Most people are familiar with braces – but they may not know how they work. Think of it this way: Just as a doctor uses medication to treat a patient, an orthodontist uses carefully planned, light forces. Braces are integrated systems that use gentle force to guide teeth into alignment. Here’s what they are comprised of:
Archwires- Thin wires that guide the teeth into the desired positions – think of them as the “track”.
Bands- Metal rings that secure the braces to the back teeth.
Brackets- Small squares that secure the archwires to the teeth, providing a “foothold” for each tooth.
Ligature Ties- Tiny rubber rings or fine wires that secure the archwires to the brackets.
Elastics- Rubber bands that help align the upper and lower teeth with respect to each other – a “turbocharger” for tooth movement!
Stainless steel braces are most common and have become smaller, more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing over time – you can even create your own color palette. But there are other types created to suit individual treatment and aesthetic preferences, too.
What to Expect
Do braces hurt? You should feel fine during an adjustment but might experience some discomfort for a few days thereafter. Over-the-counter medication is usually sufficient for relief. And eating foods on the soft side will add to your comfort, too.
Braces shouldn’t change the way you live – you will be able to play an instrument, participate in sports and enjoy your usual activities. Caveat: We recommended wearing a mouth guard for contact sports or other rough activities. Ask for one at the office – it’s complimentary.
Concerned about investing your time? We like to think of it this way: the time will go by anyway. Why not reap the benefits of the changes for the rest of your life? Orthodontic treatment is one of the only self-improvement projects in which someone else does the heavy lifting. Let us do it for you!
What’s for Lunch?
You can probably eat a greater variety of foods than you would imagine with braces, but there are also some loud-and-clear DON’Ts. Obvious don’ts include popcorn kernels (the fluffy parts are fine) and hard nuts (soft nuts are fine). Please steer clear of them. Apples are okay – you just need to cut them up. And baby carrots.
Sticky foods are also out. Nix the caramel, taffy, licorice, bubblegum, gummy bears – and anything else “gummy” for that matter. Sticky foods are fun, but they are also apt to damage bands, wires, brackets and other appliances. Do your best to avoid them – and please keep sugary foods to a minimum. And remember to rinse (at the very least) and brush once you’ve had them!