For many people, getting braces is a crucial step towards achieving a perfect smile and properly aligned teeth. The process of putting on braces may be unfamiliar to those who haven’t experienced it before, but it is a routine procedure that orthodontists perform regularly.
This article aims to provide an overview of what to expect during your appointment to get braces, so you can be well-prepared and confident when the big day arrives.
Upon arrival at your orthodontist appointment, it is essential to have clean and dry teeth to ensure the braces adhere correctly. The orthodontist may use a polishing paste to clean your teeth further, after which they will start the braces application process. The orthodontist will insert a device to keep your mouth dry and your tongue in place. Then, they will apply an etchant to prepare the tooth surface for bonding. A bonding cement, which acts as an adhesive substance, will be applied to the teeth, carefully placing the brackets (small metal or ceramic devices) onto the teeth.
The brackets hold the wires in place, and as pressure is applied over time, the teeth move in a specific direction, slowly correcting their alignment. While the process may be intimidating for some, understanding how braces are applied can help alleviate any concerns or anxiety. Remember that your orthodontist is there to support your journey towards a beautiful and healthy smile, so feel free to ask questions or express any concerns during your appointment.
- Types of Braces
- Preparing for Your Appointment
- Braces Installation Process
- Adjusting Appointments and Maintenance
- The Day Braces Come Off
Types of Braces
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are made of stainless steel bands, brackets, and wires that gently shift your teeth over time. The dentist or orthodontist bonds (glues) a bracket on each tooth, then places a thin, flexible archwire over the brackets. Tiny elastic bands called ligatures keep the wire firmly in place. These braces are visible when you smile and are the most common type used.
Ceramic braces function similarly to traditional metal braces, but they use tooth-colored ceramic brackets instead of metal ones. This makes them less noticeable on your teeth, providing a more discreet appearance. However, ceramic braces might be slightly more expensive and are more prone to staining if not properly cared for.
Lingual braces have the same components as traditional metal braces but are placed on the back side of the teeth, making them invisible when you smile. These braces are custom-made to fit the individual shape of your teeth. Due to their placement, they might be harder to clean and take longer to adjust to, but they offer a great cosmetic advantage for those who don’t want their braces to be visible.
Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, involve a series of custom-made, removable trays that gradually shift your teeth into their desired position. They are made from a clear plastic material that is virtually invisible when worn. Aligners can be removed for eating, drinking, and cleaning your teeth, providing a more comfortable and convenient option for those who prefer not to have fixed braces. However, clear aligners may not be suitable for all orthodontic cases, and they tend to be more expensive than traditional braces.
In summary, there are several types of braces available, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. It’s important to consult your orthodontist to determine the best option for your specific needs and preferences.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Before you get braces, you’ll need to have an initial consultation with your orthodontist. During this appointment, they will review your medical history and discuss your orthodontic concerns. They will also take X-rays and other imaging tools to get a comprehensive understanding of your teeth and jaw structure. Based on this information, your orthodontist will create a customized treatment plan for your braces, including an estimated timeline.
Before getting braces, it’s crucial to have your teeth professionally cleaned. This can be done at your regular dental checkup or by your orthodontist. During this process, your dentist or orthodontist will remove any plaque, stains, and tartar buildup to ensure your teeth are as clean as possible. This step is vital, as it helps the braces adhere more effectively to your teeth and reduces the risk of complications during treatment.
Once your teeth are clean, your orthodontist will perform a thorough dental examination to identify and address any underlying issues that need to be resolved before getting braces. These might include:
- Periodontal problems
- Tooth extractions
It’s essential to address these dental concerns before getting braces to ensure your treatment is as effective as possible and minimize the risk of complications. Your orthodontist may recommend additional treatments or referrals to a specialist to resolve any identified problems.
Braces Installation Process
At your initial braces appointment, your orthodontist may apply separators, which are small rubber bands placed between your teeth to create space for the molar bands. These separators will typically be in place for a week before the braces installation process begins.
After ensuring that the teeth are clean and dry, the orthodontist applies a bonding cement to hold the brackets in place. These small metal or ceramic devices are then carefully affixed to the center of each tooth. The orthodontist places a small amount of glue on each tooth and positions the brackets according to your specific treatment plan.
Once the brackets are in place, the orthodontist runs the archwires through the braces. These archwires apply pressure on the teeth, causing them to move into the desired position over time. The archwires can be made of various materials, including stainless steel, nickel-titanium, or beta-titanium.
Securing Archwires with Elastic Bands
Finally, the orthodontist secures the archwires in place using elastic bands, also known as ligature ties. These bands hold the archwires tightly to the brackets, ensuring continuous pressure is applied to the teeth. If you have self-ligating braces, there’s no need for additional bands, as the brackets have a built-in mechanism to hold the archwires in place.
After the braces installation process, you can expect to have follow-up appointments every 4-8 weeks, allowing your orthodontist to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments.
Adjusting Appointments and Maintenance
After getting your braces, you will need to attend regular adjustment appointments, usually scheduled every 4-8 weeks. During these appointments, your orthodontist will evaluate the progress of your teeth and make necessary adjustments. This may include removing and replacing the rubber bands and archwire. The process typically involves:
- Removing the rubber bands or ‘o’ ties
- Taking out the current archwire
- Inspecting your teeth to analyze their progress
- Depending on the progress, either attaching a new archwire or reusing the existing one
- Applying new rubber bands or ‘o’ ties to the brackets and the archwire
Cleaning and Caring for Braces
Taking proper care of your braces is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene and ensuring effective tooth movement. Here are some tips for keeping your braces clean and well-maintained:
- Brushing: Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. A specialized orthodontic brush can help you clean around brackets and wires effectively.
- Interdental Brushing: Use an interdental brush, also known as a proxabrush, to clean between the wires and brackets. Gently insert the brush between the wire and tooth, and gently move it back and forth to clean the area.
- Flossing: Floss daily with a floss threader or orthodontic floss to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth and under the wires.
- Mouthwash: Use a fluoride mouthwash to help rinse away food particles and protect your teeth from cavities.
In addition to cleaning, avoid hard or sticky foods that can damage your braces, and schedule regular dental check-ups to ensure your teeth remain healthy during your orthodontic treatment. Remember, proper care and maintenance will contribute to efficient and successful treatment with braces.
The Day Braces Come Off
Removing Brackets and Wires
On the day your braces come off, your orthodontist will first remove the brackets and wires from your teeth. This process may involve minor pressure but should not cause much discomfort. After removing the brackets, the orthodontist will clean off any remaining glue on your teeth.
During this time, you may feel some sensitivity in your teeth and gums. However, this sensation is typically temporary and should subside shortly after.
After the braces have been removed, it’s crucial to maintain the alignment of your teeth with the help of a retainer. Your orthodontist will fit you for a retainer, which could be either removable or permanent. Retainers are designed to keep your teeth in their new positions and prevent them from shifting back to their pre-treatment configuration.
It’s essential to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for wearing and caring for your retainer. This may involve cleaning it regularly, wearing it for a specified number of hours per day, or adjusting it if it becomes loose or uncomfortable.
By following these steps and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can enjoy your new smile and prevent any unwanted teeth movement after your braces have been removed.