With so many new orthodontic technologies and treatment methods emerging over the last several years, it can be easy to forget traditional braces are still one of our best tools for creating beautiful smiles. As a matter of fact, today’s braces are sleeker, more comfortable, and more customizable than ever before! If you’re looking for a time-tested, cost-effective solution for giving you a straighter smile, braces can’t be beat, and that’s one reason they’re the top orthodontic treatment, year after year.
If you’ve recently decided on braces treatment with Rhoads Orthodontic Specialist, congratulations! Dr. Rhoads and the rest of our expert team are looking forward to working with you towards the smile you’ve always wanted. We take the trust you’ve placed in us seriously, and want you to feel confident in choosing orthodontic treatment with our practice. Braces are one of the best investments you can make in yourself, and as such, you may have some questions or concerns before beginning treatment, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect from the process.
To help you feel more comfortable with your upcoming orthodontic journey, we put together this guide to help you learn everything you need to know before getting your braces put on. If you’re ready to learn more about what braces are, how they actually straighten your teeth, and what you can do to get the most out of your treatment, keep reading below!
What are braces made of?
Since there are a number of moving parts involved in aligning your teeth with braces, we’ll just go over some of the most important ones for the sake of brevity.
Brackets are the part of braces that we attach directly to your teeth. Because they’re typically made from a mix of stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials, they’re very durable. Brackets have tiny hooks or doors over which the wire is threaded, and are secured by closing the door or by applying an elastic over the top of the wire.
Tooth glue is technically a form of the same composite bonding material that we use for tooth-colored fillings or sealants. This adhesive is used to attach the brackets to the teeth. In some cases, we may use metal bands on the back teeth in conjunction with the glue to give braces more leverage and stability.
This thin piece of metal runs from one bracket to another, and the changes in its shape and curvature are what prompt the teeth to move where we want them to go. With some patients, the wire will attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may choose to cut the wire strategically if connecting only a few teeth makes more sense for the treatment plan.
Most patients will need elastics at some point in their treatment plan, and they’re especially important for patients in need of bite correction. The 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 several different scenarios, but they can be particularly useful for bringing the upper and lower teeth together successfully.
We won’t need to use these with every patient, but these stainless steel rings are cemented to the teeth using dental bonding agents to provide an anchor for braces and other orthodontic appliances.
How do braces actually work?
After a complimentary consultation in our office with Dr. Rhoads, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan for you. This plan will include information on how each tooth needs to be moved in order to reach the most optimal position. Dr. Rhoads will use this information as her guide to bonding the brackets directly to your teeth before inserting the wire. We use specific bends in the wire to encourage precise movements, with each bend providing a different type of pressure on different teeth. This process is called remodeling, and involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth.
Once your braces begin to put pressure on the tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts will start forming around its root. The pressure of the wire then 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 cycle of pressure, removal, and reforming that will move each tooth into the desired position, eventually giving you a smile that’s aligned and fully functional.
The remodeling process can only continue as long as constant pressure is being placed on the teeth. Once your braces are removed, that pressure is eliminated and your teeth will begin to settle into their new positions. But because the teeth eventually begin drifting back to their old positions if there’s not some sort of pressure holding them in place, retainers are an essential part of the overall orthodontic process!
As soon as your braces come off, Dr. Rhoads will provide you with a retainer. You should always wear it exactly as directed in order to keep your new smile in place and prevent any natural drifting from occurring.
Caring for your braces
When you’re in braces, brushing and flossing can come with a bit of a learning curve. However, you’ll be a pro in no time with a little patience and practice! We recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after eating and before you go to bed. Pay attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, and carefully clean in between the wires and teeth. If you have trouble reaching these areas, try using an interdental brush to help you remove any plaque and food particles.
Aim to floss at least once per day, preferably before bedtime so that you can take your time and do it correctly. Even though it can be hard to floss effectively around braces, it’s an important part of oral care that you shouldn’t skip. Instead, use a floss threader or oral irrigator to help remove any lingering debris. As useful as these supplemental tools can be, they shouldn’t take the place of your regular brushing and flossing routine.
Pay attention to your diet
As frustrating as food restrictions can be, they’re necessary to protect your braces and your teeth during treatment. While you’re wearing braces, you’ll need to steer clear of any foods that are too crunchy or too chewy. That includes things like chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, nuts, and many types of candy. The good news is, food restrictions don’t last forever. All your hard work will be worth it when we remove your braces and reveal your new smile for the very first time!
Treatment times vary
Every smile is unique, so each patient we see will respond to treatment in their own way. That’s why we can’t offer any “one size fits all” answers when it comes to how long treatment will take. Several other factors come into play, as well, including your specific needs, the severity of your case, and your level of compliance. That said, the active stage of treatment with braces tends to last from 6-24 months on average. This could be longer or shorter for you, depending on your particular case.
Get the best in braces treatment with Rhoads Orthodontic Specialist
If you haven’t yet made the decision about proceeding with orthodontic treatment, we’d love to meet you and share more about how orthodontics could benefit you and your smile! For more information, get in touch with our office to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Rhoads.