Orthodontic treatment is always a little easier when you know what to expect. Many patients have questions about what getting braces entails, what the consultation is like, what happens when your braces are attached, and more. We prepared a guide for you to walk you through the entire braces process, which will hopefully set your mind a little more at ease!
- The Consultation
All orthodontic treatment will begin with an initial consultation. You can find a trusted orthodontist in your area to perform an examination, give you a diagnosis based on any dental irregularities you may have, and point you in the direction of the right treatment for you.
Your orthodontist will assess your teeth, bite, and jaw, to get a general idea of what you’re struggling with. Common orthodontic issues that often inspire patients to seek orthodontic treatment are crooked teeth, under bites or overbites, overcrowding in the mouth, and more. To get a closer look at anything underlying, your orthodontist will also take detailed photographs, x-rays and impressions of your teeth and jaws. All of this information will serve as a starting point for your orthodontist to construct a treatment plan for you, and to observe how your teeth may move and shift throughout treatment.
Once your examination has been completed, your bite problems diagnosed and all of the right information taken, your orthodontist will create your treatment plan. This plan is custom-built to fit you and your specific needs, and will outline all the goals and expectations of treatment. Your consultation is also a perfect time to ask any lingering questions you may have, and get more information and background if it’s necessary. Your orthodontist will be happy to shed light on any areas they can, and make sure you’re completely comfortable before you begin.
- When Your Braces Are Bonded
If all is well and you’re prepared to do so, treatment can even start the same day as your consultation. Your orthodontist will prep your teeth for the metal brackets by first cleaning and polishing your teeth. They’ll then ensure they’re dry enough for the adhesive to properly bond the brackets to your teeth.
After this prep work has been completed, your mouth will be completely ready for braces. One by one, your orthodontist will attach a bracket to each individual tooth. The brackets are attached to the teeth with bonding glue so they’re perfectly set in place, and once secured, wires are connected from bracket to bracket to bring the whole thing together.
No part of this process hurts, but it may be a little uncomfortable to have to lay still for so long. The entire process of having your braces bonded will take one to two hours, depending on how much hardware you need.
- The First Few Days
Many patients report experiencing soreness at the beginning of their orthodontic journey, so this is to be expected. You’ll never be in pain, and this soreness can easily be managed with over the counter ibuprofen, used as directed, until the discomfort subsides. These early days will likely be the most uncomfortable part of your treatment, so once they’re out of the way, the rest of your treatment will be much easier.
Soft foods will become your best friend at the very beginning. The early days of braces can be rough, so smoothies, mashed potatoes, milkshakes, steamed vegetables, pastas and yogurts should be your initial go-tos until your discomfort subsides. Make sure you choose foods that are soft, but still have some sort of nutritional value in order to keep you going.
In addition to being a little sore, your lips may become chapped. You also may have a few wires rubbing against your inner cheek to add to the minor discomfort. Items such as lip chap and wax can be used to alleviate some of this, until your mouth begins to adjust to your new braces.
- Maintaining Your Braces
Maintenance throughout treatment is extremely important to ensure it ends up being successful. Make sure you’re maintaining proper oral hygiene throughout treatment so your braces are kept clean and intact, and so no oral health issues can prevent your treatment from commencing as scheduled.
Brush and floss carefully around all of your brackets to prevent tooth decay and plaque build-up, along with those notorious white stains that can frame the brackets, and present themselves when your braces are removed if you aren’t careful about oral hygiene. The goal is to make sure that your smile is perfectly healthy when your braces come off, so your treatment can truly be over, and you can start showing off your smile immediately.
It’s also important to avoid hard, crunchy, and sticky foods that can get stuck in and damage your braces. It’s fairly easy to tell what’s safe and what isn’t, but your orthodontist will provide you with a list of off-limits foods for good measure. It’s important to follow this list as closely as you can, and be as conscious about your food intake as possible.
You’ll also be going back to the orthodontist on a set schedule, usually every 4-6 weeks. At these appointments your orthodontist will assess your progress, make adjustments as needed, and tighten your braces as it becomes necessary to your treatment. You’ll be able to ask questions, and be kept in the loop about how your treatment is progressing. Make sure you aren’t skipping these appointments, as they’re crucial to the success of your orthodontic treatment.