What does orthodontic treatment involve?
The fixed appliance – also known as a brace – once fitted, is fixed permanently to the teeth for the whole of your treatment. You should not try to remove it. This will damage your teeth and your treatment will not work.
Structure of a Fixed Brace
The brace is made of small brackets that are glued to the teeth. The brackets act as handles, holding your teeth and straightening them. The archwire, which runs through the brackets, moves the teeth. We start with the gentlest archwire and gradually move up through five sizes. The archwire is held in place by tiny elastic bands, which come in a variety of different colours, personalizing your fixed brace to suit you.
The Comfort of a Fixed Brace
The intensity of pain is only slight; the brace will be a little uncomfortable as you adjust to it over the first few days of wear. We recommend a soft diet and if necessary take one or two tablets of paracetamol or ibuprofen, to help the pain subside.
If a bracket comes off, we recommend you leave it until your next scheduled visit to us. If it becomes an ongoing problem and several break off then phone for an appointment to have the brace repaired. Our contact details can be found under the Contact Us option.
Often, as the teeth move, the archwire can sometimes stick out at the back. This may be a nuisance in scratching your cheek and lips. We provide soft wax to reduce this and you are welcome to come in to have the end cut off, if necessary.
You should be able to eat normally, within reason. For your orthodontic treatment to have full benefit, and in the shortest possible time, it is important you take care of your teeth and brace. In order to prevent damage to both, you should avoid the following:
- Toffees, boiled sweets, sugared chewing gum, chocolate bars, etc.
- Fizzy drinks including diet drinks, excessive amounts of fruit juice.
- Hard foods which might damage the brace such as crunchy apples, crusty bread rolls, etc.
- Hard foods can be eaten with care if you cut them up first.
Cleaning Your Teeth
It is important you brush your teeth well, three times per day and use fluoride toothpaste. Since the brace is fixed you cannot remove it for brushing, therefore it is extremely important to spend extra time brushing all around the brace and especially the between the gum line. If the dirt builds up, there is the chance your gums will bleed a lot which is a sign of gingivitis, the first development towards tooth decay. We have specially designed tooth brushes and fluoride mouthwashes for daily use that will help cleaning teeth with a fixed appliance. If possible, it is wise to carry a brush with you for your use after eating. Pay particular attention to brushing where the gums meet the teeth. Brushing may take a little longer when you have a fixed brace. A daily fluoride mouth rinse should also be used last thing at night, this will further protect your teeth. Failure to keep your teeth and brace clean will lead to permanent scarring of your teeth.
Stains and Discolouration
Poor cleaning and oral hygiene can cause your healthy teeth to deteriorate. To prevent gum disease, avoid too many fizzy drinks which will cause permanent decay marks. The importance of thorough brushing and the use of a fluoride mouthwash cannot be emphasised enough.
Treatment Time and Removal
Treatment usually takes around 18 months to straighten your teeth, occasionally it can be longer, depending on the severity of the case. “Traintrack” braces are an ideal choice for straightening teeth: they can appear aesthetically enhanced within months. Be aware, that if the brace is removed hastily, before the teeth have settled into their new positions, then the teeth will revert and become crooked again.
Usually a removable brace called a retainer is recommended to wear at night for at least 12 months. Sometimes a wire is fixed to the insides of the teeth to hold them straight.