ABC’s Of Braces: All You Need To Know Before Starting Treatment

With new technologies and treatment methods emerging in the orthodontics all the time, it can be easy to forget that traditional braces are still one of the best tools we have for creating beautifully aligned smiles. In fact, today’s braces are more comfortable and customizable than ever before! As a long-lasting, cost-effective solution for giving you a healthier, straighter smile, braces are hard to beat. That’s one reason why they remain the top orthodontic treatment year after year!

If you’ve recently decided to move forward with braces treatment here at Team Demas Orthodontics, we’re excited to work with you to improve your oral health and achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. We honor the trust you’ve placed in us, and want you to feel confident in your choice to pursue orthodontic treatment with our practice. Braces are one of the best investments you can make for yourself and your family, and as such, you may have some questions or concerns before beginning your treatment. This can be especially true if you aren’t sure what to expect from the process in the months ahead. 

To help you feel more comfortable with your upcoming orthodontic journey, our expert team has put together this guide to help you learn everything you need to know before getting your braces put on. Keep reading below to understand more about what braces actually are, how they work to straighten your teeth, and how you can get the most out of yours!

What are braces made of?

There are a number of moving parts involved in aligning your teeth with braces, but for brevity, we’ll just go over some of the most important ones.

Brackets

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.

Glue

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.

Wire

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.

Elastics

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.

Orthodontic bands

These stainless steel rings are cemented to the teeth using dental bonding agents to provide an anchor for braces and other orthodontic appliances. We don’t need to use these with every patient.

Ortho assistant scanning a patient's teeth

How do braces actually work?

Following your complimentary consultation with Dr. Demas, he will create a personalized treatment plan for you. This plan will include information on how each tooth needs to be moved in to reach the most optimal position. Using this information as a guide, Dr. Demas will then bond 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 it involves minor changes in the bone that surrounds the roots of teeth.

As the braces begin to put pressure on the tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts will start forming around the tooth’s 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. This pressure, removal, and reforming is what slowly moves each tooth into the desired position and eventually gives you a straighter smile!

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. However, the teeth will eventually start to drift back to their old positions if there’s not some sort of pressure holding them in place. This is where retainers come in! You’ll be given one as soon as your braces come off, and it’s imperative that you wear it exactly as directed. This is what will keep your new smile in place and prevent any natural drifting from occurring.

Caring for your braces

Learning to brush and floss with braces has a bit of a learning curve, but with patience and practice, you’ll be a pro in no time! We recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after eating and before you go to bed. Pay careful attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, and be sure to carefully clean in between the wires and teeth. If you have trouble reaching these areas, an interdental brush can often help you with removing any plaque and food particles.

You should be flossing at least once per day, preferably before bedtime so that you can take your time and do it correctly. It can be hard to floss effectively with regular dental floss while you’re in braces, but it’s an important part of oral care that you shouldn’t skip. Instead, try a floss threader or oral irrigator to help remove lingering debris and plaque. Keep in mind that as useful as they are, supplemental tools should not take the place of a regular brushing and flossing routine.

Food restrictions 

We know how frustrating food restrictions can be, but they’re necessary to protect your braces and your teeth during treatment. While you’re in braces, you’ll need to avoid anything that’s too crunchy or too chewy, including chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, nuts, and many types of candy. Fortunately, food restrictions are only temporary! Keep your treatment on track by sticking with them, and your hard work will all pay off when we remove your braces and you see your new smile for the very first time.

Dr. Demas working on a patient's teeth

Treatment times vary 

Because every smile we treat is unique, each patient will respond to treatment in their own way. That’s why we’re not able to offer any “one size fits all” answer when it comes to how long treatment will take. Several factors come into play, including your specific needs, the severity of your case, and your level of compliance. On average, however, the active stage of treatment with braces tends to last from 6-24 months. Of course, this may be longer or shorter for you, depending on the particulars of your case.

Get the smile you’ve been waiting for at Team Demas Orthodontics

If you haven’t yet made the decision to seek orthodontic treatment, we’d love to meet you and share more about the many ways that orthodontics could benefit your smile! For more information, get in touch with out Southington office to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Demas. This is the perfect time to take the first step towards the smile you’ve been waiting for!