Getting braces may seem intimidating, but you don’t have to look at them that way. For many people, braces are a natural part of life and after about two years, you end up with great teeth and an amazing smile. It can be a positive and rewarding experience. That’s what this guide is for: to answer all your questions, make you feel as comfortable as possible, and turn an anxious experience into a positive one. If you’ve ever found yourself asking, ‘What does wearing braces feel like?’, then this is the guide for you.
What To Expect When Getting Braces
Knowledge can go a long way in removing any discomfort or anxiety. Getting braces is a big decision and you definitely want to know as much as possible before undergoing treatment. These are some of the most commonly asked questions by people about to get braces.
How long does getting braces usually take?
Getting braces usually takes between 1-2 hours. This includes the teeth cleaning, the actual attachment of the braces, the placement of wires in the brackets, and the giving of care and cleaning instructions. First, the dentist will clean and dry your teeth to prepare them for orthodontic bonding. This ensures that the bonding glue used to attach braces to your teeth work effectively.
Which takes us to the next step: the application of the bonding glue or orthodontic adhesive. This glue is completely harmless. The dentist will brush it on the backs of the brackets, which will then be placed on each tooth. The entire bonding process takes around 10-20 minutes.
After the glue hardens, the dentist will now attach the archwire in your brackets and secure everything in place with elastics. At this point, you will feel your braces constantly pushing on your teeth. This is normal: the braces are working. If you feel pain instead of mild discomfort, then you should consult your dentist because your braces might need adjusting. After all that, the dentist will you give instructions on the proper care of your braces. You’re done!
Does wearing braces change the shape of your face?
As your braces change the position of your teeth, your appearance may also change. This is natural and shouldn’t be a cause for worry. In fact, braces may even help change your appearance for the better by fixing certain bite problems.
Braces fix problems such as underbites, overbites, crooked teeth, and open bites (when the mouth looks stretched). Underbites can cause your chin to jut out unnaturally – when fixed, your facial features will soften. Braces can also correct overbites by changing the look of your jaw and teeth so they appear more equalized. For people with crooked teeth, braces fix the spacing and alignment of the teeth so they appear straighter. Finally, braces can also correct open bites, so the mouth has a more natural and pleasing appearance.
Does getting or wearing braces hurt?
Expect slight discomfort but no pain. People are sometimes leery of getting braces because they expect the process to be painful. While an understandable anxiety, this is still an unproven fear. Getting or wearing braces does not hurt. Naturally, at first, you will experience some discomfort as you get used to wearing them. Your teeth and gums may feel sore. However, the soreness should pass within a month (sometimes even a week) as you adjust and you can ease the discomfort by eating soft foods or taking over-the-counter pain relievers. If the soreness lingers for more than a month, or if you experience pain, then you should schedule an appointment with your dentist to fix the problem.
How long will I have to wear braces?
While typical treatments last two years, some people wear braces for longer. The length of time you need to wear braces depends on your teeth. Treatment times vary from patient to patient because all mouths are unique, but most people generally wear braces for two years. More severe cases will need to wear braces longer than the average. Treatment duration can also vary according to the type of braces you wear and also your age. Some braces types like Invisalign simply work faster to straighten teeth or correct bites than others. However, these braces types are not compatible with everyone.
Age is also a factor. Children and teenagers generally have faster treatments than adults because their jaws are still in the process of growing and can be easily manipulated by the braces. It may take a little longer for adults to get the smile they want.
How To Take Care Of Your Braces
Maintenance is an important part of wearing braces – and one you definitely shouldn’t neglect. Apart from monthly checkups with your dentist, you should also take routinely check your braces for food particles or any loose or damaged parts.
What foods can I eat?
This is probably the most common question people ask after getting braces. And for good reason. The consequences of eating the wrong food run the gamut between simple fixes (food gets stuck to your braces) and not-so-simple problems (a bracket gets damaged and needs to be replaced).
For at least two days after you get your braces, your mouth will still feel tender. You will still adjusting to the constant pressure of the braces, so it’s best to stick to soft foods that won’t intensify your discomfort. That means soup, yogurt, applesauce, scrambled eggs – even mac and cheese. Afterwards, you’re free to eat other foods… with some exceptions.
Foods you should avoid eating: As much as possible, avoid hard foods. Nuts, hard candies, and even raw vegetables like carrots will damage your braces. Also avoid sticky or chewy foods such as gum, caramel, and licorice that easily get stuck in your teeth. Corn is also a no-go. Crunchy foods like chips should also be avoided. Try to avoid biting foods with your front teeth, and cut up certain hard foods like burgers or fruit so you can eat them easier.
How do I floss wearing braces?
Daily flossing is an essential element of braces care. Flossing removes the excess food that might get stuck in your braces, including carbohydrates that contain sugars. If the excess food is left too long, cavities may form in your teeth. You definitely don’t want to risk that.
Flossing can be a little tricky at first, but we’ve got some tips to help you get the hang of it. First, remember to use waxed floss, dental tape, or another product made specifically for cleaning braces. Whatever you do, don’t use unwaxed floss. They’ll either get caught or shredded on your braces.
Now for the actual cleaning process. Carefully thread the floss under the main wire of your braces before gently flossing up and down between two teeth. Remove the floss and repeat the previous step on the next pair of teeth. And so on. Be sure to be thorough as you go. The keys to flossing while wearing braces are patience and attentiveness.
What should I do if I get a loose or broken bracket, wire or band?
Sometimes despite how careful you are, you may end up with a loose or broken bracket, wire, or band. The best thing that you can do when this happens is to schedule an appointment with your dentist to fix the problem. In the meantime, here are some temporary solutions you can use at home to relieve any pain you’re feeling from the loose or broken piece.
A common problem people experience is a broken or protruding wire. If this happens to you, whatever you do, do not cut the wire. This is extremely dangerous. You might accidentally swallow or inhale the wire bits. Instead, try moving it to a less uncomfortable position with the eraser end of a pencil.
Some pieces can be reattached. In the case of loose brackets, re-attach them temporarily using the orthodontic wax provided by your dentist. The wax can also be used as a buffer between the loose bracket and your gums, other soft tissues, or even mouth sores, should they develop. Other pieces, like loose bands, cannot be reattached with orthodontic wax. You will need to see your dentist to replace or re-cement them. If possible, keep the band – your dentist may be able to recement it.