If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, a lot of questions have probably occurred to you. Here’s a guide to what you should know about getting braces.
There are basically three types of braces, all of which contain brackets, wires, and bands to straighten your teeth:
- Braces with brackets bonded to the front of the teeth – typically used for children.
- Braces with brackets bonded to the back of the teeth.
- Braces with metal bands that wrap around the teeth.
Braces1 can also be categorized by the material they’re made of:
Metal braces. Metal braces are the most effective in rectifying serious cases of teeth overcrowding and are the most affordable type of braces. They are also the most conspicuous type of braces, although nowadays they’re more discreet and comfortable.
Ceramic braces. Ceramic braces have tooth-colored or clear brackets that blend in with your teeth but can be susceptible to staining if you don’ take proper care of them. Ceramic braces cost more than metal braces but work faster than plastic aligners.
Plastic aligners. Clear plastic aligners like Invisalign provide an alternative to traditional braces – with none of the brackets and wires. Invisalign appliances are now the most popular removable braces. They’re practically invisible and provide precise control in aligning teeth.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Braces?
Some people don’t realize that braces go beyond simply straightening crooked teeth. Braces can also bring other major oral health benefits.
Helping to Prevent Cavities
Straight teeth not only look better but are easier to clean. Effective brushing and flossing can be tricky if your teeth are crooked or crowded. This can cause an accumulation of bacterial plaque and tartar that attacks enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth. Once braces have repositioned your teeth, proper oral hygiene becomes much easier and greatly reduces the risk of cavities.
Reducing the Risk of Gum Disease
Cavities aren’t the only potential problem if orthodontic issues make it difficult to keep your teeth clean. You can also get gum disease (periodontitis) as infection eats into the soft tissue and bones supporting your teeth.
Lessening the Risk of Jaw Pain and Headaches
Crooked teeth can cause a misaligned bite that puts a strain on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), resulting in jaw pain and tension headaches. Braces can change teeth alignment to rectify the bite function.
Helping Your Digestion
If your teeth or bite are not working properly, you’ll likely find it difficult to chew your food effectively. It’s far easier for your stomach to digest small pieces of food rather than large lumps.
How Do I Keep Up Good Oral Hygiene While Wearing Braces?
Although brushing and flossing will be a breeze once your teeth have been straightened, oral hygiene while wearing your braces can be a challenge because of all the resulting nooks and crannies.
According to the American Dental Association2 (ADA), good oral hygiene is particularly important if you have braces, and you should brush regularly, as instructed by your dentist.
A toothpaste containing enamel-strengthening fluoride will be particularly beneficial in preventing damage to your teeth if you wear braces. If you are unable to brush your teeth after each meal and snack, drinking lots of water and rinsing out your mouth will help to remove food debris.
An antiseptic mouthwash with fluoride will reduce the risk of gum inflammation that may develop from braces, while an antibacterial rinse will kill germs.
Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth and can eliminate up to 80 percent of plaque. Try using waxed floss with a threader. With a little practice, you should be able to gently slide the floss into your gum line without it getting caught on your braces.
Hi 5 Orthodontics has put together a detailed guide on brushing and flossing after getting braces3.
If you opt for removable plastic aligners, you can just pop them out to brush and floss as usual – and for meals and snacks.
What Can I Eat While Wearing Braces?
If you get traditional braces, you need to be careful about what you eat. Hard foods can damage your braces, and sticky foods can get caught between the brackets and wires. On the other hand, dairy products and fish are easier to manage and help to maintain a nutritious diet.
Other foods to favor when wearing braces include:
How Can I Deal with Problems with My Braces?
Chewing hard or sticky foods when wearing braces can result in slack bands and broken brackets.
Orthodontic bands are the metal rings fixed to teeth. If a band becomes loose, you’ll need your orthodontist to put it back in place or replace it. If a band detaches completely, don’t try to put it back: save it for your orthodontist.
A broken bracket can irritate your gums, tongue or cheek. You can put orthodontic wax over the bracket to relieve discomfort until you can see your orthodontist. If the bracket is very loose, remove it and take it with you to your dental appointment.
How Do I Take Care of My Braces?
Taking good care of your braces is crucial to avoid complications. It will also make them more comfortable. When you get your braces, your orthodontist will explain everything you need to know about looking after them.
Proper care of your braces and regular check-ups with your orthodontist will help you to keep your teeth and gums healthy while your braces are in place.
Which Type of Braces Are Right for Me?
Correcting crooked teeth and bite problems is vital to safeguard your oral health. It will also give you a great smile.
Many general dentists offer orthodontic treatment but an orthodontic specialist has greater expertise, gained through years of extra training. An experienced orthodontist4 will be able to help you decide which type of braces are right for you, and tell you all you need to know about getting braces.