Frequently asked questions about braces
How do I know if I need braces?
Your orthodontist will do a complete survey of your mouth’s structure: the roof of your mouth, jaws and teeth to determine if you need orthodontic care. This will include digital X-Rays that capture your entire smile.
If you do need braces, you’ll work with your orthodontist to create a plan. Some of your treatment may be to improve your bite, speech or overall structure. Some will be aesthetic—how your smile will look when you’re done. Together, you’ll create a plan that improves your dental health and your appearance.
Will I need to have a tooth removed?
If your teeth are overcrowded or you have an extra tooth your orthodontist may recommend removing teeth to create space for a healthier bite and a better smile. Depending on the shape of your mouth, you may need to have a tooth removed before, after or while you're wearing braces.
How are braces applied?
It takes about 1-2 hours to put braces on your teeth. First, your orthodontist cleans and dries your teeth, then she’ll glue the brackets in place. Those are the little square metal pieces that hold the wires. Last, she’ll place the arch wires and tension them.
How often do braces need to be adjusted?
Braces use tensioned wires to move your teeth. Every few weeks, you’ll visit your orthodontist for a check up and an adjustment. Your orthodontist will evaluate how your teeth have moved, then adjust the tension on your braces. In the days after an adjustment, the braces will feel tight and your teeth will feel like they’re getting pushed around...well they are!
As your teeth move over then next few days, the pressure will fade until its time for another adjustment.
Can I change the color of my braces bands?
If you want, you can change up the colors on your braces. The wires are held in place with little rubber bands that come in a rainbow of colors. You can wear your school colors, go goth with black bands or mix and match any way you like.
Do braces hurt?
Sometimes braces can dig into lips or cheeks. To make your braces more comfortable, your dentist or orthodontist can give you some dental wax (or you can pick it up at a drugstore). You just put it over the sharp parts to protect your lips and cheeks.
What foods should I avoid while wearing braces?
There are two broad kinds of food that are no fun with braces: sticky food and hard food. The sticky stuff gets trapped in your braces and can pull off wires and bands (if it's really sticky). Hard food like nuts and candy can break off a bracket.
Avoid these foods when you're wearing braces:
- Food you have to gnaw or chew: jerky, bagels, sourdough
- Crunchy food: popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky stuff: gummy bears, caramel, candy bars, gum
- Hard food: nuts, pretzels, hard candy
- Sugary food: candy, fudge, chocolate, soda
- Things you have to bite into: apples, carrots, corn on the cob
What foods can I eat with braces?
Don't worry! There is still plenty of food that goes well with braces. Basically anything that isn't sticky, hard or super-chewy. For the first few days after you get your braces, stick to softer foods (bananas, pasta, rice). After that, you can eat what you like. Cutting up things that take biting into (hamburgers, steaks, carrots) is a good idea. And try to do most of your chewing with your back teeth. That way you won't break off a bracket.
How do I keep my teeth clean with braces?
Things love to stick in braces: food, gum, other people’s braces. That makes it very important to brush your teeth often and see your dentist regularly for a cleaning. Your dental team will probably recommend using an electric toothbrush and a special paste that you apply once a day to reduce your teeth's sensitivity and build up their enamel.
When can I take my braces off?
It will be time to remove those braces before you know it. Your orthodontist will remove the wires and brackets, then your hygienist will do a very thorough cleaning and polish. We'll probably send you home with a tooth whitening kit to bring your set of newly straightened teeth back to their pearly white best.
Should I get a retainer?
Your braces have been moving your teeth, gums and bones into a new position for months. When your braces come off, the orthodontist will send you home with a retainer to hold your teeth in place while your teeth solidify in their new position. Most people need to wear a retainer for about the same amount of time that they wore braces to ensure their new smile lasts for years to come.