Preparing For Braces
Before placing braces on your teeth, you will need a check-up for decay or gum problems. Do visit your dentist regularly, even when you are on braces.
Braces: Fixed and Removable
Fixed braces consist of brackets and bands bonded or cemented to your teeth (to get a hold of them), and very thin metal wires that gently push your teeth into their right positions. The wire is tied into the brackets with a steel ligature or a coloured plastic ring. Some brackets such as Damon or other ‘self-ligating’ braces have clips to hold the wires and no ties are needed. Brackets can be made of metal or tooth-coloured ceramic or plastic. Ordinary fixed braces are bonded to the front of your teeth. There are also braces that can be bonded on the back of your teeth (lingual braces).
Removable braces refer to any appliance that can move teeth but are not glued onto the teeth. There are many types of removable braces, some of the common ones are clear aligner treatment, upper removable appliance (URA) or functional appliance.
Clear aligners such as Invisalign are clear removable plastic braces that are moulded according to the one’s teeth. A detailed impression or scans of the teeth are performed and the planned movements are designed into the plastic braces. Sequential clear aligners will gradually straighten teeth when worn about 20-22 hours a day. Clear aligner treatment has some advantages over fixed braces, they allow easier brushing of teeth as well as minimal changes to one’s diet. However the require discipline to comply with wearing the aligners. Clear aligners are less noticeable than fixed braces, though they require small attachments which are small plastic bumps glued onto the teeth to allow the plastic braces to grip the tooth better for more predictable movements.
Upper removable appliance or functional appliances are sometimes used when you are still growing or if you still have baby teeth left. Functional removable braces are used to change jaw growth to normalise your bite
Fixed Braces Treatment
Examination and dental records such as X-rays, photos and impressions for plaster study models of your teeth are done. Your orthodontist will plan your treatment using these records. Very often, permanent teeth are removed when they are crowded and there is not enough space in the jaws for all of them.
The extractions are done in conjunction with braces fitting appointments. Braces fitting appointments may take 2 or 3 visits and extractions are usually scheduled after the first and second braces appointments, but the final and third fitting of the braces is done after the all extractions are completed.
Your orthodontist will explain the treatment plan and the braces suitable for your condition. Before braces are fitted, separators (small plastic "doughnuts") are placed between your molars for a week to create spaces for the molar bands.
Third and Fourth Visits:
Bands are cemented and brackets are bonded to the front of your teeth.
Every 4 to 8 weeks, adjustments are made to the braces by way of wire-changers, adding springs, elastics or other accessories.
Accessories are necessary to make your braces work. Elastics are often used to get your upper and lower teeth to bite together properly. Facemask, headgear or biteplate are sometimes used with fixed braces. It is very important to use all accessories exactly as you have been told. Otherwise, progress of the treatment might stop or even reverse.
When Treatment is Completed
Your fixed braces will be removed at a deband appointment, followed by removal of cement and polishing of your teeth. Moulds of your teeth in their new positions are taken to make retainers. After your braces are removed, you will need retainers to hold your teeth in their new positions for the next few years.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
The normal period of treatment with fixed braces is 2 to 3 years. You will need to make time every 4 to 8 weeks for visit your orthodontist regularly if you wish for your treatment to finish well and on time.
How Will Braces Affect My Daily Life?
With regular fixed braces, speech is normally not affected at all. However, if your condition requires a palatal expander appliance to be fitted at the roof of your mouth, this may interfere with your speech. If you have lingual braces, you will take some time to learn to speak properly with the braces.
Playing musical instruments:
If you play a musical instrument with a mouthpiece, it will take you 1 to 2 weeks to become as skilful as before.
Brushing With Braces
With braces on, your teeth are more difficult to clean. Do not leave food on your braces. Brushing your teeth properly after every snack and meal will reduce the risk of decay and gum disease. In addition, 5 minutes of brushing are needed every morning and night. Have your toothbrush available to brush after meals as well as at your orthodontic visits. You can use disclosing solution to check if your teeth are clean. You will need to replace your toothbrush more often as it will wear out faster.
Eating and Diet Restrictions
Eating hard food or biting on large pieces of food may dislodge the brackets or bands and damage the wires. Avoid eating nuts and biting on nails or pencils. Do cut hard fruits into small and thin pieces before eating them. Avoid food and drinks with high sugar content such as sweets and soft drinks.
Pain and Discomfort
It takes up to one week to get accustomed to your braces. Initially, your cheeks and tongue will chafe from rubbing against the brackets and bands; apply some orthodontic wax on sharp corners to help ease the initial discomfort. Your teeth will also feel sore but you will get used to your braces in a couple of days. After each adjustment of the braces, you will also feel some discomfort as your teeth start to move.
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