In the United States and Canada, more than 4 million people receive orthodontic treatment, reports the Canadian Association of Orthodontists. Orthodontic treatment, which includes braces, can lead to straighter teeth, but that's far from the only benefit. Untreated orthodontic problems may cause a number of dental health concerns, including gum disease, tooth decay and bone destruction. A misaligned bite may even lead to dental injuries or speech impairments.
If you're getting braces to treat any of these conditions, you may be wondering: How are braces put on?
Getting braces usually requires more than one appointment. During your first appointment, the orthodontist will examine your mouth and may ask you questions about your oral health history. This examination may also include X-rays and dental impressions. Panorex x-rays are taken of the entire mouth so the orthodontist can visually see how the teeth are erupting in the mouth. Dental impressions are used to create a model of your teeth, which the orthodontist references while planning your treatment. Getting an impression made can be uncomfortable and may trigger your gag reflex, but fortunately, it doesn't take long. After reviewing the x-rays and dental impressions, the orthodontist will begin putting together the treatment plan.
Preparing for Braces
You will meet with your orthodontist again to go over the treatment plan in more detail and the timeline for when he will begin to put the braces on and how often your appointments will be at his office. A range of time will be discussed for how long the braces will be on to correct the malocclussion (or bad bite).
Before you see your orthodontist to have your braces put on, it's a good idea to see your dentist and dental hygienist for aprofessional cleaning. Once your dental hygienist removes the plaque and tartar from your teeth and gumline and polishes your teeth, your teeth will be clean and ready for the braces.
Make sure to brush and floss immediately prior to your braces application appointment to remove any food particles or other residue from your teeth.
How Are Braces Put On?
You'll need to return to your orthodontist to have the braces put on. The application of the braces can take between one and two hours, depending on individual circumstances. First, the orthodontist will ensure your teeth are clean and dry. They may need to clean your teeth with a polishing paste to ensure they're clean enough for the braces to be applied. Then, they can begin the braces application process.
They will apply bonding cement, an adhesive substance, to the teeth, and carefully affix the brackets to the teeth. Once the brackets are in place, the orthodontist will fit the arch wire into each bracket to connect them. Then, they attach small elastics, called ligatures, to the brackets to hold the arch wire in place.
What to Expect After Getting Braces
If you're getting braces soon, you may want to know if braces hurt. When braces are first put on, there should be minimal pain. Once the teeth start to realign in the first three days after the application, you may experience some discomfort. Don't worry — this discomfort is typically short-lived as you get used to the pressure of the braces.
Your orthodontist may recommend taking an over-the-counter pain medication as needed to manage the discomfort. If these medications don't reduce your pain, talk to your orthodontist about other options. Eating soft foods, such as soups, smoothies, yogurt and pudding, may also help you manage if you're feeling sore.
New braces may rub uncomfortably against the inside of the mouth. While you're getting used to the sensation of having braces, your orthodontist may recommend applying dental wax to the brackets to cover any sharp surfaces.
Getting braces can be a nerve-wracking and exciting experience. Knowing what to expect during the process may help you feel more confident about your decision to get braces. For more information about braces and the application process, don't hesitate to ask your dentist or orthodontist.