Braces do one thing well – they straighten out and reposition crooked teeth. That is the only reason we use them. There are over 100 different designs and even more companies that sell them. Some designs work better than others, with less problems and issues. Other designs are focused on the colours or absence of colours, some even are clear or ceramic (tooth-coloured). Most clinicians will offer braces that are metallic, some will offer an option of going to a cosmetic ceramic design (for an added cost). Not us! Keep reading…
The most important thing is that we work in a team (orthodontist, staff and you) to get the very best results we can achieve. Our preference is always to not remove any teeth unnecessarily. Importantly, we request that you maintain an excellent level of brushing and oral hygiene. We also ask you to care for the appliances, and to wear any rubber bands or other appliances as per the orthodontist’s instructions.
Having braces makes for a plaque and food trap. Food and other bits can easily get stuck between your teeth and around the braces. Therefore, it is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly. Proper oral hygiene will ensure that the teeth and gums are healthy during and after treatment, which means teeth move as fast as possible. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional clean. Adults who have a history of gum disease will need to see a periodontist (gum specialist) regularly during the course of orthodontic treatment. If oral hygiene is not up to a high standard, then the risk of developing decay is high, and treatment may need to be stopped early to avoid long-term issues. We will be keeping a close eye on the health of the gums and teeth during your treatment.
All the different bracket designs will do what they are meant to once an archwire (the wire going between the teeth or brackets) is inserted and activated – they will move the teeth/tooth to a straighter position. Without going into too much detail, brackets are precise and delicate attachments that are glued lightly to teeth. They are not meant to be superglued, as we need to think of removing them. Sometimes, with limited care and not following the instruction provided, brackets can come loose from the teeth, or the archwires bend and stick out… this relatively small annoyance is about the only “emergency” you can expect to deal with when you have braces on. Nothing serious.
The more of these breakages that occur, the longer the treatment is guaranteed to take!
You can smile and rest assured, that for most of our patients, this will not feature as an issue.
When braces go on, there must be some changes that occur to your diet. For the first couple of days, you should ideally stick to soft foods. Avoiding tough meats, hard bread, nuts and raw vegetables is a must, as this is a wonderful method of pulling braces off and having breakages!
Before long, you’ll be able to bite an apple again… gently! You will learn that you can chop carrots and apples into small pieces and eat them, without any trouble.
Chewy foods – foods like toffies, mints, chewing gum lollies, bagels, hard rolls and liquorice
Crunchy foods – foods like popcorn, ice, chips, crunchy cookies, chocolate bars like “Crunchie” bars, pretzels and hard crackers
Sticky and gooey foods – foods like caramels, muesli bars and sugar gum
Hard foods – foods like nuts and hard candy
Foods you have to bite into – foods like corn-on-the-cob, apples, carrots, popcorn, lamb ribs, chocolate bars and crunchy cereal; these are notorious for breaking brackets and archwires. Apples, carrots and celery need to be sliced up before eating
Chewing on hard things e.g. fingernails, pens and pencils, hair clips can damage braces and the teeth. Damaged braces will without a doubt cause treatment delays, so it is best to avoid breakages.
You will not be charged for one bracket coming loose. From then on, each breakage will add a $50 charge to treatment, so please take care of the braces to avoid adding both time and cost to treatment.
Eating during the braces journey is tricky, especially at the start. For the first few days, your teeth and gums may be slightly sore, and you might not be sure what foods are easy to eat with your new braces. These are some examples of foods we think are best to eat with braces:
Dairy – foods like soft cheese, pudding, milk-based smoothies
Bread – foods like soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
Grains – foods like pasta, soft-cooked rice
Meats/poultry – foods like well-cooked chicken (off the bone), meatballs, cured meats
Seafood – fish like tuna, salmon, white fish
Vegetables – veggies like mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, spinach, beans
Fruits – examples include bananas, pureed fruit, applesauce
Treats – examples include ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, velvet cake
We won’t lie to you…getting braces put on by one of our orthodontists in the chair is one of the easiest things you can have done in your mouth. The only thing is, it can get a little tiring towards the end of the initial “braces-on” appointment. We can compare it to your mouth feeling like it has run a marathon!
Some people may start to feel general tenderness within the first 3-5 days in their mouth – teeth may feel tender to biting pressures. This can be relieved by taking simple pain-relief medications like paracetamol. Rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash may also help (dissolve 5 mL of salt in 200 mL of warm water, and rinse for 1 minute).
In the first one to two weeks after getting braces on, the lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated as they become accustomed to the surfaces of the braces. During that time, you can put wax on the braces to lessen this irritation. On the day you get your braces, we’ll show you how to use this wax before you leave the clinic.
It is a really strange feeling to give your teeth a wiggle and them feeling loose. Don’t worry, it is normal as the teeth need to loosen before they can move , this is to be expected throughout treatment (especially at the beginning when lots of teeth are maligned). Once the teeth settle, they will once more become rigid and fixed, in their new position.
Although it is relatively uncommon, do not be alarmed if a wire starts to poke and cause irritation – let us know and we will work with you to sort it out. If it happens during our non-working hours, then these are some ways that may ease the irritation until your visit with us:
– use the tip of the handle of a spoon to gently push the wire back into the bracket or bend it downwards. Alternatively,
– use new nail-clippers to snip the end of the wire that is causing the irritation. Please don’t use anything bigger or sharper than that – this often creates more trouble for us.
At the beginning of treatment, it will take some time to get used to having your new brackets and bands, and to adjust your diet accordingly. As a result, you may find that a bracket or band, especially at the back, may become loose. The most common cause of loosening a bracket is eating things that are hard. Please be mindful, as loose brackets and appliance breakages cause delay and elongate your overall treatment time. If there is a breakage, use your phone to take a photo of the broken bracket and email it to us as soon as possible – that way, we can assess whether we need to resolve the issue earlier than scheduled. Usually, a loose bracket or band does not require an emergency visit to the office – often, we will organise to put the bracket or band on at your regular appointment. However, if the bracket that has become loose is the anchor bracket that you are wearing elastics to, then we will need to organise to see you more urgently, so that you go back to wearing your elastics quickly. Remember that elastics move teeth, so no elastics = no movement = considerable delay to your treatment.
To successfully complete your treatment plan and give you the very best results possible, we must work together to ensure that your appliances do what they are meant to do.
If you play any contact sports, it is important that you let us know. A mouthguard is recommended when playing these sports, and this remains so even with braces. In most cases, the “boil and bite type” is the best type, because your teeth are continually moving with braces.
If your are involved in a significant accident whilst playing a contact sport, please always seek medical advice. If the accident involves your face, mouth or gums – check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth have loosened or the appliance is damaged, give us a call immediately so we can get you in for an urgent appointment. If any teeth are displaced, please do not wait for a few days, contact us immediately. If after-hours, please see attend an A&E dental practice. In the meantime, get some first aid and treat any discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.
True orthodontic emergencies which are those that require an immediate appointment, are very rare. Examples of these include: the jaw locking – open or closed, a fall or blow to the face that knocks teeth loose, or an infection around the teeth with braces in place. If any of these occur, contact our practice as soon as feasible. If you are uncertain as to what constitutes an emergency, it is better to call our office and let us know what is up. We will make arrangements to see you as soon as possible. If after-hours and you require immediate clinical attention, please attend an A&E dental practice.