Types of Braces
Typically made of high-grade stainless steel, traditional metal braces remain by far the most common type of fixed orthodontic appliances. They consist of metal bands that wrap around the molars in back and smaller metal brackets that are cemented to the front surfaces of the other teeth. Metal braces offer a reliable, effective and economical treatment option. In contrast to the appliances of the past, today’s braces are actually smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to the wearer. The movements are achieved through a gentle, continuous pressure provided by the arch wire. The arch wire runs through the brackets and gently guides the teeth into a proper position. The arch wire is held to the brackets by flexible elastics or metal ties. The flexible elastics come in a variety of colors and are changed monthly. The colors allow the patient to customize their smiles each month with different combinations and patterns.
Clear ceramic braces are a more aesthetic variation on the traditional system. They use the same components as traditional braces except that the brackets on the front side of the teeth are made of a translucent ceramic material that blends in with the tooth’s natural color. This system has become a favorite for our adult patients. Several types of ceramic braces are currently available and the technology is constantly improving. Their aesthetic appeal is undeniable, but there are a few tradeoffs. The ceramic brackets have a slightly larger profile, are less durable than their metal counterparts and although the brackets do not discolor, the ties that hold the arch wire do. The doctor and staff will review with you all limitations and benefits to choosing ceramic braces before the start of treatment.
What to expect when getting braces
- Placement day – The placement of braces will not be painful in the slightest. It may take longer to eat meals, but this is largely because it takes some time to adjust to wearing the braces. In some cases, the teeth may feel more sensitive than usual. Hard, difficult to chew foods should be avoided. A softer diet for the first few days is recommended for the patient’s comfort.
- Two days after placement – The first several days after placement of braces can be slightly uncomfortable. This is because the teeth are beginning to level and align from the pressure of the archwire. You will be provided with relief wax to apply over the braces as necessary. Wax helps provide a smooth surface and alleviates irritation on the inner cheeks and lips. Additionally, over-the-counter pain medication (ie; Motrin® and Advil®) may be taken as directed to relieve mild soreness.
- One week after placement – After the first week, any initial discomfort associated with the braces should be significantly better. The teeth will have gradually acclimated to the braces, and eating should be much easier. Certain hard foods may still pose a challenge, but normal eating may be resumed at this point.
- Orthodontic appointments – Regular, monthly orthodontic appointments are necessary to allow the orthodontist to change the archwire, change the rubber or metal ties, and make adjustments to the braces. Fixed braces work by gradually moving the teeth into a new and proper alignment, so gentle pressure needs to be applied constantly. The first several days after an orthodontic adjustment may be slightly uncomfortable, but remember that this discomfort will quickly fade.
- Dealing with discomfort – Over-the-counter pain medication and orthodontic relief wax will help alleviate any mild soreness and discomfort following placement of braces and orthodontic adjustments. We also recommend colder treats, such as ice cream and smoothies to ease the ache.
Brushing with Braces
Brushing and flossing with braces can be a challenge. When the braces are placed, we will review how to achieve proper home care with helpful brushing and flossing techniques. Samples of all of the necessary supplies will be provided to your child at each visit.
During the monthly adjustment appointments, we ask our patients to visit our Brushing Station to brush and floss without the wires in place. We hold our patients to a very high standard of home care and will monitor carefully for signs of plaque/tarter build up or decalcifications. With braces, we recommend one additional dental cleaning per year and a nightly fluoride rinse regiment.
The better the hygiene, the more efficient and comfortable your treatment will be!
The brackets, bands, wires and ligature ties all work together to gently align the teeth. It is important to follow all limitations and instructions to ensure a successful and timely treatment.
With braces, we recommend avoiding popcorn and all sticky and chewy foods, especially candies and bubble gum. To help avoid broken brackets or split wires, we will also review a better fashion in which to eat with braces; ie; cutting meat off the bone, corn off of the cob, having any hard foods in small bite size pieces etc.
During any contact activities, we highly recommend a “braces safe” mouth guard be worn. The mouth guard will help to protect the teeth, lips and cheeks from injury. We will provide you with a special mouth guard for braces.
Compliance is Key
Often times with braces there is a component of removable elastic wear to better coordinate the bite. The success of the elastic wear is based solely on patient compliance. The elastics should be thought of as part of the braces, and although removable, they should be attached at all times. The only acceptable time for the elastics to be disconnected is while eating and brushing.