10 Important Things to Know Before You Get Dental Braces
Getting braces can be a daunting experience. But it doesn’t have to be scary. With the right information and advice, dental braces can be a walk in the park.
Image by Jen Durfey on Flickr.
Crooked teeth can be a real problem, no matter how old you are or what condition your mouth is in. The biggest blow is to self-esteem, because misaligned and unusually placed teeth are considered to be inferior. Even if a patient has great oral hygiene, it doesn’t stop people from making negative judgements about crooked gnashers.
This is why dentists keep such a close eye on the development of adult teeth, in children. As soon as the permanent teeth have begun to emerge, their growth and formation can be tracked, in order to make sure that they are completely healthy. If crooked teeth are found, childhood is the perfect time for corrective measures to be put in place.
The mouth is still growing, so the tissues are more malleable and flexible than they would be in an adult. It is much better for a child if crooked teeth can be fixed before the onset of adolescence, because this is a time when appearance means everything. Imperfect, stained, broken, or misaligned teeth are likely to lead to social and emotional challenges.
Many teenagers dread being told that they need dental braces and some refuse to wear them altogether. While modern braces are a lot less conspicuous than some of the older products, they are still visible and they can cause problems for self-conscious teens. So, avoid the drama and keep a close eye on your child’s dental health. Visit the dentist regularly and any signs of trouble will be treated before they become a major problem.
This guide to some of the most important things to know about dental braces will help you to prepare for them, no matter how old you are.
You Can Have Braces At Any Age
Dental braces are most commonly associated with teenagers, simply because this is when most people first notice their crooked teeth. There is no age limit for this kind of corrective treatment though, so don’t be put off by the stereotypes. You can use braces to correct misaligned teeth at any age, just so long as your teeth and gums are reasonably strong. Dental braces are not suitable for patients with weakened gums or poor dental health.
This is because they place a lot of extra pressure on the gums. Naturally, you need to have tough, robust, and flexible gum tissue that is able to bounce back if you want to wear braces. It is becoming increasingly common for adults to be fitted with braces. Many of these people saw a need for corrective treatment as children, but their families could not afford it. They turn to braces in adulthood to try and fix the crooked teeth that are holding back their confidence.
Straight Teeth Are Not Everything
The assumption is that braces are all about giving a patient perfectly straight teeth. While this is one of the main aims of wearing them, it is not the only objective. Dental braces achieve a lot more. This is why, when a patient attends a consultation for braces, their orthodontist examines their mouth for a lot of different issues. They will ask a lot of questions, but what they are trying to do is build up a comprehensive oral review.
They might ask if you ever experienced pain in the jawbone. Do you ever have any problems with bleeding gums? Do any of your teeth feel loose or jagged? Can you stick your tongue out of the front of your teeth? Whatever your orthodontist asks you, they are asking for a good reason, so give an honest answer. Be patient and try not to fidget as they check your mouth for crowded teeth, gaps in the gum line, and impacted teeth.
Your Bite May Also Need to Be Fixed
As well as determining whether your teeth are straight, your orthodontist will check to see if your bite is healthy. The ‘bite’ is what happens when you close your two rows of teeth and then open them up again. When you do this, the rows should meet, but not grind or exhibit too much abrasion. Similarly, there should be no big gaps anywhere along the line where the two rows of teeth meet.
This is an important part of making sure that your mouth functions correctly. Issues with your bite can lead to TMJ related headaches and problems with chewing and speaking, if left untreated. So, remember that orthodontist appointments are about more than just deciding whether or not you need braces. They can mean the difference between a quick fix for a minor dysfunction and an unnoticed problem that turns into a major challenge.
Your Orthodontist is an Expert
The relationship between orthodontists and regular dentists can be an unnecessarily confusing one sometimes. In simple terms, an orthodontist is specially trained in dental movement and the function of the jawbone. So, they know all of the things that a regular dentist does, but their specialist subject is how the teeth move in the mouth. This makes them the perfect choice for prescribing, fitting, and monitoring dental braces.
In some cases, dentists offer to fit braces themselves. They might tell a patient that it is the more cost efficient way to do things or that it will be quicker than waiting in line to see an orthodontist. While this is not always a bad thing to do, the reality is that dentists don’t have the same training as orthodontists. There is always a chance that your dentist could fit the braces wrong and you’d have to pay more to get them fixed. So, do it properly first time around.
Most Consultations Are Free
The great thing about visiting the orthodontist for the first time is that most do not charge for a consultation. This means that patients can see the specialist recommended by their own dentist, but also visit a second or a third if they feel it necessary. You can have as many consultations as you need, in order to find an orthodontist that you are comfortable with.
This is important, because wearing braces is a long term measure. It involves lots of follow up appointments, lots of visits for adjustments, and it requires you to stay in touch with your specialist. So, you do want an orthodontist who keeps you relaxed and happy. Usually, the specialist recommended by a dentist is the best person for the job, but it does help to have a little freedom and flexibility.
