While adults do sometimes need braces, typically it’s our kids who need them. Braces are most often applied from the pre-teen to teen years and may stay on for two to three years on average. Some kids are excited about getting their teeth straightened, but others may be apprehensive. If your child is worried about braces, it may help them to better understand the procedure and the benefits
Why You Need Braces
If your teeth are crooked, you’re not alone. It’s very common. If you look at your classmates at school, you’ll likely see that many of them don’t have straight teeth either, and some may already have or have had braces.
When our teeth grow in crooked, it’s called a malocclusion, which comes from a Latin word that just means ‘bad bite’. It’s important to understand that your teeth will not straighten on their own as you grow older. In fact, just the opposite. Left untreated, your teeth will likely only get more crooked.
Fortunately, braces can fix this by gradually straightening your teeth over time. A braces specialist is called an orthodontist, and they spend years in school learning how to make your teeth straight.
How Does it Work?
The orthodontist will glue anchors to your teeth and then attach a wire that runs along your top and bottom teeth through the anchors. This allows the orthodontist to use your entire row of teeth as an anchor to straighten individual teeth. Tiny rubber bands are used to hold the wire to the anchor. By changing the tension on the anchors, we can very gradually force your teeth to straighten.
The glue on the anchors is very strong and if you’re careful the anchors will stay in place for your entire treatment. Don’t worry if one comes loose, though. This sometimes happens, and your orthodontist can easily reattach it. On the day your braces come off, your orthodontist will use a special tool to remove the anchors safely and painlessly.
Sometimes we need to make room in your mouth for your teeth to straighten. We do this by removing one or more teeth, usually your wisdom teeth – the very back molars. We make every effort to make the extractions as painless as possible, and your mouth will work just fine without these unneeded teeth.
Does it Hurt?
The honest answer is ‘a little’, but usually only for a day or two after the orthodontist adjusts the tension on your braces. This has to be done every four to six weeks throughout your treatment. You might experience some discomfort during this time, but it will quickly fade, and your teeth will soon feel normal again.
Do I Have to be a ‘Metal Mouth’?
You may have friends with metal braces or have seen pictures of braces that are made of silvery metal, and you might not want to walk around for two or more years with that on your teeth. Fortunately, there are other options. We can provide braces that are clear or that match the color of your teeth. You can have some fun with your braces too with different funky colors of elastics.
If you’re older and your mouth is fully developed, we might also recommend Invisalign. Invisalign aren’t really braces. They are a clear mold or tray you wear except for when eating or cleaning your teeth. The Invisalign trays are nearly invisible, and treatment takes about the same amount of time as it does with regular braces.
Living With Braces
While you have your braces on, you might sometimes feel a little embarrassed about them, especially if you’re getting them earlier or later than your friends. This is normal, but try not to let it bother you. Braces are very common. In fact, almost 1 in 3 kids will end up with braces at some point, and plenty of adults have braces too.
At first, your braces may be a little uncomfortable, and you might find you’ll get small sores in your cheeks or tongue from the braces rubbing against them. Your mouth will soon toughen up and these sore spots will go away. In the meantime, your orthodontist can give you a special wax to put on the parts of your braces that are rubbing against your mouth.
The biggest change you’ll have to get used to is not biting into things like apples, and having to cut your food finer, so you’re not having to bite off chunks. Biting into tough or hard foods while wearing braces can cause the anchors to snap off, and you’ll need to go see your orthodontist to have them put back on. You can still have all the same foods you like now, but you may have to cut them up before eating them.
Keeping Your Teeth Clean with Braces
You’ll also have to put extra care into keeping your teeth clean. Braces are really good at catching food and trapping it in the braces or against your teeth. This can cause bad breath and tooth decay, not to mention bits of food showing when you smile. Ewww. Gross.