So your dentist has just told you that you need to get braces. What’s next? How long will they take to put on? Will they hurt? Will you be able to eat properly? No doubt all of these questions and many more are running through your mind right now, so here is your guide to everything you need to know about getting braces:
If your dentist has suggested braces, understand that braces are designed to improve orofacial appearance. While they might sound frightening, braces improve crooked or crowded teeth, overbites and underbites, incorrect jaw position and disorders of the jaw joints. When these conditions are left untreated, the result can be tooth decay, gum disease, headaches, earaches or even problems with speech, biting and chewing.
Timing is precedent with braces, and a common period when braces are applied is between 10 and 14 years when the head and mouth are still growing. Braces are not restricted to this age group, however, and it’s not uncommon to see adults wearing braces.
Getting them on
If your back teeth are close and in tight contact, your orthodontist will place rubber bands, or spacers, in between your back teeth. This will help to make room for the metal rings that will wrap around your back molars. This can hurt for the first few days, but the pain will ease.
A week or so later, your orthodontist will put on your braces. You may feel some slight pressure and pinching and will most likely experience a horrible taste as each bracket is attached to your teeth with glue, but it doesn’t hurt at all.
Your orthodontist will then place two thin u-shaped wires into your braces before cutting the ends.
Depending on the type of braces, you may be asked to choose the colour of the bands used to keep the wire inside of your brackets.
What to expect
Your mouth is likely to feel tender for the first few days after getting your braces on. This will be the same every time your braces are tightened or the wires are changed. The feeling is a dull pain, and eating solid foods may be uncomfortable. Consider stocking the fridge with items that you can use to make smoothies, milkshakes and cooking food that is soft. Your normal eating habits will return after a few days, although some restrictions may apply.
If your braces mean the avoidance of certain foods, your orthodontist should give you a list. Items may include caramel, gummies, whole apples, carrots, nuts, popcorn and chewing gum. To ensure your braces work in their expected timeframe, it’s essential you pay attention to any items on the forbidden list.
It is recommended that you brush your teeth after every meal to release any food trapped in your braces. At the very least, brushing should be done twice daily. Without sufficient brushing, decalcification can result in little white spots appearing on your teeth.
Flossing is also recommended to ensure the gum and areas under the wires are kept clean, and should be done daily. Some dentists may also ask you to use a fluoride rinse once a day to protect the enamel on your teeth.
And don’t forget – the best thing about braces is that they won’t be permanent, but your gorgeous new smile is!