Braces, the Science Behind Them and How to Get Adjusted
How do braces work?
Braces consist of brackets (the individual brace for each tooth) that are glued to the teeth. This gives us a handle to grab onto the tooth and apply proper forces. Wires are attached to the brackets, using small colored elastics or o-rings.
We start with thin, flexible wires that are pre-formed into an ideal arch form (or a broad “U” shape). When the wire is tied into all of the brackets, it immediately starts bending back into it’s original “U” shape. So imagine that you have an almost ideal arch of teeth, except that one tooth is set back compared to the others. When the wire is inserted and engaged, the wire is mostly relaxed except in the area where we forced it to go back to engage that tooth that is set back. In this area, the wire will be trying to relax forward into the original “U” shape.
As a result, the wires apply a light force to the tooth which will have the effect of gently dragging that tooth forward into position. Similarly, the same idea works with teeth that are rotated, too high or low, etc. We start with extremely light, flexible wires. However, as the teeth get into better alignment, we are able to use stronger, thicker, and stiffer wires to accomplish smaller and more precise movements.
Finally, when all the teeth are aligned on very strong wires, we can use elastics (rubber bands) with the braces to align the bite. When both the teeth and the bite are aligned, we are finished and can remove the braces! Teeth will always want to go back to where they came from originally, which is why retainers are important after we remove the braces.
Do braces hurt?
Getting your braces put on does not hurt. We go through a process of cleaning and conditioning the teeth before we stick the brackets on. Afterward, the brackets are glued to the teeth and the glue is set with a very bright blue light. There are no needles and no pain!
It is only after the teeth start to move (usually a few hours after braces are placed), that they feel sore. This feeling is similar to how your muscles feel after a hard workout, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while.
How to Deal with the Temporary Soreness of Braces
However, you can deal with the temporary soreness with these simple tips:
- For the first few days after braces are on, stick to softer foods. Try eating more soups, eggs, applesauce, and pasta.
- Take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen — the same amount you normally take for a headache.
- Also, chew sugar-free gum. Often this helps get the blood flowing around your teeth and relieves pressure.
- Frequently, when people first get braces, it takes a few days for the lips and cheeks to get used to having something new rubbing against them. Some people adjust faster than others. But if something is really bothering your lip or cheek, use wax to help round out or soften sharp edges or points that irritate soft tissue.
- If you do get a mouth sore from your braces, don’t touch them. The more you touch, the more it hurts.
- Stay away from acidic drinks such as lemonade or tomato juice. These acidic beverages sting.
- Sometimes you get sore from biting the inside of your mouth while adjusting to your braces. Cheer up, these sores typically heal fast. Before long, you adjust to your braces in Shawnee, Norman, Moore, or the Oklahoma City area.
- Treat painful mouth sores with Anbesol or Orajel. This numbs the area and provides temporary relief.
- Rinse your mouth with a weak warm saltwater solution. This eases irritation and speeds the healing process.
Be assured, things get better. The soreness means that your teeth are moving which is exactly what we want to happen. The inside of your mouth will toughen up and stop getting irritated by the braces. Most people are only sore for a few days before adjusting to new braces.
What are the pros and cons of Braces?
The Pros of Braces
- Braces are predictable. They are less dependent on the patient’s cooperation since the brackets and wires are always in and always working.
- Wires are good at making even difficult tooth movements. For example, braces help to retrieve impacted teeth (teeth that are stuck in the gums/bone and are not erupting properly on their own).
- Wearing braces has less of an effect on speech patterns as Invisalign.
- Braces are customizable with bracket shapes and color ties to accessorize outfits and allow expression of personality.
- Plus, braces are cost-effective. In most cases, traditional metal brackets are the most economical way to achieve a great outcome.
The Cons of Braces
- Each adjustment is a bit more uncomfortable and causes more soreness than each aligner change with Invisalign.
- Lips and cheeks require more time to adjust to brackets and wires than to aligners.
- Diet modifications are necessary to avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods that break brackets and bend wires.
- New techniques for brushing and flossing are required to clean around and between brackets and wires.
Color Options for Braces
One thing to know is that bracket color and style are permanent. In other words, if you choose ceramic brackets, you will have ceramic brackets until the end of treatment. So if you really want gold brackets, you need to pick them at the beginning. But even though your bracket style is locked in, the look of your braces is modifiable during adjustment.
Usually, when folks think about adding color to their braces, they are considering the color ties that hold the wire in the brackets. We change out these flexible ties at every appointment. For that reason, you can change your color depending on your mood, the time of year, your best friend’s colors, prom, or whatever!
Many students get school colors to support their schools. Red and green are very popular at Christmas time. Usually, color changes can be made about once every 30-45 days.