Braces

Most people are familiar with braces – but they may not know how they work. Think of it this way: Just as a doctor uses medication to treat a patient, an orthodontist uses carefully planned, light forces. Braces are integrated systems that use gentle force to guide teeth into alignment. Here’s what they are comprised of:

  • Archwires
    Thin wires that guide the teeth into the desired positions – think of them as the “track”.
  • Bands
    Metal rings that secure the braces to the back teeth.
  • Brackets
    Small squares that secure the archwires to the teeth, providing a “foothold” for each tooth.
  • Elastics
    Rubber bands that help align the upper and lower teeth with respect to each other  – a “turbo charger” for tooth movement!

Stainless steel braces are most common and have become smaller, more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing over time. But there are other types created to suit individual treatment and aesthetic preferences, too.

What to Expect

Do braces hurt? You should feel fine during an adjustment, but might experience some discomfort for a few days thereafter. Over-the-counter medication is usually sufficient for relief. And eating foods on the soft side will add to your comfort, too.

Daily Life

Braces shouldn’t change the way you live – you will be able to play an instrument, participate in sports and enjoy your usual activities. Caveat: We recommended wearing a mouth guard for contact sports or other rough activities. Ask for one at the office – it’s complimentary.

Time Capsule

Concerned about investing your time? We like to think of it this way: the time will go by anyway. Why not reap the benefits of the changes for the rest of your life? Orthodontic treatment is one of the only self-improvement projects in which someone else does the heavy lifting. Let us do it for you!

What’s for Lunch?

You can probably eat a greater variety of foods than you would imagine with braces, but there are also some loud-and-clear DON’Ts.  Obvious don’ts include popcorn kernels (the fluffy parts are fine) and hard nuts (soft nuts are fine). Please steer clear of them. Apples are okay – you just need to cut them up. And baby carrots.

Sticky foods are also out. Nix the caramel, taffy, licorice, bubblegum, gummy bears – and anything else “gummy” for that matter.  Sticky foods are fun, but they are also apt to damage bands, wires, brackets and other appliances. Do your best to avoid them – and please keep sugary foods to a minimum. And remember to rinse (at the very least) and brush once you’ve had them!

Description: A Functional Appliance is most often comprised of highly polished acrylic shields and stainless steel wires.  It is a single piece and is often described as “two connected retainers”.  This appliance is most often prescribed for patients with more pronounced Class II jaw discrepancies (upper-jaw forward and lower-jaw backward) or Open Bite problems (front jaws/teeth are apart and do not meet).  Each appliance is fabricated as a custom fit with buccal shields (side acrylic pieces) and other components to modify growth in all planes of space.  These types of appliances work comfortably with a patient’s inherent growth to affect the desired changes in skeletal/dental development.

Usage: The activator is to be worn at all times with exception of cleaning and eating.  Most patients find it helpful to wear the appliance at home for the first few weeks and then to wear it at all times when speech normalizes.

Cleaning: We encourage patients to clean the appliance with toothpaste and a toothbrush.  If the appliance needs a deeper cleaning, anti-bacterial soap and warm water can often help, followed by a cleaning with toothpaste.  Mouthwash should NOT be used and hot water should also be avoided to prevent distortion of the acrylic.  Specific instructions will be provided to enhance and expedite the cleaning process.

What to Expect: Upon initial placement, there may be some tongue obstruction, but your speech will be back to normal in just a few days.

Dr. Tan’s Tip: Read your favorite book, magazine, etc. to yourself in front of the mirror for five minutes a day – your speech will be perfect in no time.

Remember: With pronounced jaw discrepancies, continued treatment with other appliances will be essential to the ultimate success of treatment. The patient and orthodontist are partners in this adventure and helpful participation by the patient can make the process proceed as planned.  Careful oral hygiene and compliance with all prescribed appliances can help to make the process a success!

Description: The Headgear appliances are comprised of a stainless steel Facebow and a nylon strap that attaches around the top of the head or the back of the neck with elastic modules to deliver the light, continuous force necessary to aid in modification of a patient’s skeletal growth and dental development.

Usage: The body does most of its daily growth roughly between 6 PM and 6 AM—the greatest degree of headgear wear between those hours tends to yield the best results.  Placing the appliance before or immediately following dinner up until snack/bathing and then all night will optimize results.

Cleaning: The Facebow can be cleaned with toothpaste and a toothbrush and the head/neck straps do not usually require cleaning.

What to Expect: As with any appliance, there is a short adjustment period as the teeth may experience some minor soreness as the body acclimates to the appliance.

Remember: If the appliance is placed immediately before bed, it can often create more soreness than is necessary, prompting “unconscious” removal by the patient.  Placement of the appliance as early in the evening as possible is key to success!!!

Description: A series of clear plastic shells that are designed by the orthodontist to gradually correct minor alignment (tooth straightening) issues, typically changed every 2-3 weeks.  The appliances are thin and flexible while strong enough to affect the desired changes.  Tooth colored composite “attachments” are often placed on the teeth to aid in tooth movement.

Usage: The appliances are to be worn at all times except when eating and cleaning.  Approximately 21 hours per day seems to allow for optimal results.  Of course, they may be removed for ultra special occasions—important business meetings or social events, but must be placed immediately following these events.

Cleaning: We encourage patients to clean the appliances with toothpaste and a toothbrush.  If the appliance needs a deeper cleaning, anti-bacterial soap and warm water can often help, followed by a cleaning with toothpaste.  Mouthwash should NOT be used and hot water should also be avoided to prevent distortion of the material.

What to Expect: Upon initial placement, there may be some tongue obstruction, but your speech will be back to normal in just a few days. With practice, these appliances can be worn as comfortably as if they were not even present.  They are invisible socially and in the boardroom.

Dr. Tan’s Tip: Read your favorite book, magazine, etc. to yourself in front of the mirror for five minutes a day – your speech will be perfect in no time.

Please Note: If the appliance shows signs of “wear and tear”, there is usually no cause for concern unless it breaks completely.

Remember: Wearing these appliances as required (21 hours per day or more) will help establish the greatest degree of change possible.  With a “modified” schedule, only limited results can be expected.  All retention regimens for other methods of tooth movement apply and should be faithfully practiced to optimize results.

Description: A clear retainer is a clear plastic shell that conforms exactly to the contours of the teeth to aid in the maintenance of tooth position (retention). The material does not typically cover the palatal tissues.

Usage: The Appliance is used to maintain a previous orthodontic result or to simply prevent undesirable movement of the teeth. Retention appliances are typically worn nightly following orthodontic therapy to allow for remodeling of the bones and gums and maintain the orthodontic correction.

Cleaning: We encourage patients to clean the appliance with toothpaste and a toothbrush. If the appliance needs a deeper cleaning, anti-bacterial soap and warm water can often help, followed by a cleaning with toothpaste. Mouthwash should NOT be used and hot water should also be avoided to prevent distortion of the material.

What to Expect: Upon initial placement, there may be some tongue obstruction, but your speech will be back to normal in just a few days.

Dr. Tan’s Tip: Read your favorite book, magazine, etc. to yourself in front of the mirror for five minutes a day – your speech will be perfect in no time.
Please Note: If the Appliance shows signs of “wear and tear”, there is usually no cause for concern unless it breaks completely.

Remember: Retention is as important as the treatment itself and is essential to the long-term maintenance of your new bite and smile.