Does the idea of breaking into a grin bring you stress? Do you avoid social situations because you don’t want to show off your teeth? Are you tired of smiling with your hand over your face? There’s a chance you might be in need of dental braces. General insecurity in the look of your smile is one of the most common reasons for braces, but there are actually other concerns you might not have considered.
While many people think that braces are intended to straighten your teeth, they actually have far more important functions. Determining whether braces are needed for medical or cosmetic purposes can greatly affect the cost and overall time frame of alignment adjustments. If you are interested in learning more about the most common reasons for braces, their function, and why they are such important medical devices, you should continue reading.
How a Crooked Smile Affects Us Mentally
Damaged or crooked teeth can seriously damage our self-image. When we look in the mirror we often immediately focus on our smiles. We look to see if there is anything in our teeth, if they look white enough, and the overall appearance of our smile. When we come away from that disappointed with what we’ve seen, it can stick with us for the rest of the day. Hating our smile does more than just lower our confidence with potential partners and friends, there are many subconscious ways we alter our behavior when we don’t like our teeth.
- We hide our smiles
- We experience social anxiety
- We avoid having photos taken
- We avoid public speaking or talking in general
- We worry about falling victim to the cruel words of bullies
- We avoid necessary dental work for fear of judgement
The last behavior, avoiding dental work, is one that is especially dangerous. Visiting the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups is essential to the overall health of the teeth. Your dentist may even discover that there are reasons beyond cosmetics and self-confidence that make aligning your teeth a top priority.
How Misaligned Teeth Can Harm us Physically
The alignment of our teeth is vital for the functionality of our bite along with the safety of the interior of our mouths. There are a few dental issues that can cause other serious problems. Here are some of the most common reasons for braces.
1. Under Bite
When you suffer from an under bite, your lower teeth jut out further than your upper teeth. Those who suffer from under bites are at higher risk of causing bite injuries to their gums, tongue, and lips. This increased risk for oral injury can make eating and talking more difficult, which are two basic areas of existence that shouldn’t be halted by something as fixable as your own teeth.
Similar to the under bite, overbites are a misalignment of the top and bottom row of teeth. However, those with an overbite find their top row settles in front of the bottom row of teeth when smiling. Those who suffer from this condition find that gum injuries are much more common due to making contact with the misaligned teeth. This can lead to pain and degradation of the gum line.
One of the most common reasons for braces is the crowding of teeth. When teeth are crowded it means they don’t have the appropriate amount of space within the mouth to coexist with one another. This can lead to teeth painfully pushing against each other and twisting into odd directions and formation. Correcting this issue can help prevent the spread of cavities and remove the pressure and pain that often comes with these issues.
4. Open Bite
An open bite is a condition caused by issues like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and some skeletal disorders. Those with this form of misalignment will see an apparent gap between both rows of teeth when smiling due to the teeth being skewed forward. This misalignment can make eating difficult and even result in speech issues. If you aren’t certain whether or not you have an open bite, any of your local orthodontists can lead you to the proper answer.
5. Spacing Issues
Issues with the spacing of your teeth can come from missing adult teeth, oddly sized teeth, and many other issues. Some believe this is simply a cosmetic problem, but there risks to your oral health that this problem can create. The reason this is one of the most common reasons for braces is that food particles can become lodged in the gaps between teeth and lead to cavities, gum disease, and more.
Cosmetic Versus Medical Dental Braces
The terminology “cosmetic” versus “medical” is essentially only important to insurance providers. This is because even those seeking to only cosmetically repair their smile are healing or preventing mental health issues.
Still, insurance providers will often deny coverage of braces when they consider them to be cosmetic. So, what conditions do these providers consider essential and medically necessary? Let’s take a look at a few common reasons for braces that insurance providers will cover
- Difficulty chewing
- Extreme crowding
- Misalignment of teeth caused by accident
- Misalignment that results in the biting of the mouth interior
- Irregular loss of baby teeth
- Disproportional jaw and teeth compared to face/ head
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder causing the need for adjustment
- Sleep apnea caused by tooth alignment
Depending on the issue you are having with your teeth, you will need a proper referral to have your braces considered for insurance coverage. Those with most issues can find assistance through a standard orthodontist, but others will need to see a specialist. If you think your teeth are causing issues with breathing, a visit to a sleep apnea dentist may be necessary for insurance coverage.
How to Determine if You Need Braces
Some of the most common reasons for braces are easy to see. You may hate your smile, have difficulty chewing, have tooth pain and crowding, or any number of obvious issues. However, you will still want to see an oral health specialist to have your specific needs assessed.
Reaching out to a cosmetic dentist is a great place to start. Even if your corrections require a more specialized hand, these health professionals can point you in the proper direction for the best and most affordable options to improve the look and functionality of your teeth.
