As reported in our recent article on Invisalign Braces, it is estimated that as many as four million people in the U.S. are wearing braces at any given time. It is estimated that about 25 percent of those are adults. Wearing braces as an adult may seem out of the ordinary, perhaps even embarrassing, but it shouldn’t. There are about a million other people going through the same thing, in addition to those who have already had their braces removed.
Clear braces are a great option for those who are embarrassed about the need for braces, but Invisalign isn’t for everyone. The most complicated cases may still require traditional metal braces. Dr. Wells has noted that many of his patients facing the prospect of traditional metal braces are afraid to try, citing common misconceptions regarding the process and potential complications. If you are considering traditional braces here are some things about the process that might help you with your decision.
The first step is very similar to that of Invisalign. Patients will need to set a consultation appointment with Dr. Wells. He will determine if they are a good candidate for Invisalign or traditional metal braces. If the patient is a good candidate for traditional metal braces, Dr. Wells will take X-rays and impressions of the teeth, so that he can study where the problem areas are and determine where the braces need the most tightening. This is done with the help of a computer, so patients can be certain that no mistakes will be made.
The next step is when the braces are applied. A special glue that is safe for use in the mouth is applied to the brackets and they are glued to the front of the teeth. Afterward a wire is placed through the brackets. The wire is what the doctor tightens to bring the teeth in closer together. The newest technology available in braces uses temperature sensitive materials. These materials will flex and respond to varying temperature of food and drinks so patients can expect temperature not to affect them negatively.
Once the braces are on, Dr. Wells reports that his patients often complain of initial pain, which he says is perfectly normal. This pain comes from the feeling of the braces tightening on the teeth. There may also be some discomfort associated with the brackets touching the lips and gums. There are solutions for discomfort associated with brackets that Dr. Wells goes over with every patient after the braces have been applied. “The initial pain should be gone after the first week,” says Dr. Wells. He added, “The patient gets used to the feeling of the braces, and the pain goes away.”
After the braces are applied, patients must come back in for regular appointments with every three to six weeks, depending on the case. At these appointments, the doctor tightens the braces, which progresses the treatment. As the braces are tightened, the pressure forces the teeth to move in the direction desired for a straight bite.
While the braces are on, Dr. Wells says patients need to be especially careful to keep the braces clean, and be careful of what they eat. “Sticky and gummy foods can get caught in the braces, and crunchy and hard foods can easily break the device,” he says. “Chewing gum should also be avoided, as well as biting finger nails and other hard items like pens or pencils.”
According to Wells, patients should not worry about complications while having braces. “Very rarely does anyone experience a complication once the braces are on,’ he says.
The length of treatment typically lasts between a year or two, but it depends on the individual case. After the braces are off, some of the more complicated cases may require a retainer. Most people keep their retainers in for one to three years, according to Dr. Wells. Those who have issues with bruxism or teeth grinding may need to wear a retainer for the rest of their life or until the bruxism is corrected.
Although there is a small amount of pain and discomfort associated with the initial braces treatment, each tightening, and removal of the braces, this pain and discomfort does not last long at all. In the grand scheme of things, it only takes a few weeks of pain and discomfort to see a change in smile and a change in confidence that lasts a lifetime. If you’re interested in getting Invisalign or traditional metal braces, be sure to contact us at South Charlotte Dentistry right away!