beginning treatment

The day you begin orthodontic treatment is a special day. Information below describes what to expect the day you begin your treatment with braces or aligners.

Braces

Is there anything that needs to be done before getting braces?

Before getting braces, visit your family dentist for a cleaning and check-up. Ask your orthodontist how far ahead of your appointment to get braces that your dental appointment should be. Visits to your dentist should continue at least every six months for the duration of treatment, or more often, if recommended. If you typically take an antibiotic before dental visits, make sure to notify your orthodontist, who will advise you if pre-medication is recommended before the appointment to place braces. In addition, let your orthodontist know of any allergies you have, especially any allergies to metals including nickel.

Will spacers be needed?

About a week before braces are applied, the orthodontist may insert “spacers between back molars. These create space between the teeth for bands that go around the back molars. Let your orthodontist know if these “spacers” fall out prior to your next appointment.

What happens the day braces are put on – do I need to do anything special to prepare?

The day you get braces, eat as usual. Teeth must be clean, so brush and floss thoroughly after eating.

How are braces applied?

A retractor will be placed in the mouth to keep the mouth open comfortably. This will also help to keep the mouth as dry as possible. The tooth surface will be etched with a mild solution. After a few seconds, the tooth will be rinsed. Then, a special adhesive will go on each tooth, and the bracket will be added on top of the adhesive. Excess adhesive will be removed, and the rest will be “cured” with a special light. After all of the brackets have been placed and the adhesive has been cured, the orthodontic wire will be threaded through the slots in the brackets. Depending on the type of braces you are getting, the wire can be held to the tooth using a clip that is built into the bracket (“self-ligating” braces), or by a series of a tiny rubber bands called “ligatures,” which come in many colors. At the end of the appointment, a team member will explain how to brush and floss with braces, review what foods to avoid (hard, sticky and chewy) so braces are not broken, and what to do if you experience any difficulties with your braces. This is a great time to ask any questions about the care of your new braces. For the duration of treatment, make sure to limit your intake of sugary or acidic drinks to avoid decalcification.

How long does it take to get braces?

It takes approximately 90-120 minutes.

Will getting braces cause discomfort?

No. Getting braces applied does not cause discomfort.

Will you use needles?

No.

Will I be able to eat after braces are applied?

Yes. At first, you may want to consider foods that require little or no chewing such as soup, pudding, mashed potatoes, applesauce, ice cream, etc. As you become more accustomed to your braces, chewing will become easier.

How will the mouth feel after getting braces?

Expect some mild discomfort for the first few days. This is temporary and can be relieved by rinsing with warm salt water (1 tsp. salt to 8 oz. of warm water), or by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.  Cold soft foods such as ice cream and pudding are helpful as well.

Will I take part in typical daily activities the day braces are applied?

You should be fine going to work or school and taking part in your usual activities.

How should teeth and braces be cared for?

Your orthodontist or a member of the orthodontist’s staff will brief you on brushing, flossing, toothpaste, rinses, other hygiene tools, as well as foods to enjoy and foods to avoid. AAO videos offer some general tips on what to eat and brushing and flossing.

Aligners

Is there anything that needs to be done before getting aligners?

Before you get aligners, visit your family dentist for a cleaning and check-up.  Visits to your dentist should continue at least every six months for the duration of treatment, or more often, if recommended.

What happens the day I get aligners – do I need to do anything special to prepare?

The day you get aligners, eat as usual. Just brush and floss thoroughly after eating.

How are aligners applied?

A retractor will be placed in the mouth to keep the mouth open comfortably. This will also help to keep the mouth as dry as possible. Next, so that attachments bond to the tooth enamel, the tooth surface will be etched with a mild solution. After a few seconds, the tooth will be rinsed. Then, a special adhesive will go in the aligner trays and they will be placed on the teeth and cured with a special light. After all of the attachments have been placed and the adhesive has been cured, any excess adhesive will be removed.  Your first aligners will snap into place. Your orthodontist will demonstrate how to put your aligners in and take them out. When you first put a set in, they won’t be an exact fit. They’ll be off by just a fraction of a millimeter. But that’s the idea – so that your teeth move to fit the aligner. They’ll be a little tight at first, and then start to loosen up.

How long does it take to get aligners?

You should be in and out of the office within an hour.

Are tooth-colored bumps on teeth necessary?

It depends on your treatment plan. Talk to your orthodontist about whether you will need these attachments to move your teeth.

Will getting aligners cause discomfort?

No. Getting aligners will not cause discomfort.

Will you use needles?

No.

How many aligners will I get?

Your orthodontist will probably give you a few sets of aligners, and instruct you to wear a set for one to two weeks before changing to the next set. You will get additional sets of aligners when you see your orthodontist at your routine appointment.

How long do I wear aligners?

Aligners need to be worn at least 22 hours a day. Take them out to eat or to drink anything except for tap water. Then clean your teeth before putting your aligners back in. They can only move teeth when they are in your mouth.

Can you eat after getting aligners?

Yes. At first, you may want to consider foods that require little or no chewing such as soup, pudding, mashed potatoes, applesauce, ice cream, etc.  

How will the mouth feel after getting aligners?

Expect some discomfort for the first few days. This is temporary and can be relieved by rinsing with warm salt water (1 tsp. salt to 8 oz. of warm water), or by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. It may be tempting to take out your aligners if you feel uncomfortable. They can only move teeth when they are in your mouth.

Will I take part in typical daily activities the day aligners are applied?

You should be fine going to work or school and taking part in your usual activities the day you get your aligners.

How should aligners be cared for?

Your orthodontist or a member of the orthodontist’s staff will brief you on brushing, flossing, toothpaste, rinses and other hygiene tools for your teeth, as well as any special instructions on cleaning your aligners. If you eat or  drink anything besides tap water, remove your aligners first. Put them in their case, and put the case in a safe place. After you are done drinking or eating, brush your teeth before putting your aligners back in.