Getting braces was once a symbol of awkwardness captured forever in high school yearbooks. Not anymore! Getting braces has turned into a fun right of passage for middle schoolers with the introduction of fun band colors, fun hashtags and in many cases the removal of braces long before senior pictures.
Even the stigma once associated with adults getting braces has diminished with the advances in orthodontic technology like clear braces aligners. Self-care has taken the stage to improve the health and confidence of those who couldn’t get braces in the past, or whose treatment wasn’t fully effective.
If braces are in your future – either for yourself or your child – here are a few things you should know before getting braces.
It’s not just about the look of your smile. While orthodontics help with a cosmetic desire for straight teeth, braces can also help correct teeth, bite and jaw alignment issues and ultimately improve oral health.
You’ll need to get your dental work done first. Before getting braces, you’ll need to have a teeth cleaning and have all other dental work completed. This may include having wisdom teeth removed so they don’t interfere with the orthodontic treatment.
You’ll need to adjust your diet. Begin to limit or eliminate certain foods from your diet before you get braces that can become a big problem. This includes gummy and sticky foods like caramels, gummy bears, and gum; foods you have to yank to chew, like taffy or jerky; very hard foods, especially those you bite into like corn on the cob and apples (of course, you can still eat these, they just need to be cut and chewed rather than bitten into).
Teeth brushing will be more important than ever. Braces make brushing a little more difficult but it’s even more important once braces are in place to ensure the health of your teeth during treatment. Before getting braces, get a travel pack together for your on-the-go oral care. Carry a toothbrush and travel-sized paste with you, as well as a gum-safe toothpick. Items can easily get stuck between wires and brackets, and brushing will help resolve it easily and keep breath fresh.
Athletes – You’ll want a mouthguard. Patients who play sports will want to make sure they start using a mouthguard to protect the inside of their mouth from potential contact with their braces.
Braces are a commitment. Most patients will need to see their orthodontist every 4-6 weeks to ensure treatment is progressing properly and to have adjustments made. It’s a time commitment for both the patient and their parent.
There might be some pain. At times, patients may experience mild pain, especially after initial placement and when wires are tightened. Patients can try chewing sugar free gum or sucking on ice to relieve discomfort. You’ll also want to prepare with over the counter pain medication and plan on only eating soft foods, especially in the beginning when you are getting used to the new braces.
You’ll want to take a selfie. Of course you want to have before and after photos – so make it fun and snap your selfie before getting braces to look back on when they come off and reveal a beautiful, straight new smile!
Knowing what to expect before getting braces will make the experience that much easier. When those braces finally come off and you see that new healthy smile, you’ll realize the little inconveniences were worth it!