You have decided it’s time for you or your child to get braces. While the thought of having braces can be scary at any age, knowing what to expect ahead of time can make it easier.
Don’t expect it to hurt when they are being put on. Having braces put on your teeth is essentially painless.
Expect your mouth to hurt a little bit after the braces are applied. Despite all the new technological advances in orthodontics, no one has come up with a way to make it completely pain-free. A few hours after you have your braces put in, your teeth may start hurting. This mild pain can last a few days and can reoccur after an adjustment, but an over-the-counter pain reliever can help.
You may also have a small sore or two on your lips or gums for the first couple days as your mouth gets used to the wires and brackets. A warm saltwater rinse can help alleviate the discomfort and your orthodontist can give you wax to apply to keep your mouth from getting irritated.
Expect your teeth to feel loose. In order for them to end up in the right place, your teeth will have to be loose to move. After your teeth are in the right place and your braces are removed, your teeth will feel sturdy again.
Expect to change what you eat. When you first get your braces, soft foods will be best. Some good options are yogurt, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, applesauce and lunchmeat. Avoid sandwiches because they’ll be hard to bite and chew.
Throughout your treatment, you’ll want to steer clear of foods that will stick easily to braces, like bagels, popcorn and soft candies. Hard foods such as raw carrots and nuts can also be hard on braces. Corn on the cob and apples don’t have to be eliminated, but they will be easier to eat if they are cut off the cob or core first.
Expect to see your orthodontist on a regular basis. After your braces have been applied, your orthodontist will need to check your progress and make adjustments. These follow-up visits occur about every 8-10 weeks.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during these visits or express any concerns you might have, for example, if you feel something is loose or you’re unclear on how often to wear your headgear or rubber bands. Also, be sure to stock up on supplies (orthodontic wax, rubber bands, cleaning tools, etc.) during these visits so you don’t run out in between.
Expect to also see your dentist. Even though you are seeing your orthodontist on a regular basis, you still need to see your dentist. In fact, it’s even more important because plaque can accumulate in hard-to-reach places with braces. Increasing your dental appointments to every four months instead of six can help keep plaque build-up to a minimum.
Expect to continue doing what you do. You can still do all your normal activities, including playing sports or playing an instrument, you just need to adjust to doing them with braces. If you play a contact sport, wearing a mouth guard will help protect your shifting teeth. If you play an instrument, especially a brass instrument, it might take a few days to get used to the feeling of having braces between the mouthpiece and your teeth.
Expect to have braces for 18-24 months. This is the standard length of time for treatment with traditional metal braces. Invisalign is often the same, but there are shorter treatment plans available for less severe issues.
Expect to love your new smile! After all, this is the reason you’re doing braces in the first place, right?
If you or your child have any other questions about having braces, please feel free to call our office at (843) 4-BRACES. Our goal is to make having braces as easy as possible for all of our patients.