Orthodontic treatment, which offers a variety of techniques and procedures to realign the teeth and jaw, is common among adolescents and even adults. Especially for the adolescent, there may be many questions about the whole process. Parents may also have a few questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions about the before and after of getting braces.
Why is Orthodontic Treatment Necessary?
Crooked, crowded teeth and teeth that are too widely spaced create all kinds of dental problems. They may affect your ability to clean the teeth properly, increase the risk of tooth decay and cause uneven tooth wear. Jaw problems like overbites and underbites can lead to tooth or jaw pain and headaches. None of these problems will go away with time – they require orthodontia. It’s also important to recognize that orthodontic treatment takes at least one and more often two or three years; be prepared for multiple appointments.
What Are the First Steps?
A consultation and assessment are the beginning of the orthodontic treatment process. The orthodontist will determine what problems the child has, make recommendations and develop a treatment plan. You have many treatment options today – traditional systems, lingual systems, ceramic vs. metal and the plastic aligner system called Invisalign. This is also the time to discuss finances; the treatment plan and length of treatment affect the cost. Your child will need X-rays of the teeth and mouth and will have impressions made of the teeth that will be used in developing the treatment plan or making the Invisalign aligners.
Does Getting Braces Hurt?
Putting on the brackets and wires takes a bit of time but is not painful. The brackets must be glued to individual teeth, while an archwire and/or rubber bands are attached to the brackets; these are what actually move the teeth. Over the next few days, it can be uncomfortable, as the teeth are beginning to move. Each time your child has an orthodontic adjustment, there may be discomfort for a few days afterward. The discomfort is not serious and can be managed with over-the-counter medications.
What About Dietary Restrictions?
In the first few days after the brackets and wires are applied, a soft diet may help with any discomfort. With metal or ceramic brackets and wires, certain foods are usually off the menu, because they increase the risk of breakage or tooth decay. These include popcorn and may include corn or the cob or whole apples (both these foods are fine when cut up), as well as brittle, sticky, gooey foods like hard candies or coffee. Sodas/soft drinks are not a good choice, partly because they tend to be high in sugar and partly because they are high in acid, both of which have negative effects on the teeth. Removable plastic aligners mean no dietary restrictions, as the aligner is taken out for the meal.
What About Oral Hygiene?
Your child will continue to brush and floss and to see the dentist for a preventive cleaning. Regular floss can be harder to use, but there are specific products made for people who are having orthodontic treatment. Daily oral hygiene may take a little bit more time.
What Will I Look Like?
That depends. Traditional metal braces are quite visible. This can be turned into an advantage by using colorful rubber bands or other customizable additions. Some children choose the colors of their school or favorite sports team, or themes to fit certain holidays or seasons. Ceramic brackets are less visible than metal brackets. Lingual systems are fitted to the inside of the teeth and are not very noticeable. The plastic aligner is pretty much invisible and many people will not even know you’re wearing it. It can also be removed for special occasions like the prom or senior pictures.
Will I Need a Lot of Appointments?
In most cases, an appointment about once a month is the norm. This may change depending on your child’s response to treatment. Aligner systems require less frequent appointments. And of course, you’ll still need regular checkups and dental cleanings.
How About the Removal Process?
Removing brackets is quite easy – the orthodontist just pulls them off with a special tool. There is no pain associated with removal. It may take a little bit of extra time to remove the glue that held the brackets, but again, it doesn’t hurt. It may take a few days to get used to the difference in the way the teeth and mouth feel.
Will I Need A Retainer?
In most cases, yes. The teeth have a tendency to shift back after they’ve been straightened and a retainer helps hold them in place until they solidify. Some children need to wear the retainer all the time, while others need it only at night. The retainer is necessary for at least a year, and in some cases, for several years.
Anything Else I Should Know?
Some children have white spots on the teeth because the exposed parts of the teeth have become stained. These will gradually disappear or the stains can be whitened. An Invisalign appliance can cause some pitting to occur; this can be filed down in a few minutes.
We find these to be the most common questions. If you have others, please don’t hesitate to call our office. We offer a variety of orthodontic treatments to meet your needs.
Call McDermott Orthodontics Today to Fix Your Smile
Dr. Michael McDermott is an orthodontist who offers treatments for adults at his facilities in Minnesota. You can learn more about orthodontic treatments by visiting one of these offices:
• Pequot Lakes – 218-568-5600
• Baxter – 218-829-1630
• Delano – 763-972-4444
• Brainerd – 218-829-1630
Adults can wear several types of orthodontic devices, including:
• Ceramic, Damon System or metallic braces
• Invisalign clear plastic aligners
• Retainers to keep teeth in place
Call McDermott Orthodontics today to schedule your free consultation to learn more about the AcceleDent Aura device.
What Your Child Should Expect Before and After Braces
13046 Falcon Drive
Baxter, MN 56425