What to Expect
Fixed appliances are braces that are attached to the teeth. They consist of brackets and wires that apply gentle forces to move the teeth into the ideal position. A typical course of treatment will be around 15 to 18 months; however this may vary depending on the case.
The first few days the mouth and teeth will be adjusting to the brace, and it is normal to experience discomfort. Some patients may experience ulcers on the lips and the insides of the cheeks due to rubbing of the brace. This can be relieved by placing wax from the starter pack over the relevant area of the brace. For the wax to stick, it is important to dry the brace first with a tissue. During this period it is advisable to eat soft food and take analgesics such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol. Generally, after the first week or so, you will be over the worst of the discomfort and everything will become far easier! If you are at all concerned, please contact the practice for further advice.
When the brace is first fitted, it is not uncommon for the upper teeth to touch the lower brackets. This will change as treatment progresses; however it is important to avoid biting heavily on the brace. In cases where the overbite is deep (increased vertical overlap of incisors), bite platforms may have been placed, and you will find that you only contact on these platforms. This will not only protect the lower brace in the early stages, it will also permit rapid alignment of the teeth. Once the overbite has been corrected, these platforms will be removed.
The wires used at the start of treatment are very flexible. If hard or sticky food is eaten it is possible to dislodge the wire from the back of the brace. If this occurs, it is often possible just to tuck the wire under the brace so it is comfortable. If it is a long time before your next appointment, please contact the practice so that the wire can be re-sited into the brace.
As the teeth start to align, the wire may start to protrude from the back of the brace. If this is the case, it means the teeth are straightening rapidly; however if the wire is irritating the cheek the wax should be used. If there is a lot of wire protruding, please contact the practice so it can be trimmed. It is also common to see small spaces appear as the angulation of the teeth is corrected. Please do not be alarmed, these spaces will be closed as treatment progresses.
In most cases it is necessary to wear elastic bands to improve the bite of the teeth. Elastics are normally worn for 24 hours a day and are only taken out for eating and tooth brushing. They need to be changed every 12 hours. Always carry some spare elastics with you in case a band breaks.
Fixed appliances are normally adjusted every 6-8 weeks. Clearly, attending your appointments is essential to ensure the quickest and best result possible. If a breakage occurs please contact the practice so that the brace can be repaired at the next available appointment.
Please maintain regular visits to your dentist and hygienist throughout your orthodontic treatment.
To ensure treatment runs smoothly and efficiently it is important to avoid certain foods that may break the brace. Hard foods such as raw vegetables and apples should be cut into small pieces. French bread and pizza crusts are common brace breakers! Chewing sticky sweets, gum and toffees should also be avoided.
It is also important to reduce your intake of acidic drinks such as fizzy drinks and fruit juices. Similarly, sugary drinks such as squash, should be limited to meal times.
You will be provided with a starter pack which includes everything you need to look after your teeth and brace.
When you have a brace it will take slightly longer to clean your gums and teeth. Ideally, you should brush after every meal. It is important to pay particular attention to the gum-tooth junction. If your gums bleed it is usually a sign of inflammation caused by a build up of plaque. Meticulous cleaning will resolve the inflammation and bleeding. Inter-space (spiral) brushes should be used in addition to a normal toothbrush, in order to clean between the brackets and under the wire. Poor brushing not only leads to swollen gums but may also cause early decay (decalcification) that shows up as white marks on the teeth.
Disclosing tablets can be used to identify areas that are not being brushed properly. The tablets should be chewed for one minute with the saliva being spread over all tooth surfaces using your tongue. Areas of plaque will be stained pink or purple and should be removed with further brushing.
Fluoride Mouthwash should be used daily to help protect the teeth. Use the mouthwash at a separate time to brushing your teeth to gain the maximum benefit.