How Do I Know If I Need Braces

April 15, 2024

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered if your smile could be straighter or if those overlapping teeth mean you might need braces? It's a common question many people ask themselves, and it's the first step towards unlocking the door to a more beautiful, healthier, and more confident smile. 

When teeth aren't lined up just right, it's not only about how it looks; it can also lead to more serious issues with your dental health. Crowded teeth can make it tricky to keep them clean, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum problems. And if your bite is off, it could cause unnecessary wear on your teeth. 

Besides improving your appearance, orthodontic treatment including traditional braces and Invisalign Aligners helps improving your oral health, making eating more comfortable, ensuring your teeth can be easily cleaned, and increasing your confidence. A smile is your greatest social asset! 

What Are Braces

Braces are a powerful solution for those looking to transform their smiles, particularly when teeth are misaligned, crowded, or have gaps that could lead to oral health concerns. Essentially, braces are orthodontic devices that gently correct the position of your teeth over time, ensuring they align perfectly to enhance both your smile and dental health.

Braces work by applying continuous pressure to teeth, slowly moving your teeth into the correct alignment. This process not only improves the aesthetics of your smile but also addresses functional issues, making it easier to chew food and maintain oral hygiene.

Signs You May Need Braces

Recognizing the need for braces often starts with noticing subtle signs that suggest your teeth might not be as aligned as they could be. 

These signs are your body's way of hinting that something might be off with your dental health, potentially affecting not just the look of your smile but your overall well-being. That being said, here are four signs you might need braces.

1. Crowding and Spacing

Crowding and spacing are among the most common indicators that your teeth might need braces. When there's not enough space in your mouth to accommodate all your teeth comfortably, crowding occurs. This can lead to overlapping teeth, making it challenging to maintain proper oral hygiene. On the other hand, too much space results in gaps between your teeth, which can affect how your teeth function and their appearance.

These spacing issues are not just cosmetic concerns but can also lead to dental health problems over time. Crowded teeth can trap food particles and make it difficult to brush and floss effectively, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Similarly, excessive gaps might cause your teeth to shift into the empty spaces, leading to bite issues and discomfort.

Braces are a highly effective solution for correcting crowding and spacing issues, guiding your teeth into the ideal position for a balanced, functional bite and an attractive smile. 

2. Bite Issues

Bite issues are a significant indicator that your teeth might need braces. When the upper and lower teeth don't align correctly, it can result in various types of malocclusions, such as overbite, underbite, crossbite, and open bite. These conditions not only affect the appearance of your teeth, but can also affect your bite and how your teeth fit together.

Four (4) Common Bite Issues that can be corrected with Braces:

  1. An overbite, where the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth, can cause wear on the lower teeth and may lead to jaw pain.
  2.  An underbite, characterized by the lower teeth extending beyond the upper teeth, can interfere with proper chewing and speaking.
  3. Crossbite occurs when some of the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth when the mouth is closed, leading to uneven tooth wear and potentially gum disease.
  4. An open bite, where there's a noticeable gap between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed, can make biting and chewing difficult.

Braces are an effective treatment for correcting these bite issues, realigning the teeth into their proper position and ensuring a functional bite. By addressing these concerns early, braces can help prevent further complications, such as tooth damage, gum disease, and difficulties with speech and chewing, contributing to both a healthier mouth and a more aesthetically pleasing smile.

3. Difficulty in Chewing or Biting

Experiencing difficulty in chewing or biting is a clear sign that your teeth might need braces. When teeth are misaligned or improperly spaced, it can disrupt the normal function of your bite, making everyday activities like eating more challenging and less enjoyable. This discomfort can range from mild inconvenience to significant pain, impacting not only your ability to enjoy a variety of foods but also your overall quality of life.

Misaligned teeth can cause uneven force distribution during chewing, leading to excessive wear on certain teeth and potentially contributing to other dental issues, such as TMJ disorders. Additionally, an improper bite might lead to chronic jaw pain or headaches, further indicating the need for orthodontic intervention.

Braces can effectively address these issues by gradually moving your teeth into the correct alignment, restoring the natural function of your bite. This not only improves your ability to chew and bite but also contributes to a more balanced and harmonious smile. Orthodontic treatment with braces can thus play a crucial role in not only enhancing the aesthetics of your smile but also in improving your oral health and overall well-being.

4. Jaw Pain or Tooth Wear

Jaw pain or excessive tooth wear are significant indicators that your teeth might need braces. These symptoms often arise from underlying issues with bite alignment or teeth positioning, which, if not addressed, can lead to more severe oral health problems. 

Misaligned teeth can place undue stress on your jaw, leading to discomfort or pain in the jaw, known as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. This misalignment can also result in uneven wear on your teeth, making them more susceptible to damage and decay over time.

When your teeth do not fit together correctly, it not only affects your ability to chew properly but can also cause chronic jaw pain and even headaches. The excessive wear on teeth from improper alignment can lead to sensitivity, cracks, and the need for potentially costly dental repairs. Furthermore, misalignment can strain the muscles in your jaw, contributing to TMJ disorders that manifest as pain, clicking, or locking of the jaw.

