An Orthodontist Answers the Most Frequent Questions About Braces That Perplexed Us for Years
Hello, I’m Anna Lapteva. I am an orthodontist and, for the last 8 years, I’ve helped thousands of people get a beautiful smile. I am often asked about orthodontic treatment, and I’ve realized that there are still a lot of myths and prejudice about braces. Some people believe that braces harm teeth, that they are painful, and that only kids and teenagers should wear them.
Especially for Bright Side, I decided to answer the most common questions I’m asked during a patient’s first visit to alleviate any concerns and worries. This article won’t replace a visit to a specialist but it will help you get familiar with this treatment.
1. Can I put braces on just one tooth range?
At first glance, it seems like a money-saving solution to put braces only on the problematic tooth range. But it can totally ruin your treatment and your money will be wasted. Why?
There is a close connection between your top and bottom teeth. When moving certain teeth, the rest of them will also move. Bracket systems are not just used to make some of your crooked teeth line up. They also change the position of your jaw creating a functional occlusion. Your top and bottom teeth should occlude like clock gears.
Putting braces only on a problematic tooth range is ineffective. The system would end up pushing crooked teeth into the correct position, while the teeth from the opposite tooth range would try to reverse this process. This is why this kind of treatment could bring unexpected results and your occlusion might return to its original state.
In certain cases partial braces are allowed, but only if you have a regular bite and your tooth ranges are symmetrical.
2. Is it true that braces cause teeth to deteriorate?
This is not true. Braces will not cause your teeth to deteriorate if you take care of your mouth regularly and visit your dentist on time. Let’s have a look at the most common myths.
- Myth 1: Teeth rot under braces.
Nothing happens to the teeth under your braces (you may realize this after their removal). But food debris can accumulate around the braces. So if you don’t clean your teeth properly it can cause decay and provoke cavities, and this process can be really fast. If a patient doesn’t want to maintain their hygiene, I have to urgently stop the treatment and remove the braces.
- Myth 2: While removing braces, tooth enamel can crack.
This is a false statement. After braces are removed, your teeth will be perfectly fine. Braces are attached to teeth with special glue and some of it can remain on your teeth after the removal. These glue left-overs can be easily removed with a dental bur and after that teeth get polished.
- Myth 3: After the treatment, teeth can get loose and fall out.
No teeth will fall out after a competent treatment. It is true that teeth become movable which is normal because braces make them move but they also keep teeth in the necessary position.
After the treatment is finished, retainers will be attached to your teeth. Orthodontic retainers are custom-made devices, usually made of wires or clear plastic, that hold the teeth in position. There are also removable retainers like night guards and plates which you should wear at night. Ideally, you should use both systems. Retainers are necessary to make tooth attachment apparatus and bone tissues stronger. If you don’t follow your orthodontist’s recommendations, your teeth can return to their initial positions.
3. How can I find a good orthodontist?
You should choose your doctor really carefully because you’ll have to visit them on a regular basis for the next 1.5-2 years. There are a few important things you need to remember while choosing your future orthodontist.
- Diagnostics. To properly assess your situation and make a treatment plan, an orthodontist should make dental casts, calculate all the necessary measurements on these models, study your orthopantomogram, and take photos inside your mouth. Some orthodontists put on braces by just following their instincts, without preliminary examinations. I treat this approach with skepticism.
- Portfolio and reviews. If an orthodontist has a social media profile, it would be a good idea to have a look at the results of their work, like “before & after” photos. Don’t trust text only reviews on an orthodontist’s website. Usually these are written by the orthodontist themselves. Reviews that are found on independent resources are more trustworthy, but there could still be some paid reviews among these. Even the best doctors have negative reviews, it’s absolutely normal.
- Certificates and diplomas. They prove that a doctor has developed their skills in line with the industry standards and doesn’t use old-fashioned methods. It’s also worth paying attention to the validity of these certificates.
- Work schedule. If a doctor works non-stop (meaning each visit lasts for only 10–15 minutes) the price of the visit will be lower, but the doctor won’t have enough time to think clearly about every case in the proper way and there is a lot of thinking to do when working in orthodontics.
4. Until what age can I get braces?
There are no age limits in orthodontics. A person can wear braces in any age. Whether you are 15, 30, or 45, braces are assigned to solve the problem of your occlusion. Irregular bite patterns in adult patients should be treated in a slightly different way than those of teenagers, but these are just minor details, the results will be the same.
It’s a pretty widespread situation where people lose their teeth not only due to decay, but also because of their abnormal occlusion. When load distribution on teeth is irregular, it may lead to loss of the bone tissue. This means that braces should be installed not only for aesthetic reasons but also in order to literally save your teeth and keep them healthy for many years ahead.
5. I’m afraid I’ll have to eat only soups and blended foods after I get braces put on. Is this true?
It’s an interesting fact that many people are indecisive about wearing braces because they’re afraid they won’t be able to eat whatever they want and not because they are afraid to look ugly, because it’s too expensive, or because they have to spend more time on hygiene. They are convinced that they’ll have to give up all their favorite foods.
Well, there is a certain diet you need to follow while wearing braces, but it’s not as strict as it may seem. You just need to limit your consumption of certain foods or exclude them completely. For example, there are certain foods that are difficult to chew like crackers, nuts, hard candies, seeds, hard vegetables, and hard fruits (you need to cut them before eating). You should also exclude the following: candies, caramel, nougat, pastries, corn flakes, chips, and chewing gum. What’s bad about them? Viscous foods stick to braces and get between your teeth which provokes bacteria growth.
You should also limit the consumption of colorful drinks (for example, coffee, wine, dark juices, etc.), especially if you wear ceramic braces. And make sure that there are no drastic changes in temperature inside your mouth, otherwise your braces might become loose. So, it turns out that the limitations refer mostly to unhealthy food, and this kind of “diet” will only help you to stay healthy and improve your appearance.
6. Can I still have my teeth treated when I wear braces?
Of course you can. In certain situations the brace can even be removed from an affected tooth until the dental work is done, and then the brace can be put back on. But it’s important to be thorough with your oral hygiene to avoid these situations.
7. Is my irregular bite just bad aesthetically or are there other health issues that could develop because of it? What will happen if I don’t correct it?
Abnormal occlusion is not just a cosmetic defect, it is also a potential threat to your overall health. Irregular load distribution on your teeth might be the reason for enamel erosion, teeth becoming loose and falling out, and gum inflammation. In the future, it might lead to cavities, pulpitis, gingivitis, and even periodontitis.
The other possible downsides are facial asymmetry and the cracking of your jaw joints when you talk or eat. In certain cases, when one of your jaw joints is protruding too much, the occlusion of your teeth will be ruined, and you won’t be able to bite or chew properly. In this case, a dentofacial operation is recommended during which your occlusion will be corrected and its functionality will be restored.
The problem of an irregular bite usually comes along with various issues in different regions of your spine. The fact is that it negatively affects your chewing muscles which distribute the load on neighboring muscles, thus the position of your head changes, as well as your posture. Your body tries to compensate for the imbalance of your skeleton with the help of muscles. As a result, you’ll need help from not only an orthodontist, but also from an osteopath who will correct your posture.
So, as you can see irregular bite is more dangerous than just crooked teeth. And the sooner you take care of the health of your teeth, the less health problems you’ll have.
Bonus: How braces work
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Preview photo credit ICE Health Systems