Our braces FAQs
Do I need braces? How do I know?
Maybe! Your orthodontist will look and find out. To find out if you need braces, she’ll thoroughly survey the roof of your mouth, jaws and teeth to determine if you’ll need orthodontic care. She’ll take X-rays, too. Nothing less to capture your entire smile, in all its beauty!
If you need braces, your orthodontist will work with you to create a custom dental plan. Some of your treatment may be functional, like improving your bite, speech or overall structure. Some will be aesthetic, like how your smile will look when everything’s all done. Together, you’ll create a plan to upgrade your dental health and your smile.
Do I have to get a tooth removed?
You might need to, if you have an overcrowded mouth or an extra tooth. In this case, your orthodontist may recommend removing teeth to make room for a healthier bite and a better smile. Depending on your situation, you may need a tooth removed before, during or after you’re wearing your braces.
How do you apply braces?
It’s pretty simple. First, your orthodontist gives your teeth a thorough cleaning and drying, then she’ll glue brackets into place. Those are the little metal squares that hold the wires. Then, she’ll loop the wires through and tighten them for a snug fit that’ll shape your smile in no time. As for the duration of the process, it usually takes about 1-2 hours to apply braces.
How often should braces be adjusted?
Every 5-6 weeks or so! Braces use tensioned wires to move your teeth into place. To keep your perfect smile on track, they’ll need to be checked and adjusted by your orthodontist at regular intervals so they’re tight enough to do their job, but not so tight they’re excessively painful.
If your braces feel a little snug after an adjustment, don’t worry! They’re just doing their job, and that pressure will fade over time until it’s time for the next adjustment.
What’s the deal with those colorful bands?
Braces bands are little rubber bands that hold your braces’ wires in place. For many people, these tiny bands are the most fun part of their braces. Why? Because you get to switch the colors up! Rock your school pride, stay seasonal with holiday-colored bands, go goth with all-black bands, or mix and match any way you like. The possibilities are endless!
Are braces painful?
They can be, but it’s easily treated. Sometimes, braces can dig into the more tender parts of your mouth, like your lips and the insides of your cheeks. If they’re hurting, just let your orthodontist know or head to your favorite drugstore. Ask for dental wax; you can use this special wax to cover up the sharp parts of your braces to protect the soft parts of your mouth.
Is there anything I shouldn’t eat while wearing braces?
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of foods you should avoid while wearing braces: sticky foods and hard foods. The sticky stuff can get stuck in your braces, and if it’s really sticky, it can even pull off your wires and bands. The hard stuff can break off a whole bracket. Be careful!
When it comes to the following foods, it’s better safe than sorry:
- Really chewy food: jerky, bagels, sourdough
- Super crunchy food: popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky stuff: gummy worms, caramel, gum
- Hard food: nuts, hard candy, lollipops
- Sugary food: candy, chocolate, pop
- Anything whole you have to bite into: apples, raw carrots, corn on the cob
So, what can I eat while wearing braces?
There’s still plenty to eat while you’re wearing braces! Anything that’s not sticky, hard, or super-chewy is totally fair game. For the first few days after you get your braces, you should probably stick to softer foods (bananas, pasta, rice). After that, you can mostly eat what you like.
Make foods that take biting into (hamburgers, steak, carrots) more manageable by cutting it up into bite-sized pieces. You can also reduce the likelihood of popping off a bracket by chewing with your back teeth.
How do I keep my teeth clean while wearing braces?
Braces can snare all sorts of things. Food, gum, other people’s braces… that’s why it’s so important to brush your teeth often and get them professionally cleaned, too.
Your dental team will probably recommend an electric toothbrush and a special paste for the job. These important dental tools will keep your teeth extra-clean, reduce dental sensitivity and build up tooth enamel.
When can I get my braces off?
It really depends on your situation! Some people are in and out in six months, but some people need braces for up to three years. The average, of course, lies somewhere in between. Either way, your time wearing braces will be up before you know it!
When you’re all done, your orthodontist will remove your wires and brackets, and your hygienist will do a thorough cleaning and polish. We’ll probably send you home with a tooth whitening kit to bring back that pearly white shine, to boot!
Should I use a retainer?
Absolutely! Your braces have been shifting your teeth, gums and bones into their rightful positions for months. When you’re done, it’s important to wear your retainer regularly and as per your orthodontist’s instructions.
Wearing your retainer will help your teeth solidify in their new position, and most people need to wear one for about the same amount of time they wore braces to ensure their smile stays straight for years to come.