover a percentage of that cost, usually for children under 18, but you may need to invest in an enhanced plan.
If you worry about paying a large chunk of money at once, look for an orthodontist who offers financing with low monthly payments and no interest. Also, be on the lookout for discounts. For example, some professionals will charge students at Canadian universities less.
4. Your child’s age/the level of responsibility your child can handle
Now, let us discuss what to do if your child needs braces. Professionals recommend that you take your child to an orthodontist by age seven. Many problems are easier to correct at a younger age, between 10 and 14 years, when your child’s mouth is still growing.
However, orthodontic treatment will be more effective if your child cares for his or her braces and teeth. Make sure your children are at an age where they can floss around the brackets, put in rubber bands and know which foods to avoid. Braces can still make a difference with teenagers if your children will be more responsible at that point.
Again, talk to your orthodontist about a long-term plan for keeping your child’s teeth and mouth healthy.
The Decision for a Straight, Shiny Smile Is Yours
Remember, a dentist will rarely require you to get braces for your health. Orthodontic care is an investment. If you put in the time, effort and money, you can better protect your teeth and know you are leaving a good impression with everyone you meet.