If you have children coming into their adolescence, you may already have had the ‘braces’ discussion with your dentist. These teen years do much to establish the alignment of our bite as adult teeth have emerged and many patients experience crowding. Beginning braces earlier in your child’s development promotes a straight, healthy bite and pleasing appearance – but it isn’t just our young patients who are getting started with braces. Many adults inquire about straightening their smile and regret not having done it sooner. Whether you are an adult orthodontic patient or a rising star on the high school football team, braces therapy is an investment in the quality and appearance of your smile.
When there is not enough room in the mouth for the number of teeth that they house, it is natural for them to drift out of alignment – this is called malocclusion (or simply, crooked teeth). When teeth begin to move out of alignment, the consequences are not just a cosmetic concern. Poor alignment can accompany poor bite quality and cause discomfort when eating.
Crooked teeth are much more demanding to keep clean than straight ones, since many teeth together can make them more difficult to access for cleaning. For this reason, there is often gum sensitivity and bleeding during flossing. Well-aligned teeth have teeth evenly distributed across the arch to provide maximum bite power and tend to be fully exposed everywhere but where they meet the next tooth. This means fewer places for germs and acid to hide and easier flossing.
If you decide to proceed with braces, your dentist will mount small metal brackets on the outside of each of your teeth. These brackets will hold, threaded through them, a rigid arch wire and the resistance between the arch wire and the bracket is what pulls the tooth into place.
Teeth can be led into alignment with slow coaxing using consistent pressure. After some time, the ligaments in the mouth and the bones of the jaw begin to accommodate the pressure and drift into alignment. This natural process that dissolves and materializes bone is harnessed by the braces.
When you first get your braces, and after most adjustments you are likely to feel some pressure and tenderness in the mouth as the ligaments in the jaw respond to the new pressure. After 24-48 hours, you should no longer feel the discomfort.
When you have your braces installed, you will be adding to the surface area in the mouth which provides more opportunity for acids and plaque to hide and attack the enamel and soft tissues. It is critical to take good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly especially when you have braces installed, and to pay attention to what you should not eat when you have braces.
You shouldn’t eat anything hard or crunchy – anything that could put pressure on the brackets is likely to break the bracket away from the tooth. This would lead you hoping that your dentist can see you in the short-term to re-cement the bracket. This includes things like carrots, apples, chips which have all been known to cause this problem.
Eating sticky foods and foods that easily get stuck in the teeth are also problematic for braces. Sticky sweets create a vacuum when the jaw opens and can break brackets – if you need a sweet treat, look for something that dissolves quickly like chocolate. Foods like popcorn will be unpleasant to eat for someone with braces because it will get caught in the brackets and make it difficult to clean properly.
When you wear braces, it is important to brush and floss your teeth a minimum of twice daily, but the best policy is to brush the teeth each time you eat. This ensures that your teeth remain healthy throughout your treatment timeline. Use your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to gently brush above and below the braces. Use a floss threader to pass floss behind the arch wire so that you can easily clean between each tooth.
Remember that when your braces are removed at the end of treatment, they will reveal any staining that occurred during wear. Since the area behind each bracket is protected, stains will occur everywhere but where that bracket is mounted. This can result in a noticeable difference in tooth shade on the areas that were not covered by a bracket. Some discolouration is normal and will polish off of the teeth, while some will not. In order to guard against this problem, avoid eating and drinking pigmented drinks like coloured soda, wine and coffee. With good care, your teeth will not only be straighter after braces but tissue health in the mouth will improve as well.
For questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist contact our clinic today.