When most people hear the word “braces,” they picture traditional metal braces. Metal braces are the most commonly used orthodontic treatment method, and they have been around for about 200 years. Metal braces are made of stainless steel brackets and archwires that realign the teeth. Even though this is the most common form of orthodontic treatment, new patients often have a lot of questions about how traditional metal braces will affect their lives. Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about metal braces!

How Do Metal Braces Work?

When you get your braces on, your orthodontist will cement a metal bracket onto the center of each of your teeth. Then, they will install an archwire that goes through all of the brackets on each jaw. Each time your braces are adjusted, your Alpharetta orthodontist will change your wire out for a less flexible one. Stiffer archwires will gently pull your teeth into place. Over time, your teeth will gradually move into proper alignment.

How Long Do I Have To Wear Metal Braces For?

Every patient’s orthodontic journey is a little different, depending on their own alignment needs and the pace that their teeth move at. Typically, most metal braces treatment plans last somewhere between 12-24 months. At the beginning of your treatment, your orthodontist will give you an estimated timeline. As you continue to visit the office for adjustments and checkups, they will keep you informed of your progress, and adjust the anticipated end date as necessary. Once your braces are removed, your orthodontist will give you retainers to wear in order to ensure that your newly aligned smile will stay in place.

How Often Do I Need To Visit My Orthodontist To Have My Braces Tightened?

Typically, orthodontic patients with metal braces should plan to schedule a visit with their orthodontist every 4-6 weeks for adjustments. The frequency of your visits may change depending on the stage of treatment you are in and the pace that your teeth are moving. Once your archwire has been adjusted, your orthodontist will discuss your progress with you, and let you know how soon you will need to return to the office for your next adjustment appointment.

Will I Feel Any Pain?

When you first get your braces on, you may experience some sensitivity. Patients often report discomfort in their teeth from the new pressure, or on the inside of their cheeks due to chafing caused by the new brackets. The same pressure may also be experienced after your adjustment appointments. We generally recommend that our patients stick to soft, easy to eat foods for a couple of days while their teeth adjust to their new braces. If your braces break the skin on the inside of your cheeks, you can use the wax that your orthodontist will give you to cover any sharp areas while your skin heals. As you adjust to your braces, this skin should get less sensitive. Most discomfort that patients experience is fairly mild. However, if necessary patients are able to take pain relievers like Advil when needed.

What Do I Do If One Of My Brackets Breaks?

If you experience an orthodontic emergency, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. When you call the office, be sure to explain the situation. In some cases, minor equipment damage does not need to be treated immediately. However, some damage can be very painful and detrimental to the patient. The staff at the orthodontist’s office will be able to help determine the severity of the situation.

How Do I Keep My Metal Braces Clean?

While you have braces, it is extremely important to maintain proper oral hygiene to prevent issues like decay or painful cavities. You will want to at least brush your teeth after every meal or snack in order to remove all of the food particles from in between your brackets and wires. Ideally, patients should also floss and rinse their mouths after eating, but if that is not possible they must floss at least once per day once they are home and able to do so. When you get your braces on, your orthodontist will talk to you about your current oral hygiene routine and make sure you have the products you need to maintain proper oral hygiene throughout your treatment.

If you have any questions about your braces or are ready to schedule your free consultation, make an appointment with us today!