If you think you need braces, you’re not alone. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly 5 million people in the US and Canada are currently receiving orthodontic care.
In fact, braces have become increasingly popular all over the world, especially among adults. Over 1 million adults wear braces: some for the first time, and some who have chosen to have braces again after wearing them as kids.
How Braces Work
Tooth colored braces work the same as traditional metal brackets. All braces are designed to move your teeth using a small amount of directed force. Orthodontics can move teeth in almost any direction – in, out, up, down, right, left, or twisted and turned.
Although other products, such as plastic aligners, straighten crooked teeth, braces are still the method of choice for comprehensive alignment and bite correction.
Generally, brackets and bands are attached first, followed by an archwire that is installed along the brackets. Depending on how the braces are put on and what materials are used, pressure can be precisely directed to move the teeth.
As a tooth moves, new bone gradually takes the place of old and secures its new position in the jaw. At the end of treatment, the patient is left with a healthy, beautiful smile.
Life With Braces
It seems like there’s a lot to know before starting braces, but it’s really not that complicated. In fact, after a while you may even forget you’re wearing them.
When you have braces, getting to your scheduled appointments is crucial. If you miss too many appointments, it could increase the total time in braces. If too much time passes between appointments, prolonged forces might overcorrect the teeth, making problems worse.
In the long run, missing appointments could wind up costing you more time and money.
If you have an oral emergency, call your dentist’s office right away. Often, the problem can be solved with a temporary solution or suggestion given over the phone. If not, you can set up an appointment to have the problem fixed.
A loose or uncomfortable wire can be covered with a piece of orthodontic wax until you can get in to the office.
If a bracket or band comes loose, don’t panic — but do call your dentist. He or she may say it’s OK to wait until your next appointment, although in some cases you’ll need to come in sooner.
To put it simply — missing, broken, loose, or ill-fitting braces and appliances can’t do their job. Anything that gets in the way of this work has the potential to lengthen your total treatment time.
Don’t be afraid of getting in trouble — chances are, your dentist has seen it all. What’s most important is to fix the problem right away before it causes even more trouble down the road.
If a tooth gets knocked out, place it in a glass of milk until it can be replaced. Milk keeps the sensitive membrane on the tooth from drying out. But hurry — re-implantation is most successful if done within the first couple of hours.
The Importance Of Good Oral Hygiene
Not only is good oral hygiene vital to orthodontic success, but it will help to ensure that your smile lasts a lifetime. Get used to:
Brushing your teeth after every meal
Flossing daily as directed
Massaging your gums gently with your toothbrush to keep them healthy
Avoiding foods that can damage your braces or get stuck in your teeth.
With braces, good oral hygiene is even more important than ever, because it’s easy for particles of food to get trapped in and around brackets and wires. This increases your chances of tooth decay and can cause bad breath.
With tooth colored brackets, bits of food will be easy to see. Not only that, but improper oral hygiene can cause the ligatures that hold the archwire onto your brackets to discolor and look bad.
If circumstances prevent you from brushing, it can be helpful to rinse your mouth with water after drinking soda or eating a sugary snack.
Once your braces are in place, it’s up to you to keep them in good working order. Beware of the following:
Gum — regular and sugarless
Chewy candy like caramel, licorice, Starburst, and Now and Laters
Hard, sticky candy like Jolly Ranchers
Tough foods like beef jerky
Crunchy foods like raw vegetables and hard bread
Also, don’t bite on things like pens and pencils or ice. It only takes a moment to pop off a bracket or break a wire. Some estimates say that each untreated broken bracket can prolong treatment by a whole month! Before you put something in your mouth, ask yourself if it’s worth it.
Express Yourself With Colored Ligatures
Many patients enjoy dressing up their braces for holidays or special occasions with colored ligatures (sometimes called “donuts”). The colors really stand out when used with InVu braces! Best of all, you can change colors at every visit. The only limit is your imagination.
Express Yourself With Custom Retainer Designs
Once your braces have been removed, chances are you’ll have to wear a retainer for a while. You can express yourself by choosing from a variety of custom retainer designs. Let your imagination run wild – there’s a rainbow of colors and styles to choose from, including glitter, neon, patterns and swirls, wiggly eyes, sports imprints, or other symbols. Check with your dentist to pick a retainer that’s as unique as you are!
Staying On Track
If you are prescribed elastics, be sure to wear them EXACTLY as you’re supposed to. Not doing so can increase your time in braces!
Don’t be afraid to call your dentist if you are confused about the proper placement of rubber bands or appliances.
Remember to keep track of retainers so they don’t get lost, damaged, or accidentally thrown away.