What do you need to know before, after and during braces? How do you prepare for orthodontic care? The American Dental Association says that patients can greatly benefit from both dental and orthodontic care if they want a better smile. Seeing a dentist often as a child can help you prepare for braces in the future. Seeing a dentist and orthodontist early on can also help prevent serious oral health issues. When preparing for braces, you will receive an oral exam, x-rays, and have molds of your teeth made. You may even need dental work done as well. We can help you know what you need to do before braces, during, and after braces to achieve a better smile!
Preparing for Braces
Seeing your dentist is the best way to prepare for braces. The ADA recommends that patients visit their dentist at least biannually (meaning twice a year). Patients who have gum disease or are prone to tooth decay (cavities) may need to visit their dentist more often than that to prevent problems. A dentist can detect abnormal bites or alignment in children. This early detection can help children to see an orthodontist early-on for care before bite and alignment problems become severe. Most patients see an orthodontist around the early adolescent years to straighten the teeth. This is because most alignment problems are apparent after the permanent teeth have come into the mouth.
Studies show that most patients who receive braces are between 8 and 14 years old. You will visit your dentist and then often see an orthodontist after. That orthodontist will do a full exam of your teeth including your jaws and mouth and how your bite and alignment are. X-rays help to determine the position of the teeth in the jaw and help an orthodontist plan how your teeth must move to come into correct alignment during your treatment. Much like a dental office, you will have molds (also called “impressions”) made for your teeth. A plaster model of your teeth will be made that the orthodontist can made a plan from. In preparing for braces, you should plan on between 18-24 months of wearing braces to receive a straight smile. However, know that braces can be fun and are an investment in your future.
Caring for Your Braces
Your braces will be a new experience for you. At first, you may have a tender mouth, as your teeth will have to get used to the new brackets that are on them. Brackets are the squares attached to each tooth. There will be an archwire that runs through each bracket and helps mold your jaw arch correctly. You may also have elastic rubber bands and steel bands in the back of your teeth that are attached to the tooth. You must take extra time each day to care for your braces properly. If you brushed for 2 minutes before braces, you will have to extend that time now. Each bracket can get food stuck in it with any given meal, so it’s important that you brush each tooth and especially brush the bracket at different angles to dislodge food that has become stuck.
Flossing is extra important as well, because it is usually a step that is skipped if patients are short on time. Flossing requires setting aside around 10 minutes of your time to do it right. Use a floss threader to thread the floss under your wire, then floss between your teeth like normal. You will have to thread the floss for each individual tooth, but the time is worth it as it helps to decrease your risk for tooth decay between the teeth. Some patients may need to use a proxy brush or toothpicks to dislodge foods from the brackets. A mouthrinse with fluoride can help keep the teeth healthy as well.
After Your Orthodontic Care
You’ve spent 18-24 months to get a better smile. Now what? It is highly important to wear your retainer every single day after your braces come off. Your teeth have been moved into place very recently and can even start changing back into their crooked paths in the first month after braces if the retainer is not worn. Wear your retainer according to what the orthodontist suggests. If you follow their recommendations for taking care of your smile, you can look forward to many decades of a better smile with beautiful teeth.
A smile is not complete once it is straight. You still must brush and floss the teeth every single day to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can destroy your smile. However, both of these are avoidable if you follow basic oral hygiene.
A Better Smile Today
If you care for your braces well, then you can expect to have a beautiful smile after your treatment is over. A better smile can bring you added confidence and success, which is what we want for every patient. If you are preparing for braces, follow our recommendations. You can even learn more about preparation, what to do with braces in special circumstances, and ask questions you may have after your care is over. Simply call our Belmar Orthodontics office at (303) 225-9016 to know more!