Brace Yourself: What to Expect With Orthodontic Treatment
Although it's very common to have braces to straighten your teeth now, it can still be an intimidating process, especially for a child or teenager. The equipment involved may seem complex and intense, and as the average length of treatment is one to two years, it feels like a real commitment. However, there's really nothing to be nervous about. One way of reducing that anxiety is to understand exactly what the process involves — so here's what you can expect to happen when you get custom braces.
Before Treatment Begins
The orthodontist will need to make sure that your mouth is suitable for braces as-is. Most people will pass through this part of the process just fine, but it's not uncommon to need one or two teeth to be removed to make space for the rest of them to straighten. If this is necessary, you'll receive an injection to numb the mouth, and the extraction will be completely painless. Either way, this is nothing to worry about.
Applying the Brace
The exact process will depend on what kind of brace you'll be wearing. For traditional metal braces, small brackets will be glued to your teeth, and a wire will be fed through them. To begin with, this wire will be quite thin; as the process goes on and your teeth begin to move, this will be switched out for progressively thicker wires. Finally, a series of small elastic bands will hold that wire in place. The brace will feel unfamiliar at first, but this discomfort will not last; soon, you won't notice it's there.
On the whole, braces are completely painless. The only time you may feel some discomfort is after the wire is changed; a thicker wire will have a more powerful moving effect on your teeth. Because of this, it's normal to feel slightly achy or sore for a few days while you get accustomed to the new wire. However, not everybody experiences this, and those who do find it's more of an infrequent, brief irritation than anything else. How often the wires are changed will depend on your orthodontist's opinion on your progress, but it's common to go four to six weeks between appointments.
After the Brace
Once your teeth have been moved to a position that you and your orthodontist are happy with, the brace can be removed. Even if the brace isn't all that bad, this is often something wearers look forward to — because they can finally see their new smile! However, don't forget that the process doesn't end when the brackets and wires are taken away. A mould will be taken of your mouth, and a retainer will be crafted to fit you. You'll need to wear this retainer all the time for a few weeks to make sure your teeth don't move out of place. After that, you need only wear it at night.
It's really a very simple process. The most likely thing to irritate you is how long it takes — but that's a necessary evil, and will be well worth it in the end.