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ABC’s Of Braces: All You Need To Know Before Starting Treatment

There have been a number of innovative new techniques and technologies in orthodontics within the last several years, resulting in more treatment options than ever before. But even with all these advances, traditional braces are still one of the best tools we have when it comes to creating beautifully aligned smiles that are fully functional. Not only do they have an impressive track record behind them, they’re also durable, cost-efficient, and particularly effective in cases that are more severe or complicated. There’s a reason braces continue to be the top orthodontic treatment, year after year!

If you’ve decided on braces treatment, it can be exciting, but you may be feeling a little nervous as wall. While you’re setting out on a journey that will lead to improved oral health and a better smile, it’s still common to have some questions and concerns before your treatment begins. Here at Sawgrass Orthodontics, it’s important to us that you feel confident in the trust you’ve placed in us, so we’ve put together this guide to everything you need to know before beginning orthodontic treatment. Keep reading to learn more about the ABC’s of braces treatment!

What are braces made of?

To gain a better understanding of how braces work, it helps to have some knowledge of what they’re composed of. There are several moving parts, but we’ve listed the most important ones below.

Brackets

Brackets are typically made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials, which makes them strong and durable. This is the part of braces that are attached directly to your teeth. The brackets have tiny hooks or doors over which the wire is threaded, and they are secured by closing the door or applying an elastic over the top of the wire.

Glue

Tooth glue is a form of the same composite bonding material that we use for tooth-colored fillings or sealants, and we use it to attach the brackets to the teeth. We sometimes use metal bands on the back teeth in conjunction with the glue to give braces more leverage and stability.

Wire

This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another. Changes to the shape and curvature of the wire are what move the teeth into their new and improved positions. For some patients, the wire will attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may just cut the wire strategically if connecting only a few teeth makes more sense.

Elastics

While most patients will need elastics at some point in their treatment plan, they’re essential for patients in need of bite correction. Elastics are usually strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook, pulling the upper teeth backwards to correct an overbite, or the lower teeth backwards to correct an underbite. We can use rubber bands for many different situations, but they’re especially helpful when we want to bring the upper and lower teeth together successfully.

How does the treatment process work?

Depending on who you see, Dr. Penny or Dr. Kristen will create a customized treatment plan for you that includes information on how each tooth needs to be moved to shift it to the most desirable position. This will help them decide how to place the brackets on your teeth. Once the brackets have been attached, the wire will be inserted. The bends in the wire is how we encourage specific and precise movements. To put it more simply, each bend provides a different type of pressure on different teeth. This process of tooth movement is called remodeling. It involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth.

When pressure is put on a tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts form around its root. The pressure of the wire works with these osteoblasts and osteoclasts to create a negative pressure on one side of the tooth. At this site, bone is removed. On the other side of the tooth, bone is reformed. It’s this process of pressure and remodeling that slowly moves each tooth into the desired position.It should be noted that the remodeling process can only occur if constant pressure is put on the tooth. Once treatment is complete, there is no longer any pressure, and teeth will start to drift back to their old positions over time. This is why retainers are so important! We’ll provide you with one as soon as your braces come off, and encourage you to wear it exactly as directed by Dr. Penny and Dr. Kristen. This will help keep your teeth in their new, improved positions and your newly straightened smile in place.

Caring for your braces

Caring for your braces can sometimes come with a little bit of a learning curve, but give it some time and patience, and you’ll get the hang of it before you know it! We recommend that all of our braces patients brush at least two times each day for two minutes each. Use fluoride toothpaste, and pay careful attention to the areas between the brackets and gums. For those tricky areas in between the wires and teeth, try interdental brushes. This can make it easier to remove plaque and food debris from hard-to-reach spaces.

Flossing is also an important part of maintaining oral health, particularly when you’re in braces. It should be done at least once per day, preferably before bedtime. If you find dental floss too difficult to manage, you can try a floss threader or an oral irrigator like a Waterpik for some extra help. These instruments are great at removing food particles and plaque, but they shouldn’t take the place of regular brushing and flossing.

Food restrictions

Food restrictions can definitely be a challenge, especially in the early days, but they’re necessary to protect both your braces and your teeth. Throughout the treatment process, you’ll need to put any crunchy or chewy foods on the back burner. This includes things like chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, and many kinds of candy. While we know that all this can take some getting used to, remember that food restrictions are only temporary! All your hard work will be more than worth it once your braces come off and you see your beautiful new smile.  

Estimated treatment times

Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to treatment times. Because every smile  is unique and each patient responds to treatment in their own way, treatment times will vary from case to case. Other factors such as the severity of your issues and your overall compliance can make a difference, as well. On average, the active stage of orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from about 6-24 months, but that can be longer or shorter, depending on your specific case.

Get the smile you’ve always wanted with Sawgrass Orthodontics

The first step in any orthodontic journey is a consultation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Penny and Dr. Kristen. At Sawgrass Orthodontics, this initial consultation is free! If you’re in Sunrise or any of the surrounding communities, we encourage you to get in touch so you can explore what braces have to offer you. There’s never been a better time to get the beautiful, healthy smile you’ve always wanted - and deserve!

Posted by Kristen Igualada-Heine at 1:51 PM
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