Braces offer a solution by gradually realigning your teeth and correcting your bite, thereby reducing the strain on your jaw and preventing uneven tooth wear. This orthodontic treatment is crucial for not only relieving jaw pain and protecting your teeth from further wear but also for improving your overall oral health. With the help of braces, you can achieve a balanced bite that allows for more efficient chewing and a reduction in discomfort, leading to a healthier, more comfortable smile.

How to Get Started

If you're considering braces for teeth that need alignment or correction, knowing how to begin this journey is crucial. The process involves several steps, each designed to ensure that you receive the most effective and personalized treatment plan.

Consultation with an Orthodontist

The first step in addressing teeth that need braces is to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. Our Dr. Morgan Zwickel here at Sandy Smiles Orthodontics is one of the areas only Board-Certified Orthodontists. That means she was evaluated by other Board-Certified Orthodontists for her clinical and educational qualifications and met or exceeded their requirements for the prestigious Board-Certified designation. Orthodontists specialize in correcting teeth and jaw alignment issues and can provide a comprehensive evaluation of your oral health. After completing 4 years of college, 4 years of dental school, orthodontists then complete a 3-year orthodontic residency. It’s this intensive clinical experience seeing hundreds of patients, often who are difficult and extreme cases, that builds an Orthodontists specialized clinical skills.

During this initial visit, Dr. Zwickel, our orthodontist, will examine your teeth, her assistants will take X-rays, and possibly make impressions of your teeth to understand your specific needs. Because of Dr. Zwickel’s clinical expertise, other Dentists and even other Orthodontists refer their patients to her for treatment. There’s no greater compliment than one’s peers referrals. Dr. Zwickel does not take these other Doctors’ referrals and her patients’ trust in her lightly. She is committed to the finest in orthodontic care. Recently, she implemented cutting edge LightForce orthodontic technology into our Sandy Smiles Orthodontic practice. Her results are amazing! Click here to see some of her beautiful before and after smile transformations! 

Discussing Your Treatment Options

Based on the examination, Dr. Zwickel, our orthodontist will discuss the various treatment options available to you. While some large clinic type orthodontic offices have dental assistants discuss treatment options, Dr. Zwickel, does so herself. She’s the expert and plans and oversees your orthodontic treatment from start to finish. After all, it’s her name on the door! Your  conversation with Dr. Zwickel will cover the types of braces that would be most effective for your situation, whether traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, or clear aligners. Each option has its benefits, and the choice will depend on your personal preferences, the complexity of your case, and budget considerations.

Developing a Customized Treatment Plan

Once you've decided on the type of braces, our orthodontist will create a customized treatment plan tailored to your specific dental needs. This plan will outline the expected duration of treatment, any preparatory work needed, and the steps involved in the process. It will also provide an estimate of the costs involved, including information about payment plans or insurance coverage. Dr. Zwickel has two (2) treatment coordinators who will sit down with you and work out an affordable payment plan. 

Preparatory Work

In some cases, preparatory work such as tooth extractions or the placement of spacers may be necessary before the braces can be fitted. This preparatory phase ensures that there is enough space in your mouth for your teeth to move into their correct positions. 

Fitting Your Braces

The next step is the fitting of your braces, a process that is typically quick and painless. Our orthodontist will attach the braces to your teeth and make any initial adjustments. You will also receive instructions on how to care for your braces and maintain good oral hygiene throughout your treatment. One of Dr. Zwickel’s assistants will review with you at our fun brushing station the toothbrush we recommend and brushing techniques. 

Regular Check-ups and Adjustments

Throughout your treatment, you will have regular check-ups with our orthodontist to monitor progress and make adjustments to the braces as needed. These appointments are crucial for ensuring your treatment is progressing as planned.

Taking the first step towards braces is a significant decision, but it's also the beginning of a journey towards a healthier, more beautiful smile. Once orthodontic treatment is completed, Dr. Zwickel then evaluates your new straight teeth for how we can make it even more beautiful. Unlike most orthodontists, Dr. Zwickel prides herself on further aesthetic treatment, such as teeth whitening, lip injections to even out asymmetry of the lips and/or to create proper proportionality between the upper and lower lips, and Botox® to relax a “gummy” smile. 

Braces Treatment In Fort Walton Beach and DeFuniak Springs, FL

At Sandy Smiles Orthodontics, we take pride in offering the best braces treatment in two (2) locations Fort Walton Beach and DeFuniak Springs, FL. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized orthodontic solutions to meet the unique needs of each patient. 

Whether you're considering traditional braces for their durability and effectiveness, the innovative Light Force braces customized for a perfect fit, or the aesthetic appeal of ceramic (clear) braces, we have the right option to transform your smile. Don't let misaligned teeth or bite issues hold you back any longer. 


Schedule your smile assessment with Sandy Smiles Orthodontics today and take the first step towards the confident, radiant smile you deserve.


Get in Touch!

(850) 244-3880

Fort Walton Beach, FL
824 Eglin Parkway NE

(850) 244-3880

DeFuniak Springs, FL
746 Baldwin Ave.

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