In our last blog we discussed some of the reasons why people need braces. Today, we’ll discuss the ages they can be used, what to expect and how to look after them.
When?? How old do I have to be? I don’t now about you, but usually when I think about braces I tend to immediately think about teenagers in high school. However, this is completely wrong!! Our teeth can be straightened at almost any age, because even as adults, as long as our teeth are healthy and we have the necessary supporting teeth, our teeth can be re-trained to ‘sit’ properly so that we have wonderful smiles. Of course, the majority of people still do have braces as children, particularly during the teenage years as this is when a lot of the growth in our faces occurs, so it makes sense to do any necessary orthodontic work then, as in the long term it saves time and expense at a later stage of our lives.
Adults wear braces too!!!
What to expect from your braces?
As well as the medical benefits of having braces such as; straightening teeth, correcting your bite, closing gaps, stopping your jaw hurting, relieving headaches and muscle aches you may also benefit from many other factors. As appearance has a lot to do with confidence you may find that you are more outgoing and confident as a result of your teeth and your smile being ‘fixed’. Many children and even adults can be bullied or picked on because of perceived problems with their appearance and braces can in some cases help with this. Just by having the braces in, they can help you feel more confident, even while wearing them because you now know that your smile and teeth are going to get better. So, your confidence and self-image can increase throughout the whole procedure.
How to look after your braces?
Now the medical and psychological benefits of braces can only do so much. YOU have to do your part!! The most important part is keeping your teeth and braces clean! BUT remember although it might be a bit more difficult to keep them clean, we all know that nothing worth while is easy, we all have to work at it!!!
Sometimes you may feel some soreness during treatment. More usually just after the braces are first placed and then sometimes after the periodic adjustments. This is only to be expected and should only last for a short while, everyone is different. Your lips and cheeks may also take some time to get used to the braces and need time to adjust to this ‘alien’ thing in your mouth. Don’t worry, this is quite normal, but if you have any issues about any discomfort or pain, please call your Orthodontist for reassurance and advice. Your Orthodontist does not want you be stressed about the braces and will give you advice to minimize any issues you might have. You might be given soft wax to place over the bands and brackets at night which helps your lips and cheeks to adapt to the braces. Another simple remedy is to rinse your mouth with a warm salt water mix (1/4 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of warm water) for the first week.
For ongoing maintenance you will need to check your braces daily to see if any are loose or broken as this can happen occasionally. Of course, if you do find anything loose or broken you will need to call you Orthodontist immediately to get it fixed.
Other maintenance issues are the very basic ones of brushing often and minimizing your intake of sugar, which, of course apply to ALL dental hygiene regimes. Those that specifically apply to braces are avoiding sticky foods such as caramels, Laffy Taffy, Tootsie Rolls, Gummies; avoiding hard foods such as nuts, popcorn (well – the kernels are hard !!!!), hard pretzels, suckers, ice, Jolly Ranchers, Jaw Breakers; cutting apples, carrots and corn on the cob into pieces and tearing bagels, pizza crusts and jerky with your fingers NOT your teeth!! Now, just because these are the only items on this short list – don’t think that they are the only ones you should avoid…..use your common sense!! THINK before you eat if and how the food will affect your braces. It is up to you to be careful, after all, it will be YOU back at the dentist in pain if you don’t pay attention.
Ultimately, your braces will result in a wonderful new smile for you – but only if you follow your Orthodontist’s instructions and attend all your appointments.
I’d like to thank the staff at our colleague the Betsy Meade Orthodontics (DDS, MS) office for helping with the information for these last two blogs about braces.