Many people are put off the idea of having braces to straighten their teeth. This might be due to a previous bad experience at the dentist or because they believe the treatment will be painful; however, while it can be a little uncomfortable at times, orthodontics is typically much more gentle than mainstream dentistry. Her we look at what you can expect.
An initial consultation will involve an examination of the teeth and x-rays so that the orthodontist can establish what needs to be done. An impression of the teeth will also be taken using special putty. Although not painful, this process can be a little unpleasant for some patients if they have a strong gag reflex. The orthodontist will use this appointment to assess which type of appliance will work best.
Regardless of the type of brace, the fitting appointment should be simple. For removable appliances such as Invisalign, the orthodontist will ensure the aligners fit correctly and will show the patient how to insert and remove them.
A longer appointment will be required for a fixed brace, but again the process is fairly simple. The brackets will be attached to the teeth with special cement and set with a blue light. The brackets will then be joined with thin metal wire, which is held in position using sliding clips or elastic bands.
It is normal for the mouth to become a little sore and to ache slightly for a day or two following the initial fitting. Painkillers and salt water rinses will help with this. Orthodontic wax can also applied to certain areas of the brace to prevent it rubbing on the inside of the cheek.
Every few weeks the brace will need adjusting or the aligners replaced. Again, there may be a little discomfort following these appointments.
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When it is time for the brace to be removed, a special tool unclips the brackets and any remaining cement is cleaned off. This does not hurt, but the patient may feel some pressure.
Once the orthotic treatment is over, a removable retainer is usually provided. It is recommended the retainer is worn at night indefinitely to help maintain the new position of the teeth.