It’s time to get your braces. You’re excited to start making progress toward your perfect smile, but you’re also a little nervous. You’re not quite sure what to expect. Here’s a little preview of what life with braces will be like.
Getting Braces Placed
For some patients, the first step to getting braces involves creating space between the back teeth so that bands can be placed. Your first appointment will be to place separators (or spacers). These are small pieces of elastic placed in between your back molars. They spread the molars just slightly away from each other, so that there will be room for bands to fit around the back teeth.
Your next visit, to get your braces placed, is usually a week after the separators appointment (if they are needed). Your mouth will be held open with a special plastic mouth guard during this appointment and your teeth will be cleaned and dried thoroughly. Next, the brackets are attached to your teeth using a special type of dental adhesive (glue). A special light is used that speeds up the time it takes for the adhesive to dry and the brackets to set.
Your mouth will be rinsed with water and the mouth guard removed. This will be the first time you will feel the braces on your teeth. Most people describe this as “weird,” because your lips and tongue will feel something on the teeth that they never felt before. The last step is to attach an archwire to the brackets. For some types of braces, the wire may simply snap into place in the brackets; for others, the orthodontist will attach the wire to the brackets using special elastic bands. You can choose from several colors for the elastic bands.
You’ll visit your orthodontist about every six weeks throughout your treatment for an adjustment to your braces. Each adjustment visit will get your teeth to their final, corrected position. If your braces use elastic bands, you can choose new colors at each appointment or just get a fresh set of the same color you picked the last visit; some of our patients really enjoy choosing their band colors each visit.
Caring For Your Braces
During your orthodontic treatment, you should be able to eat and drink as usual with some exceptions. For a day or two after an adjustment visit, your mouth may feel sore, and you will probably prefer soft foods. Throughout your treatment, you’ll need to avoid sticky foods, such as taffy and caramel, because they can pull the brackets right off your teeth. Very hard foods may also break the brackets off your teeth or shift the wires when you chew. Biting into crunchy, hard things using your front teeth should also be avoided. We recommend cutting food like apples and carrots into smaller pieces and using the back teeth to chew.
You’ll need to be extra diligent about your oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment with braces. If you’re not, then you will be at a higher risk of getting cavities, gum problems, bad breath, and white spots on your teeth. Make sure that you brush at least twice a day, with special focus on the areas around the brackets. Also make sure you floss every day. Getting around the archwires may require a special flosser (we will give you one). Brushing and flossing with braces may take longer and seem like a hassle, but you’re working toward a perfect smile, so it’s very important to care of your teeth!
How Long Will They Stay On?
The length of treatment with braces depends on how much your teeth need to be moved and in which directions. On average, it’s about 12 to 24 months, though some people need less than a year of treatment while other, more complex, cases may go over two years. (With accelerated orthodontics, your treatment time could be half as long, or even shorter.) Your orthodontist can give you an idea of how long you can expect to have your braces on. But don’t mark the date on your calendar right away; your orthodontist will evaluate you throughout treatment, and you may get your braces off a little sooner or a little later than expected.
Sometimes, unexpected things happen during treatment, like a bracket coming loose. Most of the time, it’s not really an emergency, and there’s no need to worry. See our Orthodontic Emergencies page to learn what to do.
Getting Your Braces Off
At one of your regular appointments, your orthodontist will tell you that the braces will likely be ready for removal at the next appointment.
When it’s time to take the braces off, your orthodontist will use special pliers to remove the brackets, and any remaining glue will be polished off your teeth. If you’re getting a removable retainer, your orthodontist will place it and make any necessary adjustments. You’ll need to wear it full-time (except when eating and brushing your teeth) for the first few months after treatment and then at night for the long-term. In other cases, you’ll get a fixed retainer, which is a wire attached to the back of your teeth (where it can’t be seen).
Even though you’ll be excited to get your braces off and you may not want to wear an appliance in your mouth, it’s extremely important to wear your retainer as instructed, because otherwise your teeth will slip back towards their old positions and some of your hard work during treatment will be lost. During the first few months after the braces are removed, there’s a very high chance that the teeth will slip back towards their old positions if the retainer is not worn nearly full-time. It’s not uncommon for adults to seek orthodontic treatment because they had braces as a teen, didn’t wear their retainers, and had their teeth slip back out of alignment. Take care of your new smile – you earned it!
Have You Found Your Orthodontist Yet?
Choosing the right orthodontist is crucial for the success of your treatment. You want someone who trained in the top orthodontic programs, but who’s also warm and caring, able to put you at ease and to truly hear your questions and concerns. At Avenue Orthodontics, we’re lucky enough to have two orthodontists exactly like this. From our office in Whitestone, Dr. Eleni and Dr. Abraham serve Queens, Long Island, and other surrounding areas. Patients come to us because they’ve heard from friends and family about how much we truly care. Come to us for a free consultation and initial exam, and experience the security of knowing that you’re in the very best hands.