Are you preparing for your first week wearing braces? Whether you are still researching orthodontic treatments or just had your brackets and wires bonded in place, it’s good to know what to expect for your first few days in braces.
Using braces has been a common practice to realign teeth that predates the beginning of modern orthodontics by a few millennia. In fact, braces are still one of the tools most preferred by orthodontists today, though the design has been updated considerably since ancient Egypt. They consist of at least two parts:
- Brackets – metal or ceramic posts securely bonded to your teeth with a composite adhesive.
- Archwires – thin metal wires threaded in between each bracket for a continuous connection.
If you have an overbite, underbite, or open bite, your orthodontist may also use elastics (i.e., rubber bands) to help correct the issue.
Throughout treatment, your orthodontist will periodically tighten the archwire to increase pressure on the brackets. This moves teeth in a controlled manner, allowing your orthodontist to gradually improve your tooth alignment until you have a perfectly straight smile.
One reason behind the long-lived popularity of braces is their extreme versatility. Braces can correct nearly all mild-to-severe alignment issues, including:
- Impacted teeth
- Open bite
- Spacing issues/smile gaps
For braces to succeed, however, you will need to follow your orthodontist’s instructions diligently. Below, you will find key advice and a host of braces first-week tips from the Beverly Hills Orthodontics (BHO) team that will help you start treatment off right!
Your Braces: First Week Expectations
First, let’s review what will happen during the first few days of treatment. Once we establish what to expect at the doctor’s office, you can follow our braces first-week tips to begin building good habits.
Attaching Your Braces
As you may have guessed, the first week of treatment begins when your orthodontist attaches your braces to your teeth. While it’s perfectly normal to be concerned or anxious about this process, we have some good news: attaching braces to your teeth is a painless procedure. And, it only takes an hour or two to complete.
To attach the braces, your orthodontist will:
- Clean your teeth and dry them in preparation for bracket attachment.
- Use bonding material to attach the brackets across your rows of teeth.
- Shine a curing light on brackets to harden the bonding material and create a firm connection.
- Slide metal bands over your molars if necessary to anchor the braces. The bands are sized to your molars, so you should not feel any pain or discomfort, just a bit of pressure.
- Connect all the brackets together with an archwire.
Once anchored by metal molar bands and threaded through each bracket, the archwire is cut close to the end of the bands to keep it from irritating the gums or cheeks. If your treatment includes overbite, underbite, or crossbite correction, your orthodontist will also attach elastics to the brackets and show you how to attach them yourself.
As mentioned previously, the attachment process is completely pain-free. However, you will feel some pressure while bonding the brackets and bands. You should also expect the doctor to place an appliance in your mouth to keep it open for the entire procedure.
After Your Office Visit
Immediately after your braces are attached, you may experience some short-term effects:
- Tooth Pressure. Braces correct alignment problems by applying pressure to teeth. You will feel this pressure on your teeth as the braces are first attached and whenever the archwire is tightened. The pressure should not cause any pain and naturally subsides within a couple of days. If it becomes uncomfortable, take an OTC painkiller (e.g., Tylenol) and avoid hard foods.
- Slight Skin Irritation. Along with tooth pressure, brackets and wires can irritate the inside of your lips, cheeks, and tongue as you start treatment. After a few days, up to a couple of weeks, your mouth will become accustomed to the braces hardware and the irritation will stop. For immediate relief, you can also apply orthodontic wax to your braces to create a barrier between the hardware and your skin.
- Altered Speech. Some patients report that braces alter the way they speak during the first few days of treatment. If this happens to you, don’t panic. Just keep talking: as you naturally adapt to your braces, you will sound like yourself in a day or two.
With these factors in mind, let’s take a look at how to make the most of your first week in braces.
Braces First Week Tips: Begin Orthodontic Treatment on the Right Note
Most braces treatments take around 12 months to 2+ years to complete. Treatment duration is influenced by a number of things, including:
- The type of malocclusion
- Malocclusion severity
- Anatomical factors
- Patient age
In addition to these aspects, good patient habits can positively influence how quickly your braces produce results.
As a braces patient, your job is to keep your braces in working order. To do so, you must follow certain best practices and be diligent about your oral care routine. If not, you risk damaging your braces, infecting your gums, and developing cavities—all of which can create major delays in your treatment.
Follow these braces first week tips to form good habits as you start treatment:
- Do Not Eat Hard, Sticky, or Crunchy Foods. Many foods can damage your braces during treatment. Eating hard foods (e.g., nuts, carrots, whole apples, etc.) can inadvertently bend wires, loosen bands, and break brackets. Sticky foods (e.g., gum, candy, etc.) can pull wires out of position and loosen bands. Crunchy foods (e.g., hard-shell tacos, chips, etc.) can loosen the brackets bonded to your teeth.
- Avoid Nervous Chewing Habits. When many people are nervous or bored, they habitually chew non-food items, like pencils, pens, ice, or fingernails. All of these objects can damage your braces, so if you have been trying to quash that nail-biting habit, now is the time!
- Prioritize Your Oral Hygiene. Daily brushing and flossing are always important, but your oral care routine is especially critical while wearing braces. To prevent plaque accumulation and other dental problems, plan to brush your teeth and braces 3 times a day for 3 to 5 minutes, and floss at night. After brushing and flossing, your braces should always appear shiny and clean.
- Wear a Mouthguard When Playing Contact Sports. If there is a reasonable chance of someone or something colliding with your braces, you need to wear a mouthguard. One unprotected blow to a mouth with braces can lead to expensive repairs and painful injuries. Minimize this risk by wearing a mouthguard any time you participate in physical activities.
Interested in Braces? Schedule a Consultation With BHO Today!
Braces are one of the most reliable ways to achieve a flawless smile. No matter whether you struggle with crowding, open bite, underbite, or another malocclusion, braces can correct your alignment issues for a perfectly straight set of teeth.
If you are ready to improve your smile, Beverly Hills Orthodontics is the practice for you. Led by Ivy League graduate Dr. Monica Madan, BHO uses the latest technology to create the best treatment plans possible. From accelerated orthodontic measures to different types of braces, we provide our patients with different care options that maximize comfort and convenience. Contact us today to discuss your treatment plan.