By Rafael Mercado, DDS on February 25, 2022
Crooked, gapped, or overcrowded teeth can have a significant impact on the appearance of the smile. These types of malocclusion problems can have even more concerning effects on oral health and functions. An orthodontist provides treatment to correct the position of the teeth and jaw so that individuals can bite and chew comfortably, and care for the teeth with ease.
Many people have minor concerns about tooth alignment, but aren’t sure if they really need an orthodontist. Dr. Rafael Mercado of Castle Hills Family Dental, in Castle Hills, TX, provides individuals with guidelines regarding when to see an orthodontist, so that malocclusion problems don’t lead to further dental complications.
When to Schedule an Orthodontic Checkup
Tooth alignment problems are not always visually obvious to an untrained eye. To ensure that orthodontic issues are diagnosed and addressed before further complications develop, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all individuals schedule a checkup with an orthodontic specialist no later than the age of seven.
We understand that not everyone follows this recommendation, or is even aware of it. Fortunately, it is never too late to correct malocclusion problems. If any obvious malocclusion problems are present, or any other potential signs of misalignment, people should see an orthodontist as soon as possible.
The Teeth Are Visibly Crooked or Misspaced
Many malocclusion problems have a direct effect on the appearance of the smile. Crooked teeth, overcrowded teeth, gapped teeth, or an uneven bite often leave people feeling less than confident in their smile. Even if these issues seem minor, or if only a few teeth are affected, orthodontic treatment is likely necessary.
The Teeth, Jaw, or Gums Are Sore
The teeth, gums, and jaw work together to allow people to bite, chew, swallow, and speak. When even one part of the smile is out of alignment, it can put a strain on other areas. If the teeth do not appear to be crooked, soreness may be a sign that orthodontic treatment is necessary. With diagnosis and treatment, patients can restore oral comfort and functions.
You Have Difficulty Chewing
The teeth are meant to fit together in a way that allows food to be chewed and broken down. Malocclusion problems can shift the teeth so that they don’t fit together as intended. If chewing is difficult or painful, it is a good ideal to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist to determine if orthodontic treatment is needed.
You Suffer from Bruxism and/or TMJ Disorder
When the teeth or jaw are not properly aligned, the resting position of the mouth is affected. This creates tension that can lead to bruxism, a condition that describes grinding and/or clenching the teeth. Grinding and clenching most often occurs at night, so our Castle Hills patients may not be aware of the problem until the teeth become damaged or until other complications, such as TMJ disorder, develop.
TMJ disorder affects the function of the hinge, or joint, that opens and closes the mouth. The TMJ can become swollen and stiff, leading to issues such as lockjaw, facial pain, and limited jaw movement. Bruxism and malocclusion problems are two potential causes of TMJ disorder, so it is a good idea to see an orthodontist if symptoms of TMJ disorder are present.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have any suspicion that you are suffering from malocclusion problems, it is important that you see an orthodontist as soon as possible. Orthodontic care can transform the way your smile looks, feels, and functions. To learn about the orthodontic services offered at Castle Hills Family Dental, send us a message online or call (210) 405-1257.