Uneven smiles can negatively impact your appearance and mood. Smiling with confidence will seem more difficult if you have crooked, misaligned, or crowded teeth. Fortunately, dentists can help solve this problem with braces.

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Braces are wire-based devices that dentists use to straighten crooked or misaligned teeth, malocclusions, and other alignment problems. They are usually prescribed for children and teens. However, some people choose to have them later in life.

Why People Get Braces

Braces are not only for cosmetic purposes; they also benefit your oral health by correcting crooked and misaligned teeth that leave you susceptible to dental problems like:

  • Tooth Decay – Crooked teeth require extra care and cleaning. They have more nooks and crannies where food particles get stuck and are difficult to remove. This is especially true if you don’t floss regularly. These food particles make it easier for bacteria to thrive and accumulate, leading to plaque that eventually causes tooth decay.
  • Enamel Wear – Your upper and lower teeth may rub against each other if your bite isn’t perfect. It will eventually wear your teeth’s enamel down and cause cavities.
  • TMJ Disorder – Bad bites and crooked teeth make chewing difficult. It can strain your jaws and stress your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMJ disorders are difficult to treat because of the complexity of the joints.

What To Expect With Braces

When Getting Braces

  • Some people may need to wear spacers or separators before braces. They are placed between teeth, and will feel tight and sore as if food was trapped between your teeth.
  • The first brace fitting by an orthodontist won’t hurt.
  • An orthodontist usually attaches bands to the back molars; it’s uncomfortable but not painful.
  • Orthodontists usually etch or clean your teeth using a slightly sour solution after placing the bands after the molars. They’ll wash this solution off, then put some glue on your teeth’s surfaces. Some people don’t like the taste of the glue or etching solution.
  • The orthodontist will attach the brackets to each tooth using blue light to harden the glue.
  • Lastly, the orthodontist will connect all the brackets using a wire. They will attach each end of the wire to the bands at the back of your back molars and keep them in place using elastic bands.

While Wearing Braces

  • You may feel some discomfort and pain in the first few days. Some of the ways you can manage the pain include:
    • Wash your mouth with warm saltwater. Add one teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of warm water. Do it 2-3 times per day as recommended by dentists to reduce inflammation and irritation.
    • Use pain relief medications. Your dentist of South Pasadena can give you recommendations on what medications to use. You can also use over-the-counter medication to relieve the pain.
    • Avoid eating hard-to-eat foods. Prepare soft foods such as soups, mashed potatoes, and pudding.
    • Avoid eating hard, sticky, chewy, or sugary food. Corn on the cob and sticky, chewy sweets like caramel can loosen your brace’s brackets. Your braces will show staining if you eat acidic or sugary foods.
  • Soon, you won’t even notice your braces. However, they must be tightened as needed for them to work, depending on how you’re progressing. Your orthodontist may tighten them to:
    • Replace the wires
    • Tighten or place springs
    • Increase pressure on teeth and tighten the bands around braces
  • Some will feel the same discomfort when they first receive braces; some won’t be as uncomfortable. Some may feel pain in just their teeth and gums.

Removing Braces

  • Patients typically wear braces for one to three years. You may feel a little discomfort when your orthodontist removes them.
  • Your orthodontist will remove the wires, brackets, and bands and clean up any remaining glue.
  • You will need to wear retainers to keep your teeth in their new position.

How to Care for Braces

You need to adjust your oral care routine to care for your braces properly. Here are some tips for caring for braces:

Use an orthodontic toothbrush.

An orthodontic toothbrush is designed to remove plaque and prevent it from building up on your braces and teeth. You can still use a regular toothbrush, but make sure to reach between your braces. Dentists also recommend using an electric toothbrush; their oscillating feature helps remove plaque and reduce the chance of developing gingivitis.

Use an interdental toothbrush.

An interdental brush is thin and has short bristles that can clean between your braces’ wires; they are an essential tool in an oral care routine for braces. They can reach places your electric toothbrush or orthodontic toothbrush can’t.

Use floss threaders.

Floss threaders make flossing easier. It’s a flexible plastic piece that helps get floss through your teeth and wires.

Key Takeaway

Braces are an effective way to straighten teeth. Consult a dentist before getting them. Placing them won’t hurt as much. But when you’re already wearing them, you should expect discomfort and pain, especially in the first few days. Your orthodontist may tighten them when necessary for the braces to work.

Patients usually wear braces for a year to three years, depending on each patient’s case. You may also need to wear retainers after removing braces to keep your teeth in their new place.

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