If you are thinking of starting an orthodontic treatment, it is useful to know as much about braces as possible before getting them, as they will be on your teeth for quite some time. Here are 10 things that frequently confound patients, or that they wish they would have known before getting braces.
1) Activation sessions are mandatory
Activation sessions are when the dentist tightens the braces or otherwise adjusts them to further the treatment. If you want the desired result in the allotted time, you should not miss any activation sessions.
2) Dental braces may hurt sometimes
A certain amount of pain, particularly after each activation session and when the braces first go on can be expected. This pain should subside in a day or so, and should become more and more bearable as time goes on.
3) Oral health
Taking care of your teeth is more important than ever. You will need to get certain gear, like an interdental toothbrush to make sure that you do not get a gum infection or a cavity while in braces.
4) Differences are not always visible
Although getting braces for aesthetic reasons is completely legitimate, some significant changes may not be visible at first, but are very, very important. Correcting your bite may not improve your smile, but can alleviate head and neck pains, reduce the likelihood of cavities and of tooth decay, and of xerostomia or chronic dry mouth.
5) No age limit for orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic treatment has no upper age limit; if you have adult teeth, and they are misaligned, aligning them is a good idea. You do have to wait until most of the teeth are adult teeth and the 12 year molars have already erupted.
6) Orthodontic treatment time is not set in stone
There are many factors that can influence treatment time, and some of them (like patient participation, for example) may not be apparent when you start your orthodontic treatment. It is safe to assume that your treatment time may be around 10-20% longer than expected, that way you should be done by the time you planned. In certain, very lucky cases the treatment time can be shorter than previously expected.
7) The soft tissues
Orthodontic treatment can be rough on the soft tissues, especially your gums. Your gums, tongue and the inside of your cheek can be caught in, scratched up by, and irritated by your new braces. This should subside as the treatment wears on, but a certain amount of discomfort to your soft issues can be expected.
8) Consultations are free
Once you start treatment, consultations are free. Take advantage of them and talk to your dentist whenever you have questions or need some reassurance or information about your orthodontic treatment.
9) White spots and cavities after orthodontic treatment
It is not unheard of to have cavities and demineralized zones, or white blotches, on the tooth surfaces after the braces come off. These can be easily dealt with, either with a filling or with some fluoride gel or ointment. It is a good idea to stock up on some fluoride products for when the braces come off.
Most orthodontic treatment ends with a retention phase, one that can last indefinitely. If you do not want all the hard work you have put into your orthodontic treatment to go to waste, you need to wear your retainer in the allotted manner, and for the allotted time.