Braces seem clear cut enough - you have a dental irregularity you want to fix, you visit an orthodontist, and they bond braces to your teeth. However, there are so many steps before, after, and in between that many patients are not familiar with, and find themselves confused about.
We got a general idea of what our patients are typically wanting to know about their treatment plan, and found it easiest to put it all into one comprehensive guide that our patients can refer to if they’re feeling lost or stressed out. Here are the most common questions we’ve gotten from our patients about their treatment - we hope this can be of help to you in your own orthodontic journey!
- Do Braces Hurt?
Television has done a great job of portraying braces to be painful, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth - when having braces bonded and when wearing them full time, you shouldn’t feel any pain.
Braces will be a little uncomfortable at first as your mouth adjusts to the new pressure and your teeth preparing to shift positions, but it’ll only be slight. This discomfort mostly occurs in the first few days of having braces while your mouth is going through that mandatory adjustment period.
The good news is that the discomfort doesn’t last, and can easily be combated with ibuprofen as needed. Remember that when using any over the counter medications, it’s important to follow the label and only use as instructed.
In short, the answer is no, braces will not hurt - there’s no reason to be scared of them! In fact, those first few days of discomfort will allow you to snack on anything and everything sweet while your mouth adjusts. This includes ice cream, smoothies, milkshakes, and more! These items will become your best friends in order for you to have something totally painless to eat, that still has enough nutritional value to get you through the day.
- I’m An Adult - Is It Too Late For Me To Get Braces?
Many people associate having braces with the dreaded teenage years, but they actually aren’t exclusive to younger patients! Metal braces are known to work for just about anyone, and can handle a wide range of dental irregularities that impact people of any age.
Braces will always require a consultation to ensure the patient is a candidate and they are willing to comply with treatment, but it’s extremely easy to qualify. Due to their versatility, many patients have found that their orthodontic case can easily be fixed with traditional metal braces.
In fact, the AAO estimates that around 1 in 5 orthodontic patients is an adult! In recent years, adult braces have become much more common. Just know that just because you’re no longer a teenager, it doesn’t mean you can’t work towards getting the smile you’ve always wanted! Straight teeth are for everybody and look good on everybody.
- How Are Braces Put On My Teeth?
The entire process of having your braces bonded is actually much faster than you’d expect, and completely painless. You’d be surprised to find out that the entire appointment may even take less than an hour to complete, and you can often have your braces put on right after your consultation.
Before they begin, your orthodontist will first clean and polish your teeth to prep them for the braces. They will then apply a solution to the surface of your teeth that will help prepare them for the adhesive, which will help to hold your braces in place. Once they’ve done this, the bonding glue and braces can be attached. The last step, which is only necessary in some orthodontic cases, will be the elastics.
This is only necessary in the event you aren’t wearing self-ligating braces. See how easy that is? There’s not even any freezing required. You could very well be in and out of that chair in less than one hour, and already in hot pursuit of your dream smile!
At the end of this process, your orthodontist may have a discussion with you regarding how to properly clean, care for, and protect your braces. Cleaning techniques and preventative measures are very important to ensure that you’re preserving your braces to avoid any emergency appointments, and so your oral health is protected throughout treatment.
- How Long Do I Have To Wear Braces For?
Unfortunately, this is one of those things we just can’t give you a solid answer on. Treatment lengths vary for all patients, based on a variety of external factors that can sometimes be out of your orthodontists’ control. Patient compliance has a lot to do with the outcome of treatment, and how long treatment takes - if you follow all the instructions given by your orthodontist and are extremely careful, treatment will likely be a breeze! If you have some hang ups, this has the potential to extend your treatment time.
Most patients wear braces for anywhere from twelve months to three years, but once again, it varies from patient to patient. It’s also dependent on what dental irregularities you’re trying to fix; severe crowding or a deeply misaligned bite will require more time and work than moving a few crooked teeth back into place.
A good rule of thumb is to expect to be in braces for as long as it takes to correct your bite. If you just go with the flow and refrain from focusing too much on the timeline, they’ll be off before you know it!
- Do I Still Need to See My Dentist?
Hygiene appointments will never lose their importance, no matter the setting or orthodontic treatment you’re currently going through.
You may even need to become more of a regular at your dentist’s office when you’re wearing your braces! Braces can be tricky to clean, and your dentist will ensure that any plaque or tartar that may have built up has been eradicated. The toothbrush and floss that you have at home likely won’t do the trick - your dentist is the only person that has the correct tools and ability to remove hardened tartar, and restore your oral health.
These hygiene appointments can also serve as a checkup. Your dentist will be able to detect anything that may be a little off about your braces and ensure that you aren’t running into any problems or complications with your treatment. This can also serve as an opportunity for a question period for you! If you’ve had anything weighing on your mind about your oral hygiene or cleaning tips to best care for your braces, they’ll be able to guide you.
Aside from just hygiene appointments, you’ll also be meeting periodically with your orthodontist so they can take a good, thorough look at your braces and make sure everything is running smoothly. It’s good to have multiple pairs of eyes monitoring your treatment to make sure everything is on track and where it needs to be!
You’ll also be periodically having your braces adjusted as your treatment timeline calls for it. This is necessary to ensure you’re slowly but surely getting your new smile and your treatment is commencing at the proper pace. These appointments with your orthodontist are extremely important, so it’s crucial that you don’t skip them!
- How Often Should I Clean My Teeth With Braces?
Developing a good, consistent hygiene routine during your treatment is key for a successful outcome! There’s absolutely no better feeling than having your braces removed and seeing perfectly white, immaculate teeth underneath! To get there, however, you need to be committed to your oral health and hygiene practices.
Ideally, you should brush your teeth thoroughly after every meal and heavier snack that you have. This will ensure that any leftover debris or food particles are immediately removed, so they don’t have the opportunity to become stuck and jeopardize your oral health. Food that gets trapped in between your teeth or brackets for too long can begin to develop harmful bacteria that could jeopardize the state of your oral health, along with your treatment.
Flossing is a crucial part of this routine that must be integrated, as well. Your toothbrush does a good job of removing leftover particles, but it can’t do everything; floss is a good tool to get anything and everything you missed, and leave your mouth looking and feeling completely fresh!
Have any other questions for us that we didn’t quite answer in the blog? We’re always just a phone call away!