Dental braces have been in use in dentistry for a long time to treat orthodontic issues such as crowded and crooked teeth, misaligned teeth, irregular spaces between the teeth, etc., which can cause bite irregularities, besides spoiling your smile. Braces are made up of brackets and wires that apply gentle but continuous pressure on the teeth to eventually align them properly. The traditional metal dental braces can look a bit ugly, which results in a stigma being associated with metal braces. Many people with orthodontic issues used to avoid braces for this reason. In recent years, a few new types of braces and clear aligners have been introduced that can be used to treat dental issues and remain less noticeable or almost invisible.
Consult an Orthodontist
The first step to getting braces is to consult an orthodontist. The orthodontist will examine your teeth, take X-rays and maybe even create a plaster model of your teeth to determine the extent and seriousness of the dental issues. This will help the orthodontist decide which type of braces is ideal for your condition. For most types of orthodontic issues, all types of braces can be used in the treatment, with the only difference between each type being the length of the treatment period. For example, metal braces always work the fastest, while lingual braces take much longer. However, for the most severe cases of dental issues, metal braces are the only option. The other types of braces can’t be used. So, find out what your orthodontist suggests.
Metal and ceramic braces are fitted in the same way, but the procedure to fit lingual braces is quite different. First let’s look at the procedure for metal and ceramic braces. The orthodontist will clean your teeth and then dry them. A bonding glue will be applied to the next. Next, the brackets will be attached using the glue, followed by placing the archwire in the bracket. Finally, the entire structure will be secured with tiny elastic bands that are known as ligatures. This process can take up to 2 hours.
In case of lingual braces, it’s quite different. Firstly, lingual braces are custom made in a lab. So, the orthodontist will take impressions of your teeth and the braces will be made with computer aided manufacturing. This process can take up to 6 weeks in some cases. Once the braces are ready, you will have to visit the orthodontist. Lingual braces consists of individual brackets for each teeth, which will have to be fitted individually.
For all types of braces, over the first couple of weeks you will be constantly feeling for the brackets and wires and, in the process, your tongue and cheeks might feel a bit sore. This is heightened in case of lingual braces, because the brackets are placed behind the teeth.
How to Deal with the Pain?
Fitting the braces doesn’t hurt, but as mentioned you will experience a certain degree of soreness during the first week or two.
- You can apply orthodontic wax over the brackets to ease the soreness. Simply apply the wax with a finger over the brackets. Your orthodontist should have this at the clinic or else you can pick it up at the pharmacy.
- If the pain or soreness is particularly pronounced, you can have low-intensity pain killers.
- For the first couple of days you should try to eat soft or liquid foods such as soups, milkshakes, yogurt, scrambled eggs, etc.
- Strictly avoid all types acidic foods and drinks such as citrus fruit juices, food items with tomato ketchup or sauce, etc. These will further inflame the sore spots.
- You will be constantly tempted to touch the sore spots inside the mouth, your teeth and the brackets and wires with your tongue or fingers. But you will have to consciously try and avoid doing this as much as possible. The more you touch them, the more irritation you will feel. You will also probably mistakenly bite your cheeks while eating as you get used to the braces. This is normal and will heal quickly.
- If you face problems falling asleep at night due to the soreness and irritation, you can use an over-the-counter (OTC) anesthetic, which will temporarily numb the sore spots and help you fall asleep. You pour a bit on a cotton swab and slowly dab the sore spots inside the mouth. It will dissolve by morning, when you should rinse your mouth thoroughly.
- For soreness on the lips and gums, you can mix a little bit of salt in lukewarm water and rinse the lips and gums multiple times during the day.
- Typically, you should get used to the braces by the end of the first month and a few months down the line you will stop noticing it completely. It will feel like a part of your mouth. Once in a while, the teeth might hurt for a short period even after many months. This is normal, so don’t worry. If the pain increases have pain killers.
Cleaning the Braces
Maintaining oral hygiene is vital during the course of your orthodontic treatment. You have spent quite a bit of money for the treatment and being complacent about oral hygiene will have consequences. It’s inevitable that food particles with get stuck in the brackets and wires. You have to clean these regularly. Brush your teeth twice and day and floss daily to get rid of these obstinate food particles. You will probably have to buy a slim-head soft-bristled toothbrush for this purpose and an interproximal floss to reach the food particles stuck between the teeth. Ignoring this can lead to tooth decay. Also, during the course of the treatment avoid eating out as much as possible and avoid sticky foods like dessert.
Now You Know How to Get Braces!
Orthodontic treatment is expensive. So, it’s incumbent upon you to be disciplined and responsible during the length of the treatment period. Typically, orthodontic treatments last for about 24 months and during this period the after-care process will feel tiring, but you need to stick to it for the best results.