Do braces hurt?
This is a very common question, often asked out of concern or fear; not everyone loves the dentist!
Whilst it is not unusual to experience some mild discomfort immediately after having a brace fitted and for a few days following an appointment, over the counter analgesics such as paracetamol usually help.
It is important to remember that braces are designed to move teeth and as such, they are going to take some getting used to.
You will visit us many times on your orthodontic journey and some visits are different than others. Here is what you can expect:
New Patient Appointment
The first time you visit us, you will see an orthodontist. Orthodontists are highly qualified dentists who have taken additional courses to train as either a specialist orthodontist (link to Paul Oades and Zena Brenchley) or Dentist with Specialist Interest in Orthodontics (link to Chris Gooderham). You are in safe hands! At your first appointment, you (if you are old enough) or your parent/guardian with parental responsibility will complete a medical history form. Then the orthodontist will gently examine your teeth and may take photographs of your mouth and jaw as well as x-rays of your teeth, mouth and jaw (if required). We may also need to take impressions of your teeth. This involves creating moulds of your teeth out of a soft (and perfectly safe) putty like substance called alginate. Plastic trays are filled with the alginate and are gently pressed over your teeth. We take impressions of your teeth one jaw at a time. This process doesn’t hurt but some patients find the feeling a bit strange – try to relax, it takes less than a minute to complete and gives us a good impression of the shape and outline of your teeth, which is very useful to have. If you know that you have a sensitive gag reflex, please let us know beforehand.
Having the brace fitted, ‘bond up’.
This is an exciting appointment, where the start of your orthodontic appliance wearing begins. It is often a longer appointment, usually half an hour or in some cases longer (we will advise you when we book it). If you have problems being reclined in a dentist’s chair for that long, please do let us know and we will work with you to make it as comfortable as possible for you.
When you have a fixed brace fitted, a special type of glue or cement is used to stick the brace’s bracket or button to each tooth individually. Once they are all in place, a special blue light is pressed onto the brackets to set them hard onto the teeth. The brackets are then joined together with a very thin metal wire which is threaded through tiny grooves in the brackets. This wire is held in place with elastics – the fun bit is that you get to choose the colour of these elastics and personalise your brace. Over the years we have provided many colour combinations, such as orange and black at Halloween, red and green at Christmas and red, white and blue for the Olympics. Skaters seem to love the neon colours and younger girls often go for pretty colours – then choice is yours. We have cards with colour options available in the clinic waiting areas so you can plan your colour choices. Having the brace fitted isn’t painful, but it is common that your teeth will start to ache a little a few hours after the fitting and sometimes the inside of your cheek(s) become sore. These are perfectly normal symptoms and should go after a few days. If you are concerned at all, then phone our reception team who will be able to reassure you: 01272 343688
This is a system of individually moulded aligners, which fit over your teeth like a mouth guard. Your bond up appointment will simply involve showing you how to put them in and take them out and check that they feel comfortable and fit correctly.
Fixed Appliance Check’s (FAC) or Adjustment appointments
These will be every 6-10 weeks, depending on your individual needs and your availability. These are relatively quick appointments, anything from 5-20 minutes. At these appointments your braces will be check for wear and tear and to see if any repairs need to take place. Sometimes individual brackets may need to be replaced and if your teeth have moved sufficiently, the wire may be changed for a different one to keep the brace active. If this happens, you will be able to choose new colours for your elastics again. In the case of Invisalign treatment, you will be fitted with a new set of aligners. You may experience some mild discomfort after these appointments, but it should quickly subside. Remember, if you are able to, taking mild pain relief such as paracetamol can help ease any symptoms of discomfort.
Taking the brace off, ‘Debond’
This is another fairly long appointment, upwards of half an hour. Understandably some patients are a little worried about having their braces taken off, I mean the brackets are glued on to your teeth! Please try not to be concerned, we use special tools which clip off the brackets, we don’t have to chip away at the glue/cement! You may feel some pressure on each tooth as the bracket is clipped off but there shouldn’t be any pain. Sometimes we need to clean leftover bits of glue off your teeth, but again this should not hurt. It may feel odd to run your tongue around your teeth once your brace has been removed, but you will soon get used to your wonderful new smile. Our orthodontists sometimes fit a fixed retainer (if you are having one) at this appointment. This is where a very thin piece of stainless steel wire is secured in place behind your front teeth to keep them stable. It doesn’t hurt and you will soon get used to it being there. At this appointment we may also take another set of impressions to make removable retainers for your teeth. These are clear thin appliances much like a sports mouthguard, which are worn as per your orthodontist’s instructions.
This appointment is a brief 10 minute appointment usually six months after debond to check that your retainers are still fitting well and that you don’t have any concerns.
Hopefully the above information is helpful in letting you know what to expect from treatment. We welcome any questions you might have about braces, in the first instance please either call our reception team on: 01271 343688 or mention it to your orthodontist when you visit.
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