A recent study found that 33% of young adults in America avoid smiling because they’re embarrassed about the state of their teeth. That same study found that 82% of participants across all age groups believe that straight teeth can help you get ahead in life.
If either of these statements resonates with you, maybe it’s time to join the ranks of over four million Americans with braces!
Perhaps you’ve considered it, but you’re just not sure what to expect. After all, getting braces is a pretty big thing!
We’ve put together a quick beginners braces guide to help you prepare for those first few braces procedures. Read on so you can be one step closer to having a smile you love!
First Thing’s First: Schedule a Consultation with an Orthodontist
If you’re considering getting braces, talk to your regular dentist about getting a referral to an orthodontist. There are a few routine procedures an orthodontist will perform to decide if braces are the right thing for you.
These routine procedures aren’t too bad, but it’s good to know what to expect.
Your orthodontist will need to take Xrays of your mouth and head, as well as some photographs of your teeth. This will allow them to get a sense of your problem areas and how much space you have in your mouth.
They’ll also need to make an impression of your teeth by setting a plaster mold. You will be asked to bite down on a tray filled with soft plaster for a few minutes, which can be unpleasant for some people. Fortunately, it doesn’t last long!
Leading up to the Procedure: Prepare Yourself for Getting Braces
Those first few weeks that you have your braces, it may seem like a lot has changed. There are a few ways to prepare yourself for that adjustment period.
Enjoy Crunchy and Chewy Treats Before You Get Your Braces
Do you love potato chips and popcorn? Are you a big gum chewer? Are sticky candies like toffee or sour gummies your weakness?
You may want to have one last hoorah with your favorite crunchy and chewy treats before you get your braces because some foods will be more difficult to eat and some, like sugary gum or sticky candy, are straight-up no-nos.
Stock up on Soft Foods
You won’t have to live on a diet of soup and smoothies the entire time you have braces, but soft foods may be your go-to in the first few weeks after you’ve gotten your braces. It’s not uncommon for the teeth and gums to feel a bit sore as you adjust to the movement of your teeth.
Go to the store in advance and grab some of your favorite soft foods. That way, you don’t have to worry about it after the procedure! You can start chowing (or slurping) down right away!
Prepare Yourself Mentally
Having braces will change the way your mouth and smile look. Eventually, you’ll get used to your metal-studded grin, but at first, it may look a little foreign to you.
If you’re concerned about the way your braces are going to look on, keep your mind focused on how much you’re going to love your smile once they’re off! Remember, braces are temporary, but your beautiful smile will stay with you for years to come!
And, of course, if you really can’t stand the look of braces, there are alternative teeth-straightening procedures that you can consider.
Time for the Big Day: What to Expect from the First Brace Procedure
It’s time for your braces installation. This will usually take about 1-2 hours, and the procedure itself is usually pain-free.
Your orthodontist will give you a thorough cleaning before drying your teeth. This may feel a little funny, but it ensures that the adhesive will do its job!
Next up is the adhesive, which your orthodontist will apply to all teeth that need a brace. (For a lot of people, this will be every single tooth, but that’s not always the case!) The metal braces will be attached one by one and will quickly dry in place.
Finally, the arch wire will be installed and attached to each brace with a teeny elastic band. This is the fun part—you get to choose your colors!
If you don’t want your braces to attract a lot of attention, go with a clear elastic band. If your braces are the life of the party, pick whatever fun colors you want! Some people like to match their elastics to the season (for example, orange and purple for Halloween), but that’s totally up to you!
Your orthodontist will give you the braces information you need to take care of your teeth. You’ll schedule your next appointment to have your wires tightened and be on your way!
The First Few Weeks: Post-Braces Installation Discomfort
There’s no point in telling you that your braces won’t cause you some mild discomfort in the first few weeks after you’ve had them installed. It won’t be excruciating, and it won’t last forever, but there are a few things to expect.
First of all, your cheeks and tongue aren’t quite used to this strange new object. You may experience some sensitivity at first.
If you’re finding this sensitivity unbearable, talk to your orthodontist about braces wax! Braces wax is a non-toxic wax that you break into small pieces and apply to each brace. It smooths over the surface of your metal brace, making it less of an irritant for your mouth.
You will also experience some soreness of the teeth and gums, but this should only last about a week or so, and soft foods will cut down on some of that discomfort.
The soreness will likely come back after each tightening, but again, it will die down in a week or so!
Don’t Forget the Importance of Teeth Cleaning
Getting braces will change your teeth-cleaning routine. For example, you will need to use a threader to floss, and you’ll really have to focus on those hard to reach areas around your braces when you brush.
Having straight teeth isn’t the only way to create a beautiful smile! Clean, white teeth will make your smile that much brighter, even when the braces are still on.
Make an appointment with us so we can make sure your teeth and gums are happy and healthy during your journey with braces!