How long will I have to wear braces?
This depends on how much work we need to do and how much your teeth need to be realigned. Fixed braces generally take between 12 and 24 months, however could take longer if the problem is severe or if you don’t stick to your treatment regime.
Your orthodontist, Dr Foot, will be able to give you advice about your braces and teeth. Poor compliance may mean that the braces take longer to work and the treatment may be unsuccessful. If your braces are damaged or broken this can also delay the treatment.
How often should I see the orthodontist while I am wearing my braces?
You will need to have braces adjusted regularly to make sure they’re working properly. You will usually have an appointment every six to eight weeks. It is extremely important that you go to these appointments otherwise the braces will take much longer to work.
Will my mouth be sore in between visits?
While it’s true that your mouth is very sensitive to change, getting used to your braces should normally only take a few days.
At first, your teeth may feel uncomfortable because of the pressure put on them by the braces. Your teeth may also feel uncomfortable and tight for a few hours after the braces have been adjusted. Painkillers such as ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) and paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) can help.
Some parts of the braces may also cause discomfort to your cheeks and lips, leading to sore spots or ulcers. Dr Foot will give you orthodontic wax to place over the parts that are causing irritation.
If after seven to ten days any part of your braces are still causing soreness, please give us a call.
Can I continue playing sports while wearing braces?
If you play contact sports and you have fixed braces, you should wear a special mouthguard that fits over the braces during sporting activities. Dr Foot will be able to make you one or you can buy a re-mouldable mouthguard from your local chemist.
If you have a removable plate, then it is best to take it out and put it in a retainer box, while playing sport. Make sure you then use a mouthguard and put your plate back in as soon as possible. It is also best to take your plate out if you are swimming.
Can I eat normally?
Eating the wrong foods can damage or break your braces. For the first few days, it may be better to keep to soft foods.
The following four types of foods should be avoided at all times when you have braces:
- Hard foods
- Sticky foods
- Foods high in sugar content
- Acidic foods
- Sugar-sweetened gum
- Hard foods
Hard food can break brackets, loosen bands, and bend wires. Avoid hard foods such as:
- Apples, carrots (unless cooked or cut into small pieces)
- Ice (in fact, do not chew on ice, ever)
- Corn on the cob
- Peanut brittle
- Sticky foods
Sticky foods can also break brackets, loosen bands, and bend wires. Avoid sticky foods such as:
- Redskins and any other sticky lollies
- Foods High in Sugar Content
Foods high in sugar cause bacteria in your mouth to start producing acids which can lead to permanent stains and damage to your teeth. If you must eat sugary foods every once in a while, make sure you brush your teeth thoroughly, immediately afterwards.
- Acidic Foods
Acidic foods can also cause permanent stains and damage to your teeth. Avoid acidic foods such as:
- Soft drinks and cordial (even diet drinks can be very acidic)
- Lemons and lemon juice
Bubble gum and chewing gum that contains sugar should be avoided.
Sugar-free chewing gum may be used if you are careful and may even reduce the tenderness associated with your braces when they are adjusted
- Do not bite through hard foods with your front teeth. This may break your front braces.
- Do not chew on pens, pencils or fingernails as this may break parts of your braces.
- Remember to brush and floss your teeth to keep them strong and healthy.
If you experience a problem with any part of your braces it is important that you contact the practice immediately.
Will I be able to speak normally?
Sometimes when plates or expanders are fitted, they may affect your speech and cause problems in pronouncing certain words. Lisping may also be a problem at first, however most people adapt within a few days and quickly begin to speak clearly again.
Can I still play musical instruments?
Braces may affect playing wind instruments, although with practice you should get used to it.
If your plate is removable then it is best to remove it and store it safely in a retainer box. Put it back in straight after you have finished playing.
Why do I need to take extra care when I have braces?
It is extremely important that you take the time and effort to keep your teeth and braces clean. This will help you avoid problems such as dental decay, inflamed gums and tooth decalcification.
Decalcification is when you lose the mineral calcium from the surface of your teeth and this may leave white spots on your teeth after the braces are removed.
It is also important to keep having routine dental examinations with your regular dentist while you are having orthodontic treatment. This is to make sure that your teeth and mouth stay healthy.
What if I lose my plate or damage my braces?
If you lose your plate or damage your braces, ring the practice as soon as possible. Do not wait until your next routine appointment. Whenever the braces are not attached to teeth or it is not in the correct position, it affects your treatment and makes it more likely that your teeth will go back to their old position.
How should I clean my mouth and braces?
Clean your teeth and the braces thoroughly after each meal. Pay special attention to each individual tooth and the gum around it. Use the interdental brushes provided to clean underneath the wire and in between the braces. It is important to remove the food debris after every meal. Bleeding, tender and swollen gums are signs of poor cleaning.
What products can help me to look after my mouth and braces?
Total care toothpastes: These contain a number of ingredients such as fluoride or tartar control which make them effective multi-action toothpaste. They help control plaque, dental decay and gum disease while also freshening your breath.
Electric or battery operated toothbrushes: Either may be used, as long as you take care to clean all the surfaces on all of your teeth.
Interdental brushes: These can help you clean under the wire and around your braces. They can also fit between your teeth and are ideal for cleaning around the brackets of fixed braces. We will initially supply you with these but your local pharmacy should also stock them.
Floss threaders or Super-floss: You can use these to help get dental floss between your teeth and under the wire so you can clean the gums next to your teeth.
Disclosing tablets: These contain a harmless dye which stains the dental plaque making it easier to see where the plaque is when you are brushing. This can help make sure that you are brushing your teeth properly. Your dentist, pharmacy or supermarket will stock these.
Fluoride mouth rinse: Using fluoride mouth rinses regularly can help to prevent dental decay and tooth decalcification. You should only use them under the guidance and instruction of your dentist or orthodontist.
Will I have to wear retainers once my braces are removed?
Once your teeth have been moved into the correct position by the braces the bone and gum tissues around the teeth will still be very unstable. Retainers (also known as plates) are needed to keep the teeth in the corrected position until the bone and gum around the teeth have caught up with the new position of the teeth, reorganised and settled.
This process takes many months. The retainers will, therefore, need to be worn full time initially, however wear will be reduced as time goes by and the bone around the teeth stabilises. Long-term retainer wear will serve as a gentle reminder for the teeth and bone as to the correct position. This will also let you know if your teeth start moving again as the retainers will start feeling tight.