An orthodontist examines a patient's mouth during an appointment.

Early Smiles, Lifelong Confidence: 8 Reasons to See an Orthodontist

An annual or biannual dentist appointment is common for most people in the United States. The role of a general dentist is to clean your teeth, check for damage, and diagnose potentially troublesome health conditions. If a dentist notices jaw or bite irregularities, they might suggest that you visit an orthodontist.

An orthodontist is a dentist who offers specialist care. They are trained in implementing fixed and removable dental devices that can help individuals with a variety of conditions. This article will offer 8 reasons to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist today.

How Can Orthodontists Help?

Orthodontists can assist both children and adults with various issues. Some include:

  • Bite problems (underbite, overbite, open bite, or crossbite)
  • Crooked teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Teeth that are too far apart
  • Jaw misalignment

When left untreated, these oral irregularities can get worse over time. Such irregularities can cause pain, discomfort, speech impediments, and problems chewing.

Orthodontists are trained to implement fixed and removable dental devices like retainers, bands, and braces. These devices are mostly used for children and teenagers, but many adults also require orthodontic care. Orthodontists are required to attend college, dental school, and orthodontic school with an additional orthodontic residency.

Have you or your general dentist noticed any abnormalities? Here are 8 reasons you should contact an orthodontist.

Having Gaps Between Your Teeth

Having small gaps between your teeth is fairly normal. Some people feel self-conscious about their gaps and prefer to get them closed, though. While they might not seem like a big deal for others, gaps can also create potential health concerns. They leave a lot of room for debris and food to get stuck. This can lead to bacteria buildup, which can cause plaque, tartar, tooth decay, and even gum disease.

Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth can cause physical discomfort and undesirable cosmetic issues. In the past, braces were bulky and irritating to the mouth and tongue. Today, there are so many less cumbersome options to straighten your teeth.

Depending on your particular situation, orthodontists can implement metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, self-ligating braces, or clear aligners to adjust your crooked teeth.

Bite Issues

There are four main types of bite issues: underbite, overbite, open bite, and crossbite. Bite abnormalities, also known as malocclusion, can cause physical issues such as clenching, headaches, grinding, and speech problems. Aside from the physical symptoms, malocclusion can affect someone’s overall self-esteem and create unwanted anxiety.

An overbite can create something called “buck teeth.” This occurs when the upper teeth stick out past the lower teeth more than usual. Overbites are usually noticeable even with the mouth closed.

Moreover, an underbite can create a “bulldog look.” This occurs when the lower teeth stick out past the top teeth, comparable to a bulldog. Similarly to an overbite, an underbite is usually noticeable when a person’s mouth is closed.

A crossbite occurs when someone is born with a more narrow upper jaw. This is generally a genetic condition. This causes a combination of both an overbite and underbite, where some teeth are sticking out further than others. This occurs on both top and bottom. Without medical intervention, crossbites can worsen over time, causing arthritis, severe jaw damage, and pain.

Lastly, an open bite creates space between rows of teeth in your mouth. This space can be on the sides of your teeth or in front. 

Overcrowded Teeth

Overcrowded teeth refer to when too many teeth are in one part of the mouth. When teeth are smooshed too closely together, they can be difficult to clean. This may lead to complications like cavities, plaque buildup, gum disease, and more. In some cases, overcrowded teeth will cause an orthodontist to extract one or two teeth to create more space, allowing braces to work better.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorders directly affect the temporomandibular joint in the jaw. Essentially, this joint is the hinge that connects the temporal bones in your skull to your jaw. These disorders can make it difficult to eat, talk, and move the jaw without experiencing pain. Therefore, it would be best to see a dentist.

Teeth Grinding

Sometimes, you are unaware of teeth grinding. For many of us, teeth grinding occurs while we sleep. Sometimes, a partner will notice the sound of grinding in the middle of the night or morning. If you sleep alone and notice pressure or soreness in your mouth during the day, this may be a sign that you are grinding.

If You Notice a Facial Imbalance

Facial imbalance, or a misplaced midline, may cause strain or discomfort in the jaw. This can occur when the center of your front teeth doesn’t directly align with the center of your back teeth. This may get worse over time if left untreated.

Difficulties Sleeping

There are many reasons someone may have difficulty sleeping. However, one of the more common reasons for sleeping problems is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs due to a disruption of breathing during the night. It is considered a serious medical condition.

While there are a multitude of reasons that sleep apnea can develop, teeth and jaw misalignment could be one of them. An orthodontist may request a sleep study in order to observe what may be causing your sleep apnea.

Orthodontist vs Dentist: What is the Difference?

When it comes to an orthodontist vs dentist, there are a number of similarities and differences. 

Orthodontists must also complete dental school, so technically, they are considered specialized dentists. This allows orthodontists to carry out most or all of the same duties as a general dentist. However, an orthodontist’s main focus is to move and realign teeth, where dentists do not have the training to do so. 

The Leaders in Virginia Orthodontics: Contact Ashby Orthodontics Today

Are you a Virginia resident in the Chesapeake, Norfolk, or Virginia Beach areas? Are you looking for a trusted, community-based Virginia orthodontics team for you or your child? Ashby Orthodontics is here to serve! 

Our experienced, highly qualified team offers a wide variety of services, including braces, Invisalign, retainers, and more. At Ashby Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on creating big, vibrant smiles all across the great state of Virginia!
Are you ready to make an appointment? Contact us today!