Approaching Concerns With Your Child’s Teeth
It can be difficult to reason with ourselves whether our children need braces. We’d like to think that our babies are all perfect the way they come, but the truth is that sometimes braces are necessary to both boost their self esteems and also improve the comfort and functionality of their bites.
To determine whether your child needs braces, you should take them for regular visits to a pediatric dentist. This will help them establish good oral hygiene habits and offer preventative measures toward tooth decay and other issues. If your child does end up needing braces, this child specialist can point you in the appropriate direction for delicate and friendly child orthodontic services.
Alternatives to Old-School Metal Braces
There is nothing wrong with metal braces. They are lower cost, can help with all the common reasons for braces, and honestly look pretty cute! Still, if you are interested in clear braces or other nearly invisible alternatives, there are options available for you.
Lingual braces function almost identically to standard metal braces with the exception that they are attached to the back of your teeth. This makes them invisible from the front. They have the same diet and behavior restrictions as metal braces and are cost-effective. They are also great for those who worry about the square discoloration that can sometimes be seen on the front of teeth after standard braces are removed.
These braces are a good choice for those on a budget but can be frustrating due to them being frequent contact with your tongue.
Invisalign is one of the most popular metal braces alternatives. Many of the most common reasons for braces can be resolved through the use of these custom, clear set of alignment retainers. Typically these types of braces are not covered by insurance, but can often be purchased through a payment plan. If you are looking to align your teeth but fear the stigma of metal braces, Invisalign is a great option for you.
Ceramic braces are installed to the front of teeth just like traditional braces. However, they don’t use the jarring silver metal that we typically associate with braces. Instead, the entire bracketing system is created from a tooth colored ceramic that can be virtually invisible from a distance. These are very popular with adult patients who have a medical need for realignment. Ceramic systems can solve all the common reasons for braces just like their metal counterparts.
Improving Your Life Through Dental Health Care
If you are suffering from oral health issues, you likely know how damaging they can be to your everyday life. The best way to keep your mouth healthy is through preventative health care, but sometimes we need a little bit extra.
Regular cleanings are important to prevent tooth decay. However, if tooth decay has already occurred it can lead to the breakdown of the enamel of the teeth. This can cause us to need dental bonding to replace damaged enamel or even full implants to replace heavily damaged teeth. These issues can be assessed and treated by a periodontist.
Other oral health issues, like sores, tonsil irritation, sensitivity, and much more should be handled promptly. You don’t need to let your quality of life be lowered by issues that can be easily treated. Remember to make a dental checkup appointment at least once a year to keep your teeth shiny, your gums healthy, and your bite strong.
Improving The Look of Your Smile Without Braces
If you are still saving to afford braces or don’t know if you are ready to make the leap, there are other cosmetic procedures that can improve the look of your smile. From tooth whitening to shaping, there are dozens of options available to you. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular:
- Grinding jagged or chipped teeth
- Covering heavy staining with veneers
- Professional grade tooth-whitening
- Crowns to cover misshapen teeth
- Bonding to cover stains or fill cavities
- Bridges to hide missing teeth without permanent implants
How to Afford Cosmetic Dentistry
As we’ve discussed, not all necessary dental procedures are covered by insurance plans. Though we agree that any improvement to our oral and mental health should be considered medically necessary, that doesn’t change the guidelines of your dental insurance plan.
Many of the common reasons for braces aren’t even covered, let alone tooth whitening or enamel reshaping.
So, how do you afford to have the procedures completed? Here are some of the best ways to save for cosmetic dentistry.
A quick way to make money for cosmetic dental procedures is through the selling of superfluous items around your home. Old furniture, broken jewelry, out of season clothing, craft scraps, and practically everything taking up storage space can be sold to the right buyer. You can make hundreds of dollars selling off items from your home. If you don’t want to pay for a yard sale license, you can even contact your local government for city-wide yard sale dates.
Refresh Your Budget to Fit in Savings
When is the last time you adjusted your budget? You may be surprised how many monthly memberships you pay for that you were unaware of. Taking the time to adjust your budget can often lead to finding large portions of income that are free for diverting into a savings account.
Dental Discount Plans
If you don’t have time to wait for savings, you might look into dental discount plans. Many dentists across the US participate in some form of discount service where you can save up to 60% on the cost of cosmetic procedures. Companies like CareCredit are great for those needing immediate access to pricey dental health care.
Take Charge of Your Oral Health
Whether you need braces now or want to prevent the need for braces in the future, there is no time like to today to begin taking control of your oral health. Find a dentist you trust and a payment plan that works for you so you can get the healthy smile you deserve.