When a person
is referred to an orthodontist, they first undergo a
consultation that involves an initial examination, discussion of
dental history and review of X-rays of their teeth and mouth.
This helps the orthodontist determine whether the condition is
serious enough to require dental braces, if so, what the most
appropriate treatment is, and how long it will take. Sometimes,
an orthodontist may feel that another treatment option will not
only correct the problem, but fit the person's needs much
braces are placed, a cheek retractor is used to keep the teeth
visible and dry during the procedure. The teeth are first
polished to ensure that the brackets will bond properly, after
which they are air-dried.
is used on the front surfaces of the teeth for 30 seconds to
further prepare them for bonding of the brackets. This is
cleaned off, the teeth are dried, and an adhesive primer is
placed on the teeth to enhance the bonding process.
placed on the back of the brackets, which are then applied to
the predetermined positions on the teeth. Once the brackets are
in place, excess cement is removed, and the brackets are
hardened into place with a high-intensity light. The retractor
is removed, and the dental arch wires are then put into place.
process of bonding the brackets and placing the arch wires can
take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. The length of time is often
determined by the time it takes to position the components
correctly in order to treat the person's specific condition.
braces are first placed and then later adjusted, you can expect
to feel some tightness, which typically progresses to soreness,
for approximately four to six hours after your appointment. This
soreness is a direct result of arch wires tightening the teeth
into position. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are
recommended to help relieve this pain. You can expect the
soreness to decrease in about three to five days.
dental braces are in place, regular adjustment appointments are
necessary. This is because the elastic ties holding the wires in
proper place stretch and weaken over time. Without adjustments,
the wires would be incapable of creating the proper pressure to
correct the dental issues requiring treatment.
adjustment appointments, your orthodontist also has the
opportunity to evaluate the movement of your teeth and the
progress made. This allows for recommendations that may improve
the final outcome of the treatment plan.
It takes a
minimum of three to four weeks for tooth movement to occur,
meaning that many adjustment appointments are made every four to
six weeks. With the newer wires available today, however,
adjustments may be required less frequently, since they tend to
provide longer working ranges.
appointments involve removing the colored elastic ties which
hold the dental braces in place. The arch wires also are removed
so that you may brush and floss your teeth thoroughly. Your
orthodontist will then check treatment progress and recommend
new wires and bands. If alternative treatment options are
available at this time, your orthodontist will discuss them with
you. New wires and elastics are then placed to continue moving
the teeth and proceed with treatment.
braces are adjusted, you can expect to feel some tightness,
typically progressing to soreness that lasts for approximately
four to six hours after the adjustment procedure. This soreness
is a direct result of the replacement wires tightening the teeth
into position. OTC pain relievers are suggested to help relieve
this pain, which is the same as when your dental braces were
When dental braces are in place, it is
important to maintain proper
oral hygiene and avoid certain types
of food. Inadequate brushing may lead to damage of the enamel,
so it is very important to brush at least three times a day.
Many orthodontists suggest carrying a tooth brush with you so
that you may brush your teeth after lunch while at work or
Interdental brushes and a water pik should
be used to clean underneath the dental arch wires for even
better oral hygiene.
Fluoride mouth rinses are also
recommended to maintain the underlying enamel and tooth
also suggest diets which avoid sticky foods, since they can
become stuck under the braces and possibly cause detachment.
Hard foods and candy also should be avoided; they may break the
bond between the brackets and the enamel, or possibly the braces
Foods such as
apples should be cut into pieces to avoid damaging the dental
braces. Avoid foods and drinks with high sugar and acid content,
since they make oral hygiene much more difficult and could lead
to enamel damage.
Braces & Aftercare
orthodontist determines that your treatment is complete, your
dental braces will be removed with a simple and relatively
painless process. The bond between the brackets and your teeth
is safely and gently broken. When the bases of the brackets are
squeezed, the adhesive bond releases, and the brackets are
are ready for removal, a mold of your teeth is taken and sent to
the laboratory, and an appointment is made for retainer
removable orthodontic appliances which are necessary during the
"retention period" of orthodontic treatment. During this stage
of treatment, the teeth are relatively unstable and must be
retained to provide proper completion of treatment.
is specifically made for your mouth. During the first six months
following the removal of dental braces, it is often necessary
for someone to wear the retainer full time. After this period,
the retainer may only need to be worn at night, but this time is
determined at the orthodontist's discretion.
will still visit your general dentist for regular check-ups and
cleanings throughout your braces treatment, once your braces are
removed, you should see your regular dentist for a teeth
cleaning. Your orthodontist will clean any left-over adhesive
off your teeth and the area where the braces were, but it is
important to have a thorough oral cleaning after the dental
braces are removed.
orthodontic technologies have made dental braces much more
viable for adults and teens who do not want to deal with
conventional wires or brackets and the look of hardware.
Additionally, if a patient is a good candidate for these new
innovations, they now can expect reduced treatment time —
sometimes as little as a few months, depending on the severity
of each patient, though some conditions may still require a
patient to wear dental braces for a year or more.
advancement, Invisalign, uses a system of clear custom aligners
which gradually move your teeth to correct spacing and crowding
issues. The aligners are made of a flexible, clear, thin
material which fits tightly over the teeth. These aligners are
changed periodically to continue moving your teeth into their
proper, corrected position. In addition to being unnoticeable,
the clear aligners also are removable, which allows patients to
remove them when eating and to thoroughly clean their teeth.
technologies, the means by which the clear aligner treatments
are planned, also enable many orthodontists to anticipate and
plan ideal tooth positions, allowing for an even greater
reduction in treatment time for both teens and adults.
Authored By: Allison DiMatteo
Reviewed By:Gary Hirsh, DDS, MS