Your brace is composed of small brackets glued to your teeth. The brackets are handles used to hold your teeth and straighten 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 different colours. This treatment is performed to address the irregularities of the teeth.
It is usual for the teeth to feel uncomfortable for the first few days after the brace is first inserted. You need to keep a soft diet and if necessary take one or two tablets of paracetamol or ibuprofen.
If one bracket comes off then leave it until your next scheduled visit. If several break off then book an appointment to have the brace repaired.
Usually when the teeth move the archwire sticks out at the back. If this scratches your cheek, then visit the dentist to remove the end. (Ask reception for a packet of wax in case this happens).
Since the brace is fixed you cannot remove it for brushing. It is extremely important to spend extra time brushing all around the brace including the gums. If the dirt builds up, it will cause the gums to bleed a lot (gingivitis) and your teeth will decay. Special brushes and fluoride mouthwashes for daily use can usually be obtained from the receptionist of your dental surgery.
Poor cleaning and too many fizzy drinks can cause permanent decay marks. The importance of thorough brushing and the use of a fluoride mouthwash cannot be emphasised enough.
Contact sports such as rugby present a significant problem as a gum shield that will fit over the brace cannot be provided. A reasonable solution is to buy a cheap gumshield from a sports shop which can be softened in hot water and moulded over the brace.
It usually takes about 18 months or occasionally longer, to straighten your teeth. “Traintrack” braces are very good at straightening teeth so that their look improves in months. It is important to remember, however, that if the brace is removed too quickly before the teeth have settled into their new positions, then the teeth tend to crook again.
Usually we create a removable brace called a retainer to wear at nights for at least 12 months. Sometimes, a wire is fixed to the insides of the teeth to hold them straight.