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Braces FAQs

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What are braces?

Braces are orthodontic devices used to correct misaligned teeth and bite-related issues.

Are braces right for me?

Braces are appropriate for any patient seeking to undergo teeth alignment. In recent decades, braces have grown more popular with adults due to more discreet designs and a shrinking social stigma.

What issues do they solve?

Braces are particularly effective at treating complex cases. While clear aligners are able to address minor cosmetic issues, they are ill-equipped to tackle significant tooth corrections, as they cannot exert the same force and reposition teeth with the same effectiveness as braces. Because of their mechanics, braces can successfully rotate and pull teeth into position, allowing them to fix complicated issues like crossbites.

How do I keep my braces in shape? 

Braces should be treated as an extension of your teeth and require regular maintenance to ensure effectiveness. To preserve the structural integrity of your braces, it’s important to:

  • Brush and floss regularly
    • When undergoing treatment with braces, it’s important to clean your teeth after every meal to prevent plaque buildup. In addition to increased frequency, the way you brush needs to change. To properly care for your braces, invest in a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush at a 45-degree angle and use circular motions, cleaning wires and brackets from top to bottom. When you floss, be sure to clean both between the teeth and under the wires using slow, gentle motions. Flossing aggressively can strain the wires and potentially damage your braces.
  • Avoid certain foods
    • Sticky foods, like gummy bears or caramel, should be avoided at all costs, as they can become lodged between wires and adhere to brackets. Crunchy snacks like chips are also problematic, as they can cause wires to snap. If you’re craving crunchy foods, consider cutting them into small, bite-sized pieces to limit the strain on your wiring.
  • Protect against hard contact
    • Hard contact can cause pieces of your lips, cheeks, or gums to become lodged in between brackets, causing injury. This is of particular concern for athletes, who are constantly exposed to dangerous conditions. People who play physical sports can still participate but it’s important to take precautions. Instead of wearing a generic mouth guard, make an appointment with your dentist to be fitted for a custom mouth guard that you can wear on both your bottom and top teeth.

What are some benefits of undergoing braces treatment? 

Braces improve the functionality of your teeth and jaw, correcting existing issues and preventing future complications from taking hold. The benefits of undergoing an alignment with braces include:

  • Less difficulty chewing and speaking
  • Reduced risk of gum disease, TMJ, and arthritis
  • Elimination of bad breath
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced wear and tear on teeth
  • Weight loss

What does the fitting process entail? 

After extensive cleaning, your dentist will begin the fitting procedure by placing a special adhesive on your teeth. Once the glue is applied, your brackets will be placed on top, affixing them to the teeth. After each tooth has been modified, your back molars will be fitted with metal bands to anchor the braces properly. These bands will be attached in a similar manner as the brackets and may require some additional manipulation to achieve the proper fit. Finally, your dentist will attach an archwire to your brackets, using rubber bands or ligatures to hold the structure in place. The process should take 1-2 hours and may result in minor soreness over the next few days.

When is the best age for the first orthodontic exam?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends age 7. By this time, and in some cases earlier, permanent teeth have begun erupting, and early evaluations can help in preventing certain complications and oral surgery. Seeing a child before their jaw growth has slowed has many orthodontic benefits.

How long does orthodontic treatment usually last?

The average time a patient wears braces is approximately 1 to 2 years. However, each patient is unique, and the actual treatment time is case-sensitive. A few factors come into play when working out a treatment plan, including the amount of correction necessary, the rate of the patient’s growth, maintaining proper oral hygiene, and patient cooperation.

Does having braces hurt?

While braces generally do not “hurt”, a patient may feel some soreness and tenderness in the teeth and gums when the braces are first applied and after adjustments. This discomfort usually lasts 1 to 4 days and can be treated with an OTC pain reliever.

How often do I have to come in for appointments?

We ask our patients to come in approximately every 4 – 8 weeks.

Should I keep seeing my general/pediatric dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your dentist for dental cleanings. We recommend every four months for cleanings and dental checkups to avoid any problems while wearing braces. Pearly Whites offers pediatric and adult dental services, and we will gladly accommodate all your needs.

Do some kids get braces more than once?

Yes. In some cases, early intervention is necessary to fix a specific problem (i.e., crossbite or protruding front teeth). This early intervention does not mean the child will not require braces again once all their permanent teeth are present. This early treatment can, however, improve the overall outcome and can lead to a shorter second phase of treatment.

Are permanent extractions necessary?

New orthodontic technologies use lighter wires that have allowed us to accommodate all the teeth without extractions. However, sometimes in order to achieve an optimal and esthetically pleasing result, extractions are necessary to improve a patient’s profile. If at all possible, we do everything in our power to find an alternative treatment to avoid dental extractions.

How is laser used in orthodontics?

A common problem we see is when a patient has too much gum tissue covering a tooth, and it gets in the way of bracket placement, which will slow down treatment. While in the past, this would call for surgery, with our laser and a topical numbing cream, we can painlessly remove the extra gum tissue. Aside from the many benefits of avoiding surgery, this also allows us to carry on with our treatment faster than in the past. Additionally, sometimes the shape or architecture of the gum tissue after treatment is not esthetically pleasing. These can be re-contoured using the dental laser.

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