They’re the dental procedure that every teenager fears—braces. But modern braces have come a long way since they ruined your parents Prom photos. Instead of braces being clunky, uncomfortable, and embarrassing, today’s braces are less cumbersome and noticeable, but it can still be daunting for patients of any age if they don’t know what to expect when getting braces. Let’s take a closer look at the process.

What Is The Process For Getting Braces?

Braces are usually applied in stages. They can take a few hours to initially set up, and 12-24 months to complete treatment, before any of that, however, comes the initial consultation.

Consultation

If your teeth have grown crooked, or your bite is unaligned causing an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist as a candidate for braces. Braces can be a necessary treatment at any age, and can relieve symptoms of an unaligned bite, make teeth easier to clean, and generally present a straighter, more symmetrical smile.

After you get your referral, your orthodontist will schedule an appointment for an initial examination to make sure that you really do need braces. Your orthodontist might ask to see your most recent dental X-rays, or order new imaging, to better diagnose how your teeth need to move, and might also give you some initial information about how long your treatment might take, maintenance tips, or restrictions you should be aware of.

Treatment Planning

Everyone’s teeth and bite patterns are different, and your orthodontist will create a multistep plan to move your teeth into perfect alignment. This usually starts with making a three-dimensional mold of your mouth, which your orthodontist will use to make a model set of braces.

Initial Placement

This is perhaps the appointment that takes the longest, and all subsequent procedures should be much less time-consuming. To initially place the brackets, your orthodontist must first clean and dry the surfaces of your teeth. You may have to wear a specialized guard for a few minutes that keeps your lips and tongue away from the tooth surface, as the dental cement used to keep the brackets in place will not bond effectively if they are wet. Your orthodontist will place all the brackets in a predetermined position—this usually takes 20-30 minutes.

Placing The Wire

After all the brackets are placed, your orthodontist will insert the wire meant to create leverage and move the teeth. Sometimes this means placing the wire with different kinks or bends, which is a result of the predetermined plan they made beforehand. These wires are adjusted once every 4-8 weeks to continue the gradual progression of the straightening process. Each time you go in for an adjustment, you may feel your braces are applying pressure differently than they did before. This is the desired goal of an adjustment, and you will gradually get used to the sensation after a few days.

Tips And Oral Care

One of the most important aspects of having braces is home care. Your orthodontist will walk you through some of the things you can do at home to ensure that you are brushing properly, as food caught in your braces will still cause tooth decay, bad breath, or even tooth discoloration once the brackets are removed. Using a specially shaped brush to clean in between the brackets and wire is a common method of braces care. You can also use special equipment like a WaterPik, which uses a concentrated jet of water to clean between braces and even between teeth—similar to flossing.

Dietary Restrictions

Certain foods can be hazardous to your oral health and progress with your braces if consumed in high quantities or not cleaned properly. Hard, crunchy, or sticky foods can get caught in your braces, making them very difficult to clean and leading to tooth decay around the brackets. Taking large bites into foods like apples or candy bars can even cause enough stress to remove the brackets on your teeth—usually with a forceful and uncomfortable “Pop!” Dietary restrictions may be annoying and seem unnecessary, but they are important to ensure that you can complete your treatment with no delays.

It can seem like a lot to remember, but braces eventually become easy to live with. And with a couple of appointments, a consistent home care routine, and a few less sticky treats, you can be on your way to a perfectly straight, healthy smile in a few months! If you have more questions, or if you think braces are the right kind of treatment for you, call the professionals at Elevated Orthodontics today.