How Do I Know If I Need Braces?

Everyone has their own unique smile. For some, natural imperfections are nothing more than a unique attribute, but for others, those imperfections may cause discomfort, a loss of function, or self-consciousness. Here at Dudley Smiles, we often hear the same question: how do I know if I need braces? The answer to this will depend on several factors, including the alignment of your teeth and jaw, and the smile that you want to achieve. Dr. Si customizes every treatment plan based on each patient’s particular case, but there are several common conditions that we see in patients and find it helpful to outline when discussing the possibility of braces treatment. This helps prospective patients understand how the oral challenges they face can be corrected with orthodontics. If your smile is struggling with any of the following issues, we encourage you to get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation to explore if braces are right for you!

Overly crowded teeth

When you have teeth that are crowded, it can be difficult to brush and floss effectively. This makes it a challenge to maintain oral hygiene and keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. Orthodontic treatment with traditional braces or clear aligner therapy like Invisalign moves teeth into better positions in small increments over time. This will eventually give you a straighter, more evenly spaced smile that is easier to keep clean, and will also lessen any painful facial tension or difficulty chewing.

Gaps between the teeth

Gaps in teeth are a common occurrence. They can happen for a variety of reasons, from genetics to sucking your thumb as a child to gum disease as you age. If your teeth have a little too much space between them, we can identify the cause and create a customized plan that will close the gaps and improve the appearance of your smile.

Missing teeth

Sometimes gaps between the teeth exist because of congenitally missing teeth that never grew in, or permanent teeth that were lost due to injury or disease. We can use braces to move the existing teeth into their proper positions, then place bonded bridges where the missing teeth would have been. This approach allows us to create the kind of plan complete, evenly-spaced smile that patients and orthodontists alike love!

Open bite

When you have an open bite, the upper and lower rows of your front teeth don’t touch and close when you smile or try to chew. Many open bites are related to extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a rounded, angular formation. Whatever the reason for an open bite occuring, it can generally be treated with a combination of braces and an orthodontic appliance known as a ‘crib’ that prevents the pressure of the tongue against the anterior teeth during swallowing, while training a correct swallowing pattern. Once this treatment is complete, you’ll enjoy an aligned bite that allows you to close your teeth and bite into your favorite foods with ease.

Dudley Smiles equiptment

Deep overbite

A deep overbite means that your lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth almost completely overlap the lower front teeth, and out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints. It can also have an impact on facial aesthetics. Treatment may require orthodontics and restorative dentistry together, or orthodontics alone, depending on the severity of the case. Correcting deep bite misalignment will improve the functionality of your teeth, make brushing and flossing easier, and dramatically improve the appearance of your smile.


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause a great deal of pain at the jaw joint, and the angled pressure of the bite can wear down some of the teeth. For children with underbites, there are quite a few treatment options, including:

  • an upper jaw expander, which can be widened nightly until treatment is complete
  • a reverse-pull face mask, which wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the back upper teeth to pull the upper jaw forward
  • traditional braces to adjust the misaligned teeth

Correcting an underbite in adults tends to require more invasive treatment, though braces will usually still be an important part of the treatment process. Other options include:

  • tooth extraction to relieve the pressure of overcrowding, and to help the jaw relax into a more natural position
  • surgery to pull the upper jaw forward and/or push the lower jaw back

Orthodontic treatment will often relieve the pain and discomfort associated with an underbite and make everything from smiling, eating, and even breathing easier for you!


An overjet happens when the top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. You’ve probably heard this particular malocclusion referred to as “buck teeth” before. Overjet is most effectively treated when diagnosed early, when we can guide a child’s tooth eruption and use growth to our advantage to correct the problem. But adults seeking treatment have nothing to fear –  orthodontic treatment can improve an overjet at any age! Your age and unique orthodontic needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but the options will usually include bite correction devices, braces, removable orthodontic appliances, tooth removal, or even surgery. Whatever your age, once treatment is complete, you’ll be left with a beautiful, balanced smile.

Dudley Smiles staff working with a patient

Find out if braces could benefit your smile with Dudley Smiles

Just like there’s no cookie-cutter answer to the question “how do I know if I need braces?” there’s no cookie-cutter approach to orthodontic treatment. At Dudley Smiles, we take pride in providing individualized care for every patient we see. No matter what orthodontic issue you’re dealing with, our talented team has what it takes to correct it, giving you a beautifully aligned and fully functional smile that will last a lifetime. If you’re in Issaquah, Kent, or the surrounding communities, and would like to know more about what orthodontics has to offer you and your smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation. Whatever your best treatment option may be, we’ll provide you with the best orthodontic experience possible!

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