So, you’ve been told that you or your child needs braces. You’re excited at the prospect of a beautiful smile and healthy mouth, but are wondering what exactly is involved in the process. Outlined below is the start to finish steps of how braces work—the adventure that is about to improve your looks, confidence and smile!
1. The Consultation
This is when you meet the person who will change your future – at least as far as your mouth is concerned. At this appointment the orthodontist will determine what issues need to be addressed – do you have an overbite? Underbite? Jaw misalignment? Teeth that have too many spaces in between or are too crowded? The doctor will ask a lot of questions about any discomfort you have and what your ultimate smile goal is. State-of-the-art digital X-rays will be taken and options discussed.
2. X-Rays and Record Photos
X-Rays and record photos are usually done as part of your consultation. Panoramic and profile X-rays or radiographs are taken, along with records photos of the teeth/bite from various angles—such as the frontal smile and profile—in order to assess each individual case and determine a recommended treatment plan. 3D digital radiographs may be taken if it is determined that someone has an impacted tooth. Unlike traditional X-ray machines which require film processing, digital requires 90% less radiation exposure and produce images that are exceptionally clear and detailed.
From here, the orthodontist will decide what type of braces are best – options include state of the art “Damon System” braces (which use extremely light forces to move teeth), clear ceramic “self-litigating” braces, or Invisalign, which use a series of clear, removable aligners to move the teeth.
3. The Fitting and Application
Each mouth is unique and so is each set of braces. The X-rays and digital images mean that a device will be tailored very specifically to you or your child.
If the treatment option is clear or ceramic braces, the teeth will have an adhesive applied to help bond the brackets to the teeth. Your custom brackets and wires will then be attached, and presto—your braces are on.
4. Moving On…
No matter which type of braces are applied, they all work by the same principle – exerting gentle pressure on the teeth to move them into place. As the teeth begin to shift, the braces will need to be adjusted or the Invisalign tray changed. Patients visit their orthodontist periodically to make sure the braces accommodate the changes. Adjustments sometimes mean slight discomfort for a short time, which is normal. These appointments may be made every few weeks or even monthly depending on need.
5. Done Already?
The day will come when the braces are removed, or you will no longer need to wear your Invisalign tray. Congratulations! During this time your orthodontist will give you or your child a retainer – a removable appliance that helps keep teeth in their new position. The retainer must be worn for a period of time after the orthodontic treatment, usually each night while sleeping.
But don’t worry about missing your orthodontist too much – you’ll still see them 2 or 3 times over the first year following the removal of the braces to monitor progress.
For a more detailed look at the process behind orthodontic treatment and learning how the various options work, download the FREE guide: How Do Braces Work? The 4 Steps of Treatment.