Q. What do braces do?
Dental braces correct teeth that are crowded, crooked, protruding, out of alignment or have irregular spacing. By moving the teeth into the ideal position, dental braces help to create a more attractive and healthier smile for both children and adults.
Q. What are braces made of?
Dental brace wires are made of materials that reposition the teeth and underlying roots more readily and with less discomfort than in the past. Titanium implants may be anchored in the bone on the side of the mouth or palate to help shift teeth back and allow for more room if necessary.
Q. Are there different types of braces?
Yes. There are invisible braces that are clear aligners (such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect) that gradually move your teeth to correct spacing and crowding issues. There also are tooth-colored brackets and wires that are less noticeable, as well as braces that can be placed on the lingual (back side) of the teeth. In addition, some braces can be worn for shorter periods of time.
Q. How long do you keep braces on for?
The standard treatment phase is two years. The duration of treatment varies based on age, the extensiveness of the procedure (some people require more work than others) and how closely the treatment plan is followed.
Q. What causes crooked teeth?
There are several factors that may contribute to misalignment, crooked teeth, and crowded teeth, including supernumerary teeth (extra teeth; also called hyperdontia), missing teeth, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking and jaw function problems.
Q. Why are braces necessary?
When teeth are crooked and crowded, it's very difficult to keep them clean by brushing and flossing properly, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and possible tooth loss. An improper bite interferes with chewing and speaking, and causes abnormal wear on tooth enamel. If your teeth protrude and/or your upper and lower teeth don't come together comfortably (called malocclusion , or a bad bite), jaw problems also may arise.
Q. What's the right age to have braces?
Orthodontic treatment with dental braces should usually begin between the ages of eight and 14 in order to achieve the best results. It is ideal to have an orthodontic evaluation no later than the age of seven, since this is when there is a good mix of primary (baby) and adult teeth in the mouth. Dentists are better able to spot developing teeth and jaw growth at this time in a child's life, which enables them to anticipate problems that may arise and plan braces treatment accordingly.
Q. Do braces work for adults?
Yes. Adults also can benefit from orthodontic treatment with dental braces to correct alignment, spacing, crowding and malocclusion problems. The process for moving teeth is basically the same at any age, but the treatment may take longer for adults because their facial bones are no longer growing, and certain corrections may not be possible utilizing braces alone. Tooth extraction or maxillofacial surgery may be required.
Q. Are braces painful?
When dental braces are first placed and later adjusted, there may be some tightness, which typically progresses to soreness, for approximately four to six hours after the appointment. This soreness directly results from the dentist tightening the arch wires so the teeth continue to move into the correct position. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are recommended to help relieve this pain. The soreness will decrease in about three to five days.
Q. Who provides braces?
Orthodontists are the dentists specializing in the practice of orthodontics, which involves tooth movement and facial development, and the dental professionals who most often perform braces treatments. Non-orthodontists, such as those who undergo manufacturer-sponsored training programs in the use of braces alternatives such as Invisalign and Clear Correct aligners, as well as Six Month Smiles rapid braces treatment, also may provide types of limited orthodontic services.
Q. What Can I Eat?
Overall, people with braces should avoid hard, chewy, crunchy, and sticky foods. Avoiding foods you like may not be fun, but eating things that you're not supposed to eat can cause broken wires or brackets. These can not only be painful, but can actually prolong treatment. In other words, break the rules and you could be stuck with your braces for even longer.
Do not eat :
Caramel and gooey chocolate bars
Very sticky or chunky peanut butter
Chewy candy, taffy, and gummy bears
Use caution when eating :
Chewy bread such as bagels – tear into small pieces
Chips – eat them carefully and one at a time
Corn on the cob – cut off the cob
Apples and carrots – cut into small pieces
Soda and sugary drinks – avoid these whenever possible, as drinking too much can cause tooth decay
Finally, don't chew on any hard items such as ice, pens, pencils, or fingernails.
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Q. Will I still be able to talk when I have braces?
Yes, standard braces should not affect how you talk or the sound of your voice. In certain cases, the orthodontist may need to use an appliance that could get in the way of your tongue. You could experience trouble talking clearly for a day or two, but then your tongue will adjust and you'll be able to talk just fine.
Q. Can I still play football, soccer and other sports if I have braces?
Absolutely. You can play football, baseball, basketball, soccer. You can still go bowling. You can still do everything. Just wear a mouthguard for your sports, and try to not get hit in the mouth.
Avoid sports where you will get hit in the face (fighting, boxing, contact karate, snowball fights).
Q. How about chewing gum with braces?
Gum usually is not recommended. It can get caught on braces and pull them off. In addition, the sugar in the gum can get around behind the braces and cause cavities.
Q. What happens if the braces come off?
Your doctor will attach them again. Usually, this is not a problem, although if it happens lots of times, your orthodontic treatment will take longer.
Q. Why do I need so many follow-ups?
Frequent follow-ups, or "adjustments," are needed to replace worn-out rubber bands, check on your teeth's progress, and make adjustments to the wires to make sure teeth are being pulled in the right direction. Skipping follow-ups can hinder progress, and may cause you to need braces for a longer period of time.
Q. How often will I have follow-up visits?
Most orthodontists see patients every 4-6 weeks.
Q. What will they do at follow-ups?
The dentist will always replace the elastic bands on each bracket and may also take out and replace the wire.
Q. How long will it take to get my braces taken off?
About an hour.
Q. Will it hurt?
No. You should feel a little pressure when the braces are being removed, but no pain.However, your new retainer may hurt a bit.
Q. What should I expect?
The orthodontist will use pliers to remove all the brackets, thoroughly scrape and clean all the glue off your teeth, and take a mold for your new retainer.
Q. What will my teeth look like?
How your teeth will look depends entirely on how well you cared for them while wearing braces. They may look perfect if you cared for them well, or they may be stained with yellow tartar and marks called "white scars" if you did a poor job.
Q. What's next?
Don't expect to be completely finished with the orthodontist - almost all patients need to wear a retainer after they get their braces off to hold the teeth in their new positions. Many orthodontists now recommend wearing retainers for years, and sometimes indefinitely, to prevent teeth from slowly shifting out of place.
Q. What is a retainer?
A retainer is a small, custom-fit removable appliance made of plastic and metal most often used after wearing dental braces to hold teeth in position. Upper retainers fit in the roof of the mouth and lower retainers can be removed or permanently fixed to lower teeth. Removable retainers also can be worn to close gaps or spaces between teeth, or to move a single tooth when full braces aren't necessary.
How should I care for teeth afterwards?
Wait at least a month before any sort of bleaching or whitening treatment. This will give the newly exposed enamel time to become less sensitive. Your teeth and gums will be a bit sensitive at first. Don't immediately rush out and binge on crunchy and chewy previously forbidden foods – ease into it.
Schedule a dental cleaning – there are likely areas that have been neglected over the past couple of years (although paying close attention to your oral hygiene will have helped with this).