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A Quick Guide to Getting Braces

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Listen up, folks. Don't read into the stigma associated with "getting braces." If you know what to expect going into the journey of straightening your teeth, the whole process won't seem so difficult. Orthodontists are experts at aligning teeth, and yours will be sure to explain the entire journey from beginning to end. Everyone's teeth are different and some have to prepare for braces when we reach a certain age. Braces will help apply pressure and align your teeth or bite. The information below will help put you at ease as this experience is very common, leading to millions of healthy smiles.

Preparing for Braces

Before you get your braces, you'll need to meet with your orthodontist first. That first visit typically consists of:

  • Answering questions on your oral and overall health
  • Performing a clinical exam
  • Taking X-rays
  • Getting dental impressions of your teeth for the braces
  • Prescribing a treatment plan

Your treatment plan will entail which type of braces are needed, expectations during the procedure, caring for your braces, and an overall timeline.

The Procedure

Everyone's mouth is different, so your braces experience will differ from your brother, sister, or friend. However, a typical procedure for getting traditional braces put on routinely includes the following performed by your orthodontist.

  • Cleaning and drying your teeth
  • Applying adhesive to teeth to attach the brackets
  • Installing the archwires into the brackets
  • Then using elastic bands to secure them

Expect 1-2 hours for the procedure. You should also anticipate a level of discomfort and unfamiliarity as your tongue and cheeks will be rubbing against the braces. That sensitivity and soreness should take a week or so to get accustomed to.

Caring for Your Braces

You've got your braces. Now what? Well, you've got to maintain and care for them. What does that mean? It means a few things. First, it's brushing and flossing.

When brushing with braces:

  • Rinse with water before you brush to help dislodge any food from the braces
  • Brush at a 45° angle at the gumline with a brush made for braces
  • Then brush on top of the brackets going down
  • Follow that by brushing the bottom bracket and wire going up
  • Get every tooth at the gumline, as well as above and below the brackets, to remove all plaque and food debris

When flossing with braces:

  • Give a floss threader a try to make it an easier experience
  • You could also opt for a water irrigator to aid in rinsing out food particles in between teeth
  • After brushing and flossing, rinse with mouthwash to prevent cavities and remove bacteria

Besides oral care, your diet is a significant factor in caring for your braces. What foods you eat and don't eat will greatly impact how clean and effective your braces can be for you. When it comes to food, it's easier to remember what not to consume. That list includes:

  • Caramel
  • Gummies
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts

These food types can all get stuck in your braces very easily. It's also smart to avoid high sugar items that can lead to plaque build-up and tooth decay.

That's your quick guide on preparing for braces, procedure expectations, and caring for them. Regular visits to your dentist and orthodontist are a must as well. It's possible a retainer may be necessary after your braces. Either way, your oral health team should be able to address any other questions or concerns you may have. Remember, the more information you have going in, the more prepared you'll be for your braces to give you a happy and healthy smile.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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