Orthodontics is a type of dentistry that aims to correct issues with the alignment of your teeth and jaw.
Braces are a common orthodontic treatment to fix tooth and jaw problems like overbites, underbites and crooked teeth. They’re often fitted while you’re in your teens because your bones and mouth are still developing at that time, but many adults get orthodontic treatment too.
A dentist at your local Bupa-owned clinic can talk to you about whether orthodontic treatment is right for you. It’s best to start with a consultation so that a professional can identify any issues and explain your options.
If you want to find out more about what it’s like to have braces, keep reading!
On this page
- The first few days of braces
- How much do braces affect your everyday life?
- How to best look after your braces
- What to expect when you get your braces removed
The first few days of braces
The first week of having braces tends to be the most unusual. It's when you'll be getting used to the feel of the braces on your teeth. It’s also when you'll learn how to look after them and when your teeth will slowly begin to move into their new positions.
It's normal to expect some discomfort during this time as your teeth move. Over-the-counter painkillers are generally fine to relieve this discomfort. It’s also a good idea to stock up on soft foods, even preparing a few soups and smoothies in advance. Orthodontists sometimes suggest ulcer cream if you find that the braces rub against the inside of your cheeks.
It’s important to keep in mind that the first few days are often the hardest adjustment, but that it gets much easier and more comfortable after that!
How much do braces affect your everyday life?
Braces don’t often have a huge impact on your everyday life, especially once you’ve had them for a little while. However, your circumstances will depend on the type of treatment you receive.
One of the biggest impacts will be on the type of foods you can eat. You might find that some foods can become stuck in the braces (such as popcorn and apples). Hard sweets and highly sticky treats such as toffee are off-limits as they can damage your braces, so it’s best to avoid them.
After your first appointment, your orthodontist will book you in for regular check-ups where you may have your bar adjusted and where you can change the colour of the bands on your braces. Again, it's normal to experience a little discomfort after these appointments when the bar is tightened. This tightening will help continue the corrective movement of your teeth.
You may need to wear additional bands while you have braces. These bands will need to be removed during meal times because they can dislodge while you’re chewing.
How to best look after your braces
Your orthodontist will give you detailed instructions on how to keep your braces in the best condition possible. Looking after them can mean that you get them taken off sooner than expected.
It’s vital to brush well after meals. You should also use a small brush to clean in the gaps under the bar. You’ll need to be careful with what you eat because some substances such as fizzy drinks can weaken the tooth structure around the braces. This could be a problem once your braces are removed, as it could result in the early stages of decay and enamel that looks different from the areas where your braces were attached.
What to expect when you get your braces removed
As soon as you get your braces taken off, the surface of your teeth will probably feel ultra-smooth! It may take a few days to get used to this sensation, but the process is usually painless.
Your orthodontist will make a mould of your teeth and will create a “plate” from it. You will wear this plate for a certain time (individual circumstances will vary), taking it off when you eat. Eventually, you’ll only have to wear the plate at night, and after that you won't have to wear it at all. This plate is to ensure your teeth don't move away from their corrected position after the braces are gone.
The orthodontist may also install a thin metal bar which is stuck to the back of your teeth, as another way to stop your teeth from shifting.