Don’t Fixate on Invisible Brackets
Modern dentists are running into issues, these days, with patients who don’t really listen to their recommendations. They want dental braces that look as inconspicuous as possible. While this is understandable – and there are special ‘concealed’ braces – they are not always the most suitable choice. Invisible bracket braces are designed to blend in with teeth, so they are popular with teenagers. However, only a small percentage of patients are compatible with the plastic brackets and aligners.
It can be difficult, especially for young people, to be told that the most ‘stylish’ option is not the best, but the final results speak volumes. In the long run, you are going to have straighter teeth, a healthier mouth, and a more beautiful smile if you accept the treatments that your dentist advises. If you insist on an option that is unsuitable, you could just end up having to switch to metal brackets later on anyway. And, you will have to wear braces for twice as long as originally prescribed.
Cost and Treatment Times Differ
The bad news is that dental braces don’t really come cheap. They can be a costly treatment option, but since they are usually an essential one, there are lots of dental membership plans and payments schemes to help patients meet the expense. The important thing to know is that costs vary wildly. The typical cost of braces depends on the location, the clinic, the age of the patient, and whether or not there are any other complicating issues.
Generally speaking, braces costs somewhere between $3,000 and 6,000, but the actual price will change according to where you live and how comprehensive the fitting needs to be. The ‘invisible’ bracket braces are more expensive than standard metal ones, because they are more difficult to manufacture. Crucially, this does not necessarily mean that they are a better option for your teeth. Your dentist will be able to give you advice on what kind of brackets and aligners are compatible with your mouth.
Two Years is the Average Treatment Period
The typical treatment duration is around two years, but your own prognosis will depend on how much work needs to be done to straighten your teeth and fix your bite. There are certain methods that can be used to align the teeth faster, but these are generally not recommended unless the teeth are in an extremely robust and healthy condition. You can ask your dentist for more information about them, but be aware that they involve a degree of painful alignment.
These rapid methods usually involve minor surgery to the jaw. They align the teeth in around six months, but the healing process is painful and tricky to navigate. For this reason, your dentist will always try to convince you to take the easier route. If you are determined to speed up the process, however, and are happy to accept the risks and side effects, it may be possible to receive this kind of corrective procedure.
Switching During Treatment is Costly
There are times when patients simply cannot avoid moving away from their chosen orthodontist during treatment. This is a tricky situation, but one which just has to happen sometimes. However, if you can avoid moving house or cutting ties with your orthodontist while still wearing your braces, do so at all costs. It can be very fussy and financially tricky to up and move to another clinic in the middle of treatment.
This is why you need to choose your orthodontist very carefully. Before treatment begins and you are fitted with your braces, you will be asked to sign a contract. If you move or you want to switch orthodontists after this time, you need to negotiate the end of your contract. With most dentists, it is easy to agree on how much treatment has been given and how much money is owed, but sometimes patients and specialists disagree.
Then, you have to start up treatments and care with a brand new orthodontist. This means a brand new contract and a new set of rules. In some cases, you will be allowed to start up treatment where you left off with the old specialist. For most orthodontists, however, this is not an option. You may need to begin treatment costs from scratch, even if you have been wearing your dental braces for some time. This is why it is worth delaying relocation plans if possible.
There Will Be Some Pain
Unfortunately, wearing and getting used to braces is not a pain free process. While the actual fitting rarely hurts, the new sensations and pressure against your teeth will cause soreness and aching. You may experience sores on the inside of your gums and lips, because the mouth is simply not used to having so much metal or plastic close to the tissues. All of these painful side effects should subside after a couple of weeks.
It can be very hard to get used to wearing braces and there are plenty of horror stories from former wearers about canker sores, persistent aches, and problems eating. You have to remember that the end goal is a healthier mouth and a much more beautiful smile. After a few months, you will barely notice your braces at all. In fact, you will wonder what all the fuss was about. But, you do need to stay patient and work through those troublesome first weeks.
Your dentist will likely prescribe or recommend an over the counter painkiller to help with the soreness. And, you can rinse your mouth out with a salt water solution to alleviate the pressure and pain. If you do this several times a day, it will keep your mouth and the braces clean and free from bacteria. Chewing and speaking will be tricky at first, but you just have to keep an eye on that end goal – a perfect smile.
The Right Way to Deal with Dental Braces
If you have recently been fitted with braces and are having trouble adjusting, speak to your orthodontist. It if their responsibility to help you get through the initial stages of wearing braces; use your specialist as a valuable resource. Ask questions, raise concerns, and inform them about any changes in your mouth. If you stay in touch with your dentist and visit as often as recommended, you should find that the process goes much more smoothly.
You must also keep your teeth and mouth as healthy as possible. Fortunately, brushing with braces is really no more difficult than it is normally. You can use a regular toothbrush, with regular bristles. You may need to replace it more often though, because the metal brackets will wear the bristles down faster. It will take a little more time and precision to floss, but this is also more than possible. Take care, be gentle, and do not put too much pressure on teeth.
When your braces look shiny and clean (and you can see the edges of the brackets), you will know that you have done a fine job. You only have to brush and floss twice a day, like anybody else, or more frequently if you have consumed a lot of sugary drinks and snacks. Attend regular check-ups and inform your doctor of any unexpected changes to your teeth or mouth.