The ‘braces process’ is a complex one. There are several steps involved and only at the end of a year or two, you can enjoy the perfect alignment and a healthy bite. The following is a brief overview of the entire braces process and what it entails:
Finding an Orthodontist
The first step is to find an orthodontist. You may have a regular dentist, but it is not necessary that the dentist you visit frequently also specializes in orthodontics. You need somebody who knows how to fix your bite, correct the alignment of your teeth, prevent occlusion, etc. If your regular dentist also happens to be an orthodontist, that is great. If not, they will refer you to an orthodontist where you can get started with your dental treatment.
Alternately, if you do not have a regular dentist but suspect that you may need braces, you can always contact an orthodontist on your own and make an appointment.
Getting a Consult
Once you have set an appointment with your orthodontist, the next step is to get a consult. This involves your doctor examining your teeth, taking out scans if required and figuring out the problem and the appropriate course of treatment. There’s a chance that the orthodontist will take a mold of your teeth so that they can get a 3D understanding of what’s going on in there.
If you have misalignment issues, it is not necessary that you have to go through a period of wearing braces. There are some issues that can be left alone or treated differently if they are not threatening to become worse or impede your bite. Your doctor will know the course of treatment best.
Figuring out a Plan
Once your orthodontist has studied your scans and the mold of your teeth, they can move on to figuring out an appropriate plan for you. There are quite a few different types of braces and your orthodontist is likely to pick from within these options, depending on the extent of work your teeth require. The following are some common dental treatments:
Traditional braces or conventional metallic braces are the most common types of braces you will see. These are the braces that an orthodontist may prescribe if you have severe misalignment or are dealing with overcrowding. These braces have metal brackets cemented on each teeth and then connected through a metal wire. There are also elastic ligatures which are used to tighten the braces.
Ceramic braces are the same as traditional metal braces, but the main difference, as the name suggests, is that instead of metal, the brackets are made of ceramic. The brackets may be clear or the same color as your teeth, making the braces less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Even the ligatures are the same color as your teeth but they are porous and may be prone to staining.
There are also self-ligating ceramic braces which use memory wires to connect the slide brackets, allowing the braces to move and tighten as the teeth align correctly. These type of braces are said to be more comfortable than traditional metal braces as they do not apply as much pressure on the teeth from frequent adjusting and tightening of the braces.
Lingual braces are metal braces that are placed on the inside of the teeth instead of outside. These are also called ‘invisible braces’ as they are hardly noticeable from the outside and work discreetly. These braces are so called because they are facing the tongue (lingual). They are slightly more complex to put in place as that area of the mouth is harder to access. Your orthodontist will place each metal bracket of the braces simultaneously with the help of a customized tray. This is in contrast from traditional braces, where the metal brackets are placed one after the other instead of simultaneously. These braces are also harder to adjust and clean.
Aligners are not exactly braces in the traditional sense. These are clear, flexible molds for your teeth which apply pressure where required so the alignment can be fixed. Aligners are useful if you have mild misalignment and other non-severe problems. They are also suitable only for older teenagers and adults, not for children. Aligners are removable and need to be worn for 22 hours a day. You will have to replace the aligners with fresh ones every week or two. Clear aligners are also hardly discernible and are preferred by those who feel conscious about having a metal smile.
Placing the Braces
The next step, after figuring out the course of treatment, is to place the braces and start the treatment. It may take an hour or two for the entire process to be over and the first time you get braces may be a little unpleasant. It will take you a few days for you to get used to the feeling of wearing braces.
Maintenance and Doctor Visits
The next step is to take care of your braces. Depending on the type of treatment you are undergoing, your doctor will ask you to come into the clinic and get your braces adjusted. Traditional metal braces need to be adjusted and tightened often so you will need to make frequent appointments to get that done. If you have self-ligating braces, they may require fewer follow up appointments.
It is also important to keep the braces or aligners clean by brushing and flossing regularly. You may also need to be on certain dietary restrictions to avoid getting food stuck on the brackets or staining the ligatures.
Finally, your braces will be removed at the end of your treatment, the duration of which will be decided based on the extent of work required and the type of treatment chosen. Once your braces are removed, you may have to wear retainers for a few weeks or months to ensure your teeth do not lapse back to the original alignment.
The getting braces process is a long and arduous process. At times it can be painful and uncomfortable, but the final result will give you a better bite and allow you to enjoy any kind of food. You also do not need to worry about tooth decay because of overcrowding or misalignment. Call your orthodontist today!