According to The British Orthodontic Society (BOS), the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment in the UK continues to rise. Among these sought-after treatments are teeth braces. Braces are fixed orthodontic devices to correct crowded, crooked, or gapped teeth. They are also used to treat misaligned jaw and bite problems or malocclusion.
Orthodontic treatment aims to bring the teeth into proper alignment and correct the bite’s position. As a long-term result, the health of the teeth, gums, and jaw is maintained, and patients can enjoy a marked improvement in their appearance!
If you are looking to have your smile straightened and are considering fixed metal braces (the most common type), read along to find out what it’s like to live with teeth braces.
Firstly, what do braces feel like?
Once fixed braces are in position, they may feel slightly strange at first, and you may have slight difficulty pronouncing certain words or sounds. Typically this is a temporary thing as your tongue and mouth will get used to them. However, fixed braces are made from hard metal, and any sharp edges may rub against the tongue and on the inside of the lips and cheek. This can cause injury if left. Therefore, if the wire on the braces is poking or rubbing on the mouth’s soft tissues, contact your orthodontist or dentist as soon as possible. They will make the necessary adjustments to make treatment more comfortable for you.
You may also feel general soreness or aching during initial placement and after every braces adjustment. Slight discomfort is natural and signifies that your teeth are on the move. Again and typically, any pain or discomfort should dissipate within a few days and can normally be controlled with standard over-the-counter pain-killers like Ibuprofen or Aspirin. These are normal sensations since constant pressure is applied to the teeth to encourage them to move.
Eating with braces
It’s important to note that living with fixed teeth braces also means observing certain dietary restrictions. Avoid sticky foods where possible, as they can cause the brackets or wires to separate from the tooth. Also, you might want to steer clear of overly crunchy foods as they can get trapped between the teeth and brackets, which, in turn, makes teeth harder to clean. Finally, avoid extremely hard foods like rock candies, which may cause your braces to fracture.Just to recap some of the foods you should avoid are:
- Hard food (candies)
- Sticky food (caramel)
- Crunchy food (popcorn)
What about brushing with teeth braces?
Good dental hygiene is vital when wearing braces. In fact, swollen gums or gingivitis are common, especially when a healthy oral hygiene routine is neglected. Leftover food, bacteria, and plaque can quickly build up around your braces, which can cause cavities, gum disease, and much more.
Keep teeth and gums clean and healthy with regular tooth brushing. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently remove food particles lodged or stuck in your metal braces and take time to ensure all surfaces are cleaned. Your dentist may also suggest special angled or tapered toothbrushes for braces.
What about flossing with braces?
It isn’t easy to use regular dental floss because a wire runs across the braces attached to your teeth, making it challenging to clean in between the teeth properly. You may opt to slide the floss past the wire, or you can use a special interdental brush. This has tiny bristles that make it easy to get between the teeth to remove food debris and plaque. Alternatively, you may want to use a water flossing device. This device sprays a direct jet of water into the nooks and crevices of your teeth, eradicating any plaque before it has time to build up.
What happens if a bracket accidentally comes off?
Another concern of brace wearers is when one of the metal brackets detaches from the tooth. It’s not uncommon and may happen when consuming hard or chewy food, or brushing the teeth too hard.
Don’t panic. Losing a bracket isn’t necessarily a dental emergency but call your dentist or orthodontist to arrange for them to reattach it as soon as possible. If the bracket is still attached to the wire, do your best not to move it around with your tongue. And if it comes off completely, take care not to swallow it. Place the bracket in a bag and bring it to your dental clinic.
General care and maintenance for teeth braces
See your orthodontist for regular braces adjustments so they can track your progress. Bi-annual dental check-ups are also essential to maintain your oral health and address unanticipated problems before they worsen. Professional dental hygiene cleaning is also necessary to keep your mouth free from plaque.
The average treatment duration of braces is 18 months, although this can be more or less depending on the individual. With excellent oral hygiene and proper maintenance, living with braces can be relatively problem-free.
Are there any braces alternatives?
In a word, yes! Clear aligners are a virtually invisible teeth-straightening alternative for mild to moderate teeth misalignment. Unlike metal teeth braces that are fixed to the mouth for the duration of your treatment, clear aligners are a series of removable customised trays worn sequentially – each one is worn for around two weeks before it’s swapped out for the next one in the series.
So, are they better than fixed metal braces?
Well, that really is down to preference, but one thing’s for sure, clear aligners are generally easier to live with than teeth braces, and here’s why.
Many patients love clear aligners because they’re fabricated from soft, clear plastic. As a result, they provide a more discreet and comfortable option than conventional fixed teeth braces. Because there are no brackets and wiring involved in the treatment, the risk of injury to the gums and cheeks is avoided, plus there’s no need to worry about any brackets coming off.
Aligners can also be conveniently removed. When you have to eat, simply, take them out, eat your favourite food, and brush your teeth before putting them back in. No dietary restrictions are necessary, so you can continue to partake in all of your favourite foods.
Cleaning aligners is also easy. Simply remove and brush them using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse them before placing them back over your teeth. At this time, you can also brush and floss your teeth as you usually would. With these no-fuss steps, it’s easier to keep your aligners in tip-top shape while maintaining excellent oral health.
Lastly, clear aligners do not require frequent dental visits. Progress checks are scheduled every 6–8 weeks. Meanwhile, your aligner trays are issued in batches, so there’s no need to keep visiting the dentist.
The bottom line on living with teeth braces
Transitioning to teeth braces can take some getting used to, especially with the changes that you will need to incorporate in your life. However, this stage should not take too long. The longer you wear your braces, the easier it gets. Remember, everything will seem worth it once your beautifully straight smile is revealed when your treatment ends.
Of course, if these changes in your lifestyle don’t seem worth the hassle, then there is always the option to straighten your teeth at home with clear aligners from Straight My Teeth, options that produce excellent results in as little as 4 to 6 months.
However, remember that clear aligners are best suited for mild to moderate misalignments and aren’t for everyone. It is always best to consult with a dentist to determine which is best for your situation.
Want to Straighten Your Teeth with Braces?
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Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Kishor Kumar Pradhan