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Hearing that you or your loved one needs braces can be a little scary. After all, horror movies have used the visual of them for decades. We’re here to say that braces aren’t so bad! Millions of people around the world have had them, and now you’ll be able to say you have too.
Let’s take a long, hard look at the world of orthodontic correction.
What Your First Orthodontist Visit Will Be Like
Everyone is a little nervous when they visit a new doctor for the first time. Don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal. Your orthodontist will probably go over your issues with you. Whether you’re getting them to correct a large issue or a simple one will heavily impact on what options you have. But we’ll go over that in the next section.
You’ll likely expect your orthodontist visit to go a lot like a regular dental visit. In all honesty, your first one probably will be similar to what you’ve experienced at your dentist. However, orthodontists are looking for different things than your normal dentist typically would. Remember that orthodontists are specialized professionals that deal specifically with how you bite and how your teeth fit together.
Many orthodontists will examine your file with you and explain what the problems that they see. They may even ask you to bite into a soft clay mold or a paper leaflet, then show you where your bite is lacking and what teeth need to be fixed into the correct positions. In many cases, you will be able to see for yourself most orthodontic issues when you see your bite.
You may or may not be fitted for your corrective needs on your first visit. If your teeth are very close together, sometimes spacers are used to force teeth apart. These are essentially little rubber bands that are inserted between teeth to give your professionals more room to work when it’s time to put your corrective equipment on your teeth.
Spacers may be used for up to two weeks at a time. For the little ones, they’re often available in a variety of colors. You’ll brush as normal, though you may not be able to floss depending on how tightly pressed together your teeth are. Ask your office for further details and they will be happy to provide you with a detailed pamphlet. Spacers sometimes do cause a little pressure discomfort for those wearing them for the first day or two.
Options for your Teeth
There are three main types of braces. Here, we’ll look at the most common options.
- Invisalign: Invisalign is a “teeth movement system” based on a constantly changing amount of liners. They work a bit like retainers do and are generally for mild to moderate bite issues. Though some over and under bites may be fixed by Invisalign, most need help from more traditional methods. However, this product is great for people that simply need their teeth shifted to one side or the other. This is a gentle method that does work for them. Ask your doctor about this option and whether it’s right for your case.
- Brackets: Tiny brackets are glued to your teeth and simple wires gray through them. The wires are then tightened in a way to slowly pull your teeth in the direction they need to go. Brackets have mostly replaced the orthodontic bands we’ll be talking about in the next section because they cover much of the same territory.
- Traditional Brackets: These are usually the least expensive option but are also used in cases where serious reformation of the bite and alignment of the teeth must be done. These are the dark gray bands that wrap around the entire tooth and have a wire run through the front of the band so that they may have their tension adjusted as needed.
Depending on why you’re having these put on, you may have an option of all three of these or simply one. It’s very hard to say without reviewing your individual case- which will happen during your initial visit. In some instances, you may need to change your method mid-alignment. If one of these methods isn’t working, a stronger method may need to be used. Try not to get your heart set on one or another of these until you speak to your doctor.
Adjustments and Coping
Being fitted for traditional brackets can be a rather sore process, however, most people find it hurting no less than a deep cleaning at the dentist. Most of the time, it’s the adjustments that cause patients to be a little sorer.
Painful is probably too strong of a word to use. Again, most patients only end up feeling like they’ve brushed too hard for a day or two before they’ve adjusted. Some patients may end up having only slight pressure soreness for a few hours after an adjustment appointment. Everyone reacts differently to these procedures. But try to remember that all of these methods are done in a slow, subtle way over many months to years to keep you from being in pain. Adjustments are done in small, but significant, increments.
Once you’ve been fitted, you’ll be given your initial advice on what’s allowed to be eaten and what isn’t. Generally speaking, you’ll want to avoid very hard food items and sticky items that may hurt your brackets or accidentally unglue them. However, what is allowed and what isn’t must be discussed with your doctor.
Regular checkups and adjustments will keep your treatment going smoothly. After an adjustment, we said that you may be a bit sore. It’s common to feel uncomfortable because your gums are experiencing a new sensation. Eating soft foods for a day or two or snacking on cool treats can help allay that soreness. Soon you’ll be back to normal.
Long Term Care
Long term care means trying to keep your mouth pristine around your new adjustment system. We have tips and tricks we can show you, but it is very important that you do what we show. Accidentally removing a wire means a quick trip in to get it re-set and readjusted to the tension it was, and it can happen if you don’t brush carefully.
In most cases, there is incredibly minimal staining or damage to the outside of teeth after your treatment is over. However, if you have worries about this please speak to your doctor before your treatment begins. Again, there are many tips we can give you at your individual appointment to help you avoid these issues.
Remember that this treatment does take a good deal of time to work. Even when dealing with invisible alignment, sometimes patients may feel frustrated. If you feel as though you’re in pain longer than a day or two after an adjustment, feel free to call at any time.
Have you been recommended for an orthodontic consultation or a fitting for an orthodontic device by your dentist? Give us a call and we’ll walk you through the process. We look forward to seeing you and we hope this has put your fears to rest.
Are Braces Painful Checklist 2017
Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.