How to start orthodontic treatment and what does it involve?
In order to start your orthodontic treatment, visit a dental office for consultation.
During such a visit, the doctor examines the inside and outside of your mouth and makes molds for control models. They also take a cephalometric X-ray (of your skull from the side) and a panoramic X-ray, as well as photographs. The results of this examination are used to create the patient's database that allows an experienced orthodontist to identify the type of malocclusion. Next, the doctor informs you about possible treatment and discusses the treatment plan with you.
The treatment plan is very important, because the doctor will tell you not only about the existing solutions and recommendations for treatment, but will also inform you if any other procedures are necessary, such as dental fillings or wisdom teeth extraction. For example, if you have severe caries, tartar or plaque, you need to complete dental treatment first. Only then can the orthodontic treatment begin.
Depending on the type of malocclusion and recommendations, the doctor will prepare a fixed or removable orthodontic appliance. With fixed braces, you will have to visit your orthodontist every 4-6 weeks in order to monitor the progress of treatment and, if necessary, to replace the archwires, elastic ligatures or additional elements. In case of a removable appliance, a check-up visit every 6-8 weeks is necessary.
But orthodontic treatment is not the last stage on your way toward a beautiful and healthy smile. After removing the braces, you need to go through the retention phase, so that the results of orthodontic treatment will last. This may take from two to seven years. The orthodontist will install fixed retainers, or thin wires glued to the back of your teeth. They do not interfere with speech, eating or oral hygiene and will stay in your mouth for 5-7 years. Another way is to wear a removable retention plate. For two months, you will have to wear it all the time, removing it only for eating and tooth cleaning.
This retainer should be worn for two years, with increasingly long pauses. In certain cases, the orthodontist may recommend thermal-forming retainer. If your treatment involved wearing a removable appliance, it will stay in your mouth as a retainer, but will no longer be adjusted.
The retention phase is very important in the orthodontic treatment because it helps retain the results of the treatment's active phase. If the retention phase is not implemented properly, the teeth may move back to their incorrect position. In the retention phase, the first check-up visit takes place one month after the removal of the orthodontic appliance, with the next visits after three months, half a year and a year.
What is wax used for?
The orthodontic appliance is made of elements that may irritate the inside of your mouth. To prevent that, if necessary, the orthodontist may cover these elements with wax which will form a protective layer separating them from the oral cavity's mucous membrane. This helps reduce the discomfort related to orthodontic treatment.
Why do ligatures change color?
The ligatures are elastic bands placed in the slots in braces in order to fix the archwire. They may be colored or the same color as braces. Strong colorants in certain foods may change their color (and the color of other elements in some other appliances), just like in case of tooth enamel. Some of the foods that may cause this include beetroot, red peppers, cherries, black currants, blueberries, chokeberries, coffee, tea, Coke, and red wine. Most often, the braces and the archwire are resistant to discoloration, but they may become tarnished due to the above-mentioned factors.
Can I repair the braces myself?
Even the most talented DIY person should not attempt to repair the braces because this may only aggravate the problem. If you have noticed a defect in your appliance, immediately contact your orthodontist. If you try to repair it yourself, it may work incorrectly, interfering with the course of treatment.
Can I use a water jet to clean my teeth?
A toothbrush alone is not sufficient for proper oral hygiene. A dental water jet is very useful for removing food residue from difficult-to-reach areas. In addition, if you are wearing a fixed appliance and you cannot use dental floss, the water jet is one of the most effective tools for improving your oral hygiene.
How soon will I notice the first results of orthodontic treatment?
Although orthodontic treatment is a complex process, the results are visible quite soon. A perceptive observer will notice them already at the first check-up visit. The effect will be more visible after three months or so. However, this time may vary greatly, since the orthodontic treatment is a very individual process.
Will tooth cleaning after eating prevent discoloration of braces?
Try to avoid foods that may cause discoloration. If you find it difficult to refrain from foods with strong colorants, clean your teeth and braces immediately after eating. This will help keep them in a good condition for longer.
What can I eat right after getting braces?
We know you may feel overwhelmed by orthodontic terminology, so we have created a glossary for you. In it, you will find information on braces, the most popular types of malocclusion, and different disorders. Also, the glossary will help you understand a range of words that you may hear at a dental office or you may come across while reading about the orthodontic-surgical treatment.