The health benefits of braces are abundant. Crooked, misplaced, and crowded teeth can make cleaning very difficult, causing an enormous risk of tooth decay, which is not only unsightly and painful, but also affects the overall health of the rest of your body.
Modern orthodontics practices offer many treatment options to help you or a loved one achieve a healthy smile with straight teeth and a properly-aligned jaw. The most common options are traditional and clear braces.
Types of Braces
Traditional (metal) Braces
Traditional braces consist of the metal brackets and wires that most people associate with “braces.” However, traditional braces are anything but old-fashioned. Improvements in materials and technology have made modern brackets smaller and less noticeable. The arch wires that help move and align the teeth have also been improved, with special technology which allows them to use your body heat to help move your teeth more efficiently and with less discomfort than in the past.
Clear or Ceramic Braces
Clear or ceramic braces are the same size and shape as metal braces, but are designed to be clear or tooth-colored, and are less visible. Tooth colored wires are also available to help them to blend in.
Both traditional and clear braces consist of three main components:
- Brackets: Brackets are attached to the teeth using special glue that bonds them to the tooth surface. Brackets remain attached for the duration of treatment.
- Archwire: The archwire is the thin metal wire that connects each bracket and puts pressure on the teeth to help guide them into place.
- Ligature Elastic: Elastics, also referred to as “rubber bands”, are the colored ties that hold the archwires to the brackets. Elastics come in a variety of colors, including clear, and are usually changed at each adjustment visit.
Appliances are another component of orthodontic treatment that may be necessary for some patients, depending upon the treatment and correction needed. Appliances may be fixed (attached), or removable. Appliances, such as orthodontic headgear, are designed to correct alignment or move the teeth in a very specific way. Once the appliance has done its job, it will no longer be needed. Not everyone will need an orthodontic appliance to complete treatment. During your orthodontic consultation the orthodontist will review recommended treatment, including any appliances, and provide an estimate for about how long they will be needed. Just like the entire treatment process, appliances typically are the most effective when worn or used as instructed by your orthodontist.
The Steps Involved in Having Braces:
Taking a full set of original records is the first step to completing orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic records usually consist of a set of x-rays, impressions or study models, and photographs. The first set of records is designed to show where you are at the very beginning of treatment, and helps to track progress throughout the treatment process. Your orthodontist may need to take additional x-rays or photos during treatment and will also take another set at the completion of treatment to show the final results.
Once the initial set of records is complete, the next step is bonding. In many cases, the records and bonding appointments can be done on the same day. Bonding is one of the longest appointments, and usually takes up to 90 minutes to complete. In this visit, your orthodontist and the staff will clean and prepare your teeth to have the brackets glued, or bonded, to your teeth. Your orthodontist will use study models and your records to correctly position the brackets on each tooth, using a special bonding agent and a curing light. Once all of the brackets are bonded, your orthodontist will insert the arch wires, which are held in place by the brackets. Finally, the elastics, or rubber bands, are placed over the brackets, holding the arch wires in place.
Once your bonding is complete, your orthodontist and staff will take the time to go over special tips and techniques for home care and maintenance to ensure your treatment goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. This information includes what foods to avoid, how to brush and clean between your brackets and wires, a review of the home care kit, instructions on handling common issues such as poking wires, frequency of appointments for adjustment of the brackets, and any specific instructions relating to appliances or special aspects of your treatment.
Once your bonding is complete, your jaw and teeth will begin to move, whether or not you can tell by looking in the mirror. Most adjustment appointments occur every 4 to 6 weeks and are fairly brief. Your orthodontist will assess your progress, talk with you about how you are doing and review any recommendations regarding at home oral hygiene and care, or appliance progress. Your orthodontist will also adjust the tension on the arch wires. Keeping up with adjustment appointments and following your orthodontist’s instructions and recommendations is the best possible way to make sure your braces treatment is as fast and effective as possible.
Once your treatment is complete, it is time to take your braces off! Many people find this to be a great day to celebrate their hard work and progress. During the debonding appointment, the elastics, arch wires, and brackets are removed from your teeth. Next, your teeth are cleaned and polished. Then comes the best part: looking at your new, gorgeous smile and taking final records and photographs to compare to the originals. You will also have impressions made for retainers which will usually be ready in about two weeks.
Retainers are the final step in orthodontic treatment. Retainers are designed to make sure your hard work pays off and your new smile stay properly aligned. Retainers may be fixed to the back of your teeth, or may be a removable unit made of plastic and wire. Learn more about orthodontic retainers.
Insurance Coverage and Cost of Braces Treatment
Orthodontic consultations are always 100% free at 1st Family Dental, and do not require a commitment to start treatment. During your consultation, a member of our staff will carefully review your customized treatment plan. Our treatment estimates are comprehensive, and include all elements of treatment from start to finish.
Whether or not you have dental insurance, we offer interest free financing options and convenient payment schedules to help ensure your investment your future is also a manageable part of your monthly budget.
Signs and Symptoms:
How do I know if I might need orthodontic treatment or braces?
We always recommend a complimentary consultation with an orthodontist if you notice the following issues:
- Protrusion of teeth
- Difficulty chewing or biting, biting the insides of the lips or mouth
- Crowding or extra spacing between teeth, difficulty flossing or brushing due to crowding
- If you are hiding your smile because of crooked, misaligned or protruding teeth, or feel that these issues have caused you to potentially miss out on social or career opportunities
How can I make a consultation or appointment for braces treatment?
We are proud to offer all levels of orthodontic services, including traditional and clear braces as well as Invisalign® at every 1st Family Dental location. Our licensed and experienced orthodontic specialists are accepting new patients.
Post-procedure care for traditional and clear braces treatment
After the bonding and adjustment appointments, you may feel some tenderness or sensitivity. This is common and will typically subside after a few hours. Your orthodontist will discuss typical over the counter remedies.
Alternative Treatment Options
Braces are the most common type of orthodontic treatment. Braces are a series of brackets that are carefully measured and fixed to the teeth, and connected with wires designed to align and move the teeth. 1st Family Dental offers traditional metal braces, as well as ceramic or tooth-colored brackets and wires that are designed to be more discreet.
Invisalign®, or a series of custom aligner trays, is another treatment option that may be available for some patients. Your orthodontist will be happy to review all treatment options during the consultation process.
Frequently Asked Questions about braces treatment
Please review our FAQ section for questions about braces.