Going to the orthodontist can be a nerve-wracking experience if you don’t know what’s going on. If you’re getting braces or Invisalign for the first time, there are a few steps to getting your braces fitted. Afterward, you’ll visit the orthodontist fairly regularly even after the initial appointment. As time goes on, most patients become more comfortable with the routine checkups.

Here are answers to common questions our patients at Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry have at each stage of the orthodontic process:

How orthodontists put braces on?

The orthodontist will bond brackets to your teeth using a type of dental glue or cement. Then, the dentist will place the wires against the brackets and secure them using ligatures.

Ligatures are elastics that go around the bracket and hold the wires in place. They’re usually the brightly colored pieces that you see on the braces.

After that, the dentist will professionally dry your teeth to make sure everything is intact.

The procedure is usually 1-2 hours. It can be longer or shorter depending on your situation. If you have a lot of overlapping teeth, it can be difficult for the dentist to affix every bracket quickly.

What are spacers? Why do orthodontists put spacers in your teeth?

Spacers are plastic or metal pieces that are placed between teeth that are too close to each other. They are usually placed between the teeth for only 1 or 2 weeks at a time because they exert a lot of pressure on the teeth. Orthodontists typically use them before applying braces.

Why do orthodontists change wires?

Your orthodontist can change out your wires around every two weeks, so they can tighten the braces little by little to push your teeth into the right position. The process is done over the course of many months to allow the teeth and jaw to progressively straighten out.

Orthodontist can’t realign your teeth immediately because placing too much pressure on the teeth at once could damage them and hurt you. With a little patience, however, you’ll see incredible results before you know it.

Can orthodontists adjust wires?

It’s completely normal to experience a little pain or discomfort when you first get your braces. If you feel wires or brackets poking at you, ask your orthodontist if they can adjust the wires to make the braces more comfortable. Orthodontist can trim the wires and shape them differently to accommodate your needs.

As odd as it seems, many people use dental wax to ease any discomfort. The wax comes in small sheets that are shaped, so you can tear off small strips at a time. You can then tear off a small piece and mold it to your bracket to make a protective layer between your mouth and any sharp objects.

Do braces hurt?

Braces can be annoying, but they shouldn’t be excruciatingly painful. If you find yourself severely irritated by your braces or in a dental emergency, let your orthodontist know and they can fix the problem. You don’t want to scar or bruise the inside of your mouth from your braces.

Emergency situations include:

  • Infection: Swelling, cysts, bleeding, and extreme pain may indicate an infection in the gums, mouth, or tongue that needs to be treated by a dental professional. The dentist or orthodontist can diagnose the problem and prescribe any antibiotics or painkillers as needed.
  • Trauma or injury: Getting injured with braces on can be particularly painful because the metal wires and brackets can rub against your mouth. If the wires are undone, a bracket comes off, or a teeth is damaged, visit an orthodontist immediately.

At the orthodontist’s office, there will be all the necessary equipment and staff to care for you. In the event that the dentist or orthodontist is unavailable, patients can also go to an emergency room.

Where to buy orthodontic rubber bands?

When the orthodontist needs to fix your bite by realigning your jaw, they can use interarch elastics to push things in place. The elastics are stretched on a top bracket to a bottom bracket. Unfortunately, they do restrict jaw movement, so they to be taken out when you need to eat or brush.

Your orthodontist will show you how to put elastics back in. For sanitary reasons, you should be using new elastics every time you take them out. These little rubber bands are inexpensive and your orthodontist can supply you with a bag of them, but you can also purchase your own.

They’re sold online and in most retail stores. Just check out the dental hygiene section. The best part is you can also choose the color of elastics you want.

When do I see results?

Most people see results after 1-2 years. The period it takes to straighten your teeth may take shorter or longer depending on your situation. For example, if you have an overbite, it might an extra month or so to realign the top and bottom teeth with elastics.

Though it can be frustrating to have braces, know that they will pay off!

People usually don’t notice how much their teeth have shifted until they get their braces off. You will probably see some noticeable differences in 6 months. Gaps will be closed, overlapping teeth will be separated, and crooked teeth will be straightened. It’s amazing!

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any differences early on. It’s hard to know how your teeth are doing when they’re covered in metal brackets and wires.

How orthodontists take braces off?

The orthodontist will take your braces off by first removing the wire and then taking off the brackets. After that, they will remove the cement used to bond the brackets to the teeth off. Afterward, the orthodontist will professionally clean your teeth to make sure there’s no glue left.

It’s important to take good care of your teeth with proper dental hygiene throughout the duration you have braces. Teeth are more susceptible to teeth decay, yellowing, and calcification when you have braces, so make sure to brush and floss regularly.  

What are retainers for?

Retainers maintain your smile after your braces straighten out your teeth. Teeth can shift even after you get braces, undoing all the time and effort that your orthodontist put into your braces. Your teeth and mouth are constantly growing with your body, so it’s natural that they may move without the support of braces holding them in place.

Right after you get your braces off, the orthodontist will give you retainers to wear at all times, except when you eat and brush your teeth. Typically, you’ll wear these retainers six months to an entire year. After your bite stabilizes, you will only need to wear the retainers at night.

Your orthodontist will decide which type of retainers is best for your teeth. The three main types of retainers are:

  • Hawley retainers: These are the traditional retainers that most people use. They are made of plastic and custom-made to fit your mouth. There is a thin metal wire band that goes around your teeth to keep them in their position.
  • Essix retainers: The Essix retainers are a clear, plastic mold of your teeth that look a lot like Invisalign. They work just like traditional retainers, you keep them on unless you’re eating or brushing and flossing.
  • Permanent retainers: A bonded or permanent retainer is a metal wire attached to the back of the teeth with dental composite material. It can’t be seen because it’s behind the teeth and it ensures the retainers will be worn 24/7 to keep the teeth in place. It can, however, be a little difficult to floss.

After your braces are off and you have your first set of retainers, it’s imperative to keep them on as much as possible to maintain your teeth alignment. Retainers also require special care to keep them hygienic and effective. Be sure to brush them daily and soak them in cleaning solution.

If you are considering visiting an orthodontist or getting braces, feel free to contact us!