Braces are a common orthodontic option used to straighten teeth for people who have crooked teeth or a misaligned bite. They apply pressure to the teeth on a continuous basis, which will eventually shift them into a more even alignment.
Preparing for Braces
If you're considering getting braces, it's a good idea to speak with your dentist first, so he can refer you to an orthodontist. When you meet with the orthodontist, he will ask you questions about your health and perform a clinical exam. He will likely order a series of X-rays of your head and mouth , along with photographs and an impression that will be used to create a plaster model of your teeth. Once he has all the relevant information, the orthdontist will prescribe a plan of treatment best suited for your particular situation.
Typically, the orthodontist will begin by thoroughly cleaning and drying your teeth. Next, he will apply an adhesive substance to your teeth in order to attach the brackets. Once they are in place, he will install the arch wire into the brackets and use elastic to secure them in place. Typically, the entire process takes between 1 and 2 hours. Though the procedure itself is not painful, it is not uncommon to feel some level of discomfort afterward. Initially, your tongue and cheek will rub against the braces, which may cause some sensitivity, and your teeth may feel sore. Getting used to the braces will typically take about a week.
Caring for Your Braces
Once your braces have been placed on your teeth, it's important for you to care for them properly in order to get the best results. Common dental practices, such as daily brushing and flossing, should be maintained. When brushing, it's important to clean your teeth thoroughly. Consider using a proxabrush - a small interdental cleaning device - to help you clean those hard to reach areas around your braces and orthodontic wires. Because brushing will be more difficult with braces, you will need to spend more than two minutes a day to thorough clean around the brackets and remove plaque at the gum line.
When flossing, always use dental floss that is waxed to prevent it from getting stuck between your braces. Using a floss threader is key, first, cut a piece of floss that is 18 inches in length, place the floss through the floss threader, thread the floss just under the wire of your braces and carefully pass it between the two adjacent teeth. Repeat this process and move the floss to a clean area and repeat the back and forth motion with all of your teeth, upper and lower.
You will also need to pay particular attention to the foods you eat. Foods that are high in sugar may lead to excess plaque build-up that can cause damage to your teeth. Additionally, foods such as caramel, gummy candies, popcorn and nuts, are good to avoid, as they can become lodged in the braces themselves. Lastly, you should make sure to visit a dental professional for any subsequent check-ups and regular appointments with your orthodontist for adjustments to your braces.