Getting Braces: What You Need to Know

The impressions have been made, and the appointment has been set: It's time for getting braces. Once all the prep work has been done, your orthodontist has to actually apply the braces to your teeth, something which might jangle your nerves. Whether it's you or your child in the orthodontist's chair, knowing what to expect and how to prep for braces can help calm some of those jitters.

Clean Your Teeth

If your teeth aren't sufficiently clean before you get braces, your orthodontist will have to clean them with a polishing paste so that the braces can properly be cemented to your teeth. If possible, schedule a regular professional cleaning appointment with your dentist a few days before you get your new braces so the teeth will be plaque-free prior to your braces appointment. Then, brushing with a Colgate Total® toothpaste — along with flossing and gargling mouthwash before your appointment — can help make you feel more confident and will speed things along with the orthodontist.

Talk Types of Braces

Before your orthodontist gets started, make sure that you understand what type of braces are being used and how they'll affect your teeth. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, there are typically three types of braces, all of which utilize wires and elastic bands to attach the braces together and align teeth:

  • Brackets that are bonded to the front of the teeth, which are most typical for children.
  • Brackets that are bonded to the back of the teeth.
  • Metal bands that wrap around the teeth.

Your orthodontist will choose the right type of braces based on your specific dental challenges. Luckily, there are several options from which to choose to make braces uniquely yours, such as choosing clear bands so they're less noticeable or letting kids pick out bright, fun colors.

Expect Some Discomfort

You can expect some mild discomfort as you head home. Your teeth might be sensitive, and the new braces can cause sores in your mouth, warns the Seton Hill University Center for Orthodontics. Try eating soft foods, such as soup, pasta and bananas, in the few days following the application, and take an over-the-counter pain medication as needed. If you experience high levels of discomfort that won't go away with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, however, call your orthodontist for a second opinion. Your sensitivity should go away after a few days.

Talk to your orthodontist about proper care of your braces. You'll need to brush regularly and use a Waterpik to flush out the food particles that can get caught between braces and teeth; you should also avoid sticky foods. With proper care and by seeing your orthodontist regularly for checkups, you can keep your teeth healthy while your braces are in place.

Getting braces can be a little nerve-wracking, but the fear of the unknown is usually the worst part. Asking plenty of questions and prepping physically for your appointment should go a long way toward increasing your comfort level. Next stop: A perfect smile